PRESS RELEASE: The Houston Professional Fire Fighters
Association announced today it will immediately appeal the firings of three
Houston Fire Department firefighters after a city investigation failed
to identify who added a racially insensitive comment to an electronic
patient care record several months ago.

Late Tuesday, Acting Fire Chief Rick Flanagan “indefinitely suspended”
the firefighters from Station 55. The firings will be appealed today to an
independent hearing examiner, the HPFFA said.

HPFFA President Jeff Caynon stated, “This inept city investigation –
which could not identify who wrote the comment – caused yet another
injustice for Houston firefighters and their families. Firing three
people for the despicable actions of a single person is legally and morally

When abusive investigative tactics by the city Office of Inspector
General failed, Caynon said, Flanagan simply fired all three firefighters
after they refused to admit to the city’s allegations and rejected 60-day
suspensions. The HPFFA alleges city investigators repeatedly violated state
law by denying the firefighters access to HPFFA or
legal representation during questioning. The firefighters were
questioned for up to six hours at a time.

Caynon added, “It’s ironic that one of Rick Flanagan’s final acts as
acting chief was to protect a firefighter who was videotaped allegedly
committing a crime in an HFD uniform yet he then fired firefighters
after an investigation that proved nothing – except his willingness to
destroy the reputations or careers of men whose innocence or guilt he
cannot determine. We are troubled by the city’s pattern of treatment of
firefighters in recent high-profile investigations – from the debunked
‘noose’ incident last year to the alleged HFD Station 54 graffiti
incident and now this travesty.”

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Statement from the Houston Fire Department

The Houston Fire Department confirms that disciplinary action was taken against three members regarding an incident in which a racial epithet was entered into an emergency medical record. The discipline was administered following due process for the members. Use of such language as described in the related complaint constitutes a violation of public trust and will not be tolerated by the Houston Fire Department.

One member received an indefinite suspension. Two other members were offered 60-day suspensions in lieu of indefinite suspension. Both chose indefinite suspension. All three are afforded the opportunity to appeal to a hearing examiner, as specified by contract. All three have chosen to appeal.