Nearly three weeks ago we broke the news that families of four fallen Houston firefighters would not receive donations raised in their loved ones' name. Since then, the 100 Club addressed the issue, changed its rules and offered those families funds.
In his first comments on the controversy surrounding Houston's 100 Club, Houston Fire Chief Terry Garrison said he had been impressed by the work the group does.
"They've been terrific," he said. "Since I've been here the last three years I've seen them do nothing but good. I think there was a bump in the road."
But that bump in the road, as he calls it, was a significant dent to the 100 Club's otherwise stellar reputation. As we first reported last month, the group raised more than half a million dollars after the fatal motel fire on May 31.
The four victims were all single and childless, and under long-standing 100 Club rules, none of them was eligible to receive aid. After their families and hundreds of you weighed in with anger and disappointment, the 100 Club changed its rules. They've since distributed checks to all four firefighter families, averaging $45,000 for each family.
The chief cautioned all Houstonians to do their own research whenever they donate.
"As a private citizen, I would want to know that when I am donating money to the 100 Club or whoever I donate money to, I need to do my research and find out, where is this money going to go? I don't think we ask that question often enough," Chief Garrison said.
The chief also told us the fire department did its own survey of firefighters and confirmed data Eyewitness News first reported. According to the chief, 53 percent of Houston firefighters are single. The chief said the numbers may reinforce the need for even more changes from the 100 club.
"As the 100 Club moves forward they will have to look at their past practices of not providing the same support to members that are single or don't have children," Chief Garrison said. "They will probably adjust in a positive way."
The 100 Club has already said it will give an immediate $20,000 to first responders lost in the line of duty, along with paying one year's needs.
The 100 Club met with the Better Business Bureau last week. Afterwards, the 100 Club was reinstated as a member in good standing.