Union seeks exoneration for Station 54 firefighters

The Houston firefighters union is asking the mayor and acting fire chief to publicly exonerate firefighters from Fire Station 54.
April 7, 2010 9:32:09 PM PDT
Firefighters at Fire Station 54 have been under a cloud of suspicion for months regarding the racist and sexist graffiti found, but no one has been charged. Now the firefighters union wants their names publicly cleared. Since last summer, the Houston Fire Department has endured one of its biggest scandals involving the alleged racist and sexist harassment of two female firefighters. With no suspects named nine months into a stalled investigation, the president of the Houston Professional Firefighters Association is calling for the report to be released and fire fighters to be publicly exonerated.

"I think it's important for the fire chief and mayor to do that, because it's the truth," said Jeff Caynon, President of the HPFA.

Firefighters Paula Keyes and Jane Draycott say after months of harassment, it escalated July 7. Walls on the women's dormitory at Station 54 were scrawled with sexist and racist remarks and days later at a press conference they explained even family photos were defaced. One featured Draycott's deceased daughter.

"And wrote 'dead' on her face, and they wrote 'die' on my face," said Draycott.

Months later, the mayor's Office of Inspector General, even the FBI, still have not identified any suspects. Caynon says the egregious allegations, made publicly of firefighter misconduct, have eroded public trust.

"We've been sort of in the grinder for nine months and every allegation imaginable has been made against the men and woman who do this job," said Caynon.

Though the report has not been released, Caynon says it's obvious it's going nowhere and it's time to conclude it. So far, no city leaders are expressing vindication for firefighters at Station 54.

"I'm embarrassed for the city of Houston. I am ashamed that we cannot clearly identify for people what happened," said Mayor Parker.

Mayor Parker says it's time to move on and plans to clean house at Station 54, dispersing firefighters here throughout the department.

We also sought comment from Acting Fire Chief Rick Flanagan, but he did not return our call.


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