Your anonymous Houston Fire Department Captain is back with another piece on Houston Mayor Turner.
Our pension has been cut 1.5 billion, saving the taxpayers almost net zero (see Bill Kings article about Houston pension reform post SB 2190 two years ago).
A voter referendum was placed and passed by the constituents of the city of Houston, how much more democratic can you get!?!?
We, Houston Firefighters, asked for one thing. The politicians trump it up to way more than it seems, but if you can pay a police officer xxx amount, can you also pay a Houston Firefighter the same amount.
We have a lot of reasons to ask for such a proposition.
With no real cost of living raise, rising insurance, rising retirement costs, and scraps on the table left over from mayors who spend every penny they can get their hands on, I (two promotions and 15 years of service later) have the exact amount of take home pay as I did in 2008. 11 years ago. Meanwhile i have been training and must be fluent in more types of rescue/response. Active shooter and getting medical care to civilians injured in such events. Hurricane/flood response, wildland firefighting, you name it. The Houston Fire Department is the citizens best chance at surviving an adverse event.
To quote Chief John Eversole-
“Our department takes 1,120 calls every day. Do you know how many of the calls the public expects perfection on? 1,120. Nobody calls the fire department and says, ‘Send me two dumb-ass firemen in a pickup truck.’ In three minutes they want five brain-surgeon decathlon champions to come and solve all their problems.”
We are a ISO class 1 fire department, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in insurance a year to constituents by our response model and results from extinguishment efforts. Some of our guys are Houston residents and voters, many others drive in and spend their days away from their families, with no real attachments to our city, to work for YOU. These “out of towners” are some of the best firemen I have ever known. They have received awards and accolades saving a citizen in cardiac arrest, or pulling a victim out of a burning house. I, as an officer, and you, as the public should be proud and feel a sense of pride that they are willing to die, away from their families for a city they cannot vote in, and citizens who they do not share zipcodes.
The citizens voted in a raise for us, and not the Mayor, him alone, wants to layoff 400 firefighters.
A report recently published by a news outlet showed $400 million in mayoral unchecked spending off projects that came in under budget. No checks and balances. No city council approval. What results? Our houses will still flood, our vehicles are still dismantled by potholes. Your house may still burn down because the fire truck at your station is out of service due to repairs that are unpaid for, and the truck is being held for collateral at a shop outside the city.
See through this, and demand accountability. This is the swamp of politics at its worst.
If the money isnt for what they want it to be spent on, then it becomes a doomsday scenario.
$400 million, unchecked, spending, and we are laying off 1/8 of the fire department over 90 million in increased costs.
This mayor needs to be put back in his place. His donors and contributors cut out of our taxpayer funding. Money needs to go to our basic city services, and the democratic process that has told our elected officials to value all public safety officials equally.
We will still be on the front line, regardless of outcome of ineptitude of elected officials.
I just hope our fight has opened even a small door of accountability towards reforming the swamp that is Houston politics.
(Editor’s note: the writer of this post did not want his/her name published. We have verified that this person is a captain in the fire department.)