Union: Countless firefighters didn'' t work throughout Harvey

Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017|10:31 p.m.

HOUSTON– Countless Houston firefighters were informed to stay home at the height of Harvey’s flooding even as calls for help overwhelmed 911 dispatchers, the president of the city’s firefighters union stated Friday.

In an interview with Houston television station KHOU, Marty Lancton stated that the fire department might have done more throughout the storm.

“I don’t wish to hear about absence of resources,” Lancton said. “Emergency situations are something you prepare for. You don’t have the answers, however you prepare. In this case, they weren’t prepared.”

On Sunday, Aug. 27, as fast-rushing water chased after individuals onto their roofs, about 3,000 firefighters were instructed not to report to work, inning accordance with Lancton, a painful order for lots of eager to assist with saves.

“We’re sorry,” Lancton stated, fighting back tears. “Every Houston firemen would put their life on the line for any person without question, with a minute’s notice, and this is not different.”

Houston Fire Chief Sam Pena acknowledged that three-quarters of the force was asked not to report, however stated that the department was fully staffed.

“Everything we had available, we released in anticipation of that,” Pena stated.

The choice against a complete recall, which Pena stated was made based on staffing needs throughout previous disasters, left a team of 900 firemens accountable for 650 square miles of Houston. Numerous worked 2 or three days without a break.

Pena said he had not seen the data yet for response times from that Sunday but that in hindsight, he would have generated more firemens to make sure teams might rotate out every day.

The choice to not release more fire responders struck a nerve in southeast Houston, where Debbie Martinez and her 3-month-old granddaughter had actually waited on assistance as her home filled with water.

“There might have been people here to help us leave here,” she said. “It does not make good sense.”

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