- "The Houston Fire Department confirms that disciplinary action was taken against three members regarding an incident in which a racial epithet was entered into an emergency medical record. The discipline was administered following due process for the members. Use of such language as described in the related complaint constitutes a violation of public trust and will not be tolerated by the Houston Fire Department.
One member received an indefinite suspension. Two other members were offered 60-day suspensions in lieu of indefinite suspension. Both chose indefinite suspension. All three are afforded the opportunity to appeal to a hearing examiner, as specified by contract. All three have chosen to appeal."
Statement from Houston Professional Firefighters Association
- "The Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association announced today it will immediately appeal the firings of three Houston Fire Department firefighters after a city investigation failed to identify who added a racially insensitive comment to an electronic patient care record several months ago.
Late Tuesday, Acting Fire Chief Rick Flanagan "indefinitely suspended" the firefighters from Station 55. The firings will be appealed today to an independent hearing examiner, the HPFFA said.
HPFFA President Jeff Caynon stated, "This inept city investigation -- which could not identify who wrote the comment -- caused yet another injustice for Houston firefighters and their families. Firing three people for the despicable actions of a single person is legally and morally wrong."
When abusive investigative tactics by the city Office of Inspector General failed, Caynon said, Flanagan simply fired all three firefighters after they refused to admit to the city's allegations and rejected 60-day suspensions. The HPFFA alleges city investigators repeatedly violated state law by denying the firefighters access to HPFFA or legal representation during questioning. The firefighters were questioned for up to six hours at a time.
Caynon added, "It's ironic that one of Rick Flanagan's final acts as acting chief was to protect a firefighter who was videotaped allegedly committing a crime in an HFD uniform yet he then fired firefighters after an investigation that proved nothing -- except his willingness to destroy the reputations or careers of men whose innocence or guilt he cannot determine. We are troubled by the city's pattern of treatment of firefighters in recent high-profile investigations -- from the debunked 'noose' incident last year to the alleged HFD Station 54 graffiti incident and now this travesty."