Explosive new allegations by a firefighter

August 2, 2009 10:08:50 AM PDT
There are explosive new allegations of hateful treatment by a firefighter, this time by a former captain and fire marshal in Texas City. Over the past few months, we've heard various accounts from Houston firefighters, racist and sexist language against some. Others claim they were the victims of unspeakable acts.

There are now new claims, this time from one of Texas City's former top brass.

"I regret to this day that I ever became a firefighter," said Kelly Alcocer, who was Texas City's first woman fire marshal and captain. "I felt like I made the dream come true, and I fought hard for it."

But she says over the years deeply rooted sexism and racism surfaced within the department, eventually forcing her out.

"I went into the women's dorm and there was feces smeared on the commode and it had been there for some time," she said.

Alcocer says she has found unspeakable words sprayed on her mailbox, once even a staple in the ear bud of her mp3 player. And there's more.

"I've had flowers delivered to my home with a hateful message attached to them, stating that my luck was running out," she said. "I've had my tires slashed on two different vehicles."

Alcocer says she sounded the alarm to former Texas City Fire Department Chief Herald Grimm and later to the current chief, Joe Gorman, but that she was silenced.

"He knows what's going on and they continue to sweep it under the rug," she said.

We tried for over a week to get comment from the fire chief in Texas City. Our repeated calls were unanswered. So we went to the fire department to get a response. When asked about the complaints against the department, Chief Gorman told us he couldn't comment, citing ongoing EEOC investigations.

Four years ago, the fire dept did hire a consultant to conduct management training.

"I think those women felt like they were working in a hostile environment and it was a hostile environment," said Melvin Williams, director of diversity affairs at UTMB Galveston.

In 2005, he was hired to "clean up" the Texas City fire department.

"If you had been in those sessions with us, you'd know quite obviously things weren't hunky dorey," he said.

Williams says he didn't even get to the diversity part of the training due to the "animosity and hostility" in the room.

"They didn't curse or kick the walls, but it was the next closest thing to that," said Williams.

Williams never returned to the Texas City Fire Department after 2005 and believes some of the problems that existed then may now be bigger than before.

"It would not surprise me to know that the women that are still there are still having some difficulties because it never was resolved," said Williams.

Alcocer was fired last September for what she describes as minor violations of departmental policy, but is speaking out now after Houston female firefighters publically complained about discrimination in their department.

We also repeatedly tried to get a response from the Texas City mayor and city attorney, but they did not return our calls.

Alocer's attorney has filed paperwork with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and hopes to jump-start a federal investigation into what's happening in the Texas City Fire Department.

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