Council looks at HFD policy changes

July 29, 2009 4:38:43 PM PDT
Meanwhile, city leaders are rushing to put out the fire. On Wednesday, city council members debated what could be fueling the problems within the department. [WATCH: Full statements from female firefighters]

"Stunned" is the word one city council member used as a reaction to Tuesday's litany of past complaints by female firefighters. Now the complaint reporting process is getting extra attention.

When firefighters have a grievance or a complaint, it's funneled to the city office of inspector general. Unless the person being complained about can be identified, the complaint it labeled as 'unsustained' and perhaps, as a city council member said, that should be changed.

"Unsustained has the implication for the person making the complaint that it didn't matter, that it didn't count, that it wasn't found to be truthful. I think in many cases that's not an accurate reflection of what they found," said City Council Member Melissa Noriega.

In the wake of sexist and racist graffiti found at a Bush Intercontinental Airport fire station and the complaints dating from years past aired Tuesday by female firefighters, there are now multiple calls for change.

"What I want to make sure though is that we're looking at what's happening now in the fire department and what can be fixed and how we can go about fixing that," said City Council Member Sue Lovell.

The question is: How? Zero tolerance was mentioned often Wednesday.

"What we're going to have to do as a body is to close many of those gaps to make sure that those individuals understand that there is going to be a severe, harsh consequence for your actions," said City Council Member Jarvis Johnson.

Money has been approved by city council for an outside consultant to study conditions within the fire department. The mayor wants to bring in more outside help as well as human resource professionals.

"I'm dealing with some issues of leadership training in corporate culture," said Mayor Bill White.

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