More tension between HFD and female firefighter?

January 15, 2010 4:05:08 PM PST
It was a bombshell for the city, shocking racist and sexist graffiti spray painted inside a Houston Fire Department fire station. And now, one of the female firefighters who felt targeted by her co-workers has returned to that fire station. But what happened next could be the beginning of even more problems for the department. "It was horrific, humiliating and it was the worst experience," said Houston Firefighter Jane Draycott.

Draycott minces no words how she says she felt when she tried to return to work, arriving at Station 54 Wednesday where she was met by the fire chief, his command staff and a fire captain -- Captain Williamson -- who she says impuned her character in a letter read aloud.

"Oh, he said that he didn't trust me. He was concerned for his safety, for his crew's safety," said Draycott.

The fire department says the meeting was supposed to be a team-building session in the wake of the scandal which broke out when Draycott claimed she was the victim of racist and sexist graffiti. However, Draycott says it turned into four hours of harassment.

On Friday, Houston Mayor Annise Parker condemned the meeting, saying Chief Phil Boriskie showed poor judgment by not stopping the meeting before it went south.

"Women in the fire services have not been treated as well as they should be in all instances and that will stop," she said.

To make matters worse, Friday, HFD Pipes and Drums organization unveiled a new calendar. And on its cover was a scantily clad female fighter. And we've learned the calendar was not sanctioned by the department.

Draycott's attorney questions the timing.

"It's tough enough, I would think, to be a firefighter as a female, but things like this, I imagine, don't help," said Joe Ahmad, Draycott's attorney.

Draycott, for now, remains on paid administrative leave, saying that if the meeting did anything, it encouraged her to fight even more.

"I'm going to go back to work at 54 on the A shift," said Draycott. "They're not running me off.

Friday afternoon, Chief Boriskie released a statement, saying, "Federal law supported Ms. Draycott's return to station 54. She had expressed publicly her desire to return there. There was more than one victim to the events that had occurred there, so emotions were high. Members of my staff, the department psychologist and I thought it was best that we be there."

We're told the department is investigating whether any disciplinary action will be handed down following the meeting.