The Firefighters union is accusing the City of Houston of years of neglect of the department’s fleet and facilities. No one was hurt during the collapse.
“Now is the time that this city needs to prioritize not only the fleet [and] facilities, but the health and wellness of the men and women that we are asking to continue to go out there and put themselves on the frontline, not only during this pandemic but on a daily basis,” said Marty Lanction, HPFFA President.
In response, the mayor’s office sent FOX 26 the following statement: “We are grateful that no one was hurt and the General Services Department responded immediately to begin making repairs. Mayor Turner and city council have heavily invested in Houston Fire Department personnel training, equipment, and facilities.”
It also referred to previous press releases of investments including purchases of new fire trucks and protective equipment.
The city says it has spent more than $30 million on fleet under Turner’s administration.
Fire Chief Sam Peña says the mayor and city council understand and are working strategically to address the department’s needs.
“Out of our 94 fire stations, the majority are older and so there are a lot of needs. Nobody is denying that but also they’re not being neglected,” Peña said.
He adds Fire Station 49 was last remodeled in the early 2000s. He explained the collapse appeared to be stucco that had loosened over time because of the elements and vibrations caused by nearby construction.
“Fire stations should represent the best in government and that’s our goal — to ensure that our firefighters are working in safe, in healthy, and functional facilities,” Peña stated.
Lancton believes the ceiling collapse shows the city’s efforts are not enough.
“There is no excuse that the Fire Chief can give,” Lancton added. “There is no excuse that the Mayor can give. This is city has a budget of over $5.5 billion. This city has clearly not prioritized the Houston Fire Department.”
Peña says the ambulance is being assessed for damages.