Mayor Parker: City is following fire inspection rules

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Houston officials have not provided proof showing that cited city buildings have been re-inspected or ticketed; a dozen buildings cited for fire violations are fire stations (KTRK)

Houston Fire Department brass huddled with Mayor Annise Parker's staff Tuesday in the wake of an ABC-13 report about allegations that supervisors told fire inspectors to inspect, but not ticket, code violations in city buildings.

And later, at a City Council meeting, Parker insisted the city was in the clear.

"Since February of this year there have been 277 inspections of city facilities," Parker said. "Twenty one issues noted that required city re-inspection. So we do get inspected."

But that's not the issue: The inspectors told ABC-13 they did the inspections and were ordered not to follow up.

See Monday's ABC-13 fire inspection investigation by clicking here.

The fire department said Tuesday they're trying to get to every city building once before going back to see if known violations are corrected.

Parker's comments came after public comment from attorney Randall Kallinen. With four veteran houston fire inspectors looking on, Kallinen told City Council those fire inspectors are not allowed to do their jobs.

"They want to be sure they have the power, just like in private businesses, to issue citations," Kallinen said. Otherwise, "That takes away the power fire marshals have to enforce their restrictions."

Top fire department leadership, including Fire Marshal Richard Galvan, insist the no-ticket order was never given.

Galvan declined an on-camera interview with ABC-13. The supervisor who allegedly gave the no-ticket order is prohibited from talking to reporters while the department looks into the allegations, officials said.

In an effort to prove that the no-ticket order was never given, the fire department sent ABC-13 inspection reports of city buildings.

All of them, 13 in all, were fire stations with violations of fire code. Six were past or at their reinspection date.

Some didn't have enough extinguishers, some lacked exit signs, and there weren't enough smoke detectors in dorm rooms, records show. Inspectors also noted dangerous wiring and flammable liquids dangerously stored.

There's no proof as of late Tuesday any of them were re-inspected or ticketed. Documents also suggest those stations should have been re-inspected by now, but there's no proof they have been.

It's possible the problems have been fixed, but after numerous requests from ABC-13, the fire department hasn't offered any paperwork to show the rules are being followed. We will update this story as we get more information.

Mayor Parker, though, says they are.

"We have achieved compliance on everything noted," she said.

Ted Oberg Investigates will stay on this story and will report back to you.

Producer: Trent Seibert
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Ted Oberg Investigateshouston fire department
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