By FOX 26 Digital and Sherman Desselle
Published December 24, 2022
FOX 26 Houston
Houston fire trucks idle, unable to respond leaves firefighters concerned
HOUSTON – With much of Houston under a freeze and many using appliances to stay warm, firefighters are worried they won’t be able to respond to calls due to staffing shortages.
The Houston Professional Firefighters Association (HPFA) posted on Facebook that 17 engines and ladders were idle or unable to be driven. “As of noon, 17 engines and ladders were out of commission, said HPFA President Patrick M. Lancton. “I am very concerned about the ability of our firefighters to respond to calls for service. It is a critical situation that places the safety of our firefighters and the citizens of Houston at risk. It is especially concerning considering that we are heading into our third night of record-freezing temperatures that have increased calls for service. There is no excuse for this happening.”
The City and its firefighters were already in a dispute. On Nov. 29 the Texas Supreme Court heard final arguments in a pair of long-festering labor disputes between the City and its firefighters.
Houston firefighters to learn if they’ll receive higher wages
Houston firefighters and their families will finally learn if they’ll receive higher wages as Houston voters believe they deserve. FOX 26’s Greg Groogan explains more on the upcoming court decision. At the direction of Mayor Sylvester Turner lawyers for the City along with the police officer’s union argues that Proposition B, a 2018 measure approved by voters granting firefighters pay equality with police, violated the constitution. “The vote of the people is a sacred thing and the fact that the City has taken a position against its own law is mind-blowing,” said Lancton in regard to Prop B.
Lancton contended previously how his members felt compelled to push for the proposition only because the City refused to collectively bargain in good faith, a right Houston voters first granted firefighters in 2003. Houston Fire Chief Sam Pena shared this with FOX 26 about HPFA’s statement:
“Staffing levels were impacted by the passing of Proposition B in 2019. This forced the city to cancel 4 academy classes, resulting in missing the recruitment target by 280 firefighters. We appreciate all the firefighters working today, but staffing becomes even more challenging during the holidays when less personnel volunteer for overtime.
Today, we have all 104 EMS units, plus 4 additional peak-time ambulances, all 88 engine/fire trucks, and 25 of the 38 ladder trucks in service. All fire stations are operational.”