Problems at the Houston Fire Department?

July 10, 2009 4:21:45 PM PDT
This week's complaint of racist and sexist graffiti at one of the Houston Fire Department's female dorms is just the latest in a series of complaints against the department. Eyewitness News has learned that Houston's Office of Inspector General receives hundreds of complaints about the department each year. There are around 4,000 classified employees at the Houston Fire Department. In business terms, its' a huge workplace and as such, there are workplace disputes. The departments staff service office hears a lot of them, which can include minor conflicts.

The more serious, though, are investigated by the Houston Police Department's Office of Inspector General. Its duty is to investigators and report alleged criminal and administrative conduct by city employees, the violation of city, state and federal law or state ordinance.

Below is the frequency that fire department complaints to go the Office of Inspector General.

    In 2007, 823 complaints were received involving all city employees, excluding police. More than half of those involve fire department workers, with 124 serious enough to warrant a full investigation.

    In 2008, more than half of 694 cases referred to OIG involved the Houston Fire Department. Seventy-three department complaints were investigated. Through June of this year, more than half of the OIG cases processed involved the fire department, with 43 HFD complaints investigated so far.

The outcomes of those investigations haven't been released to us yet, but Councilwoman Jolanda Jones suggests that, as with the HPD Crime Lab scandal, each case should be reviewed.

"When they have to go back and re-test stuff that was supposed to be concluded before and we found out that some tests were bad, I would like to see the same thing with the fire department," she said.

We should note that the 43 complaints that have been under investigation by OIG this year doesn't include the 43 from Station 54 with its racist and sexually charged graffiti. That will be added to the July list.

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