HOUSTON (KTRK) --Twice in a week: that's how many times a Kingwood fire station has been unmanned and now Mayor Sylvester Turner says it must stop.
Eyewitness News first reported last week that Houston Fire Department's Station 103 in Kingwood was essentially shut down for 12 hours so that staff could attend training. Other fire stations picked up its calls. During that time, a 2-year-old girl drowned and first responders from a station farther away were dispatched.
HFD officials said the difference in response time to the drowning call was between two and three minutes and the administration said it wouldn't happen again.
However, a week later, it did. Station 103 was unmanned for about seven hours Tuesday. The issue was a topic during today's Houston City Council meeting.
"Many people may be aware of an abc13 report last week. No one was at station 103. They were at a training seminar," explained Council Member Dave Martin, whose district includes Kingwood.
"I saw that story about Station 103 and on that very night I called the chief of the fire department and said explain to me why there's no one at this station," responded Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. "No station can be closed. No station can be closed because it's there for a reason."
HFD spokesman Sr. Capt Ruy Lozano says the administration is still making corrections and "looking for ways to balance (crews) so we don't put an entire station out." The plan is to shift crews when there is scheduled training.
Houston firefighters were the first to raise concerns. Martin says he plans to check on his district's fire stations periodically to ensure all are manned.
"Do we want another tragedy on our hands?"