Hous­ton fire­fight­ers told to sit out storm

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL -

HOUS­TON — Thou­sands of Hous­ton fire­fight­ers were told 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 said Fri­day.

In an in­ter­view with Hous­ton tele­vi­sion sta­tion KHOU, Marty Lanc­ton said the Fire De­part­ment could have done more dur­ing the storm.

“I don’t want to hear about lack of re­sources,” Lanc­ton said. “Emer­gen­cies are some­thing you pre­pare for. You don’t have the an­swers, but you pre­pare. In this case, they weren’t pre­pared.”

On Aug. 27, as fast-rush­ing wa­ter chased people onto their rooftops, about 3,000 fire­fight­ers were in­structed not to re­port to work, ac­cord­ing to Lanc­ton, an ag­o­niz­ing or­der for many ea­ger to as­sist with res­cues.

“We’re sorry,” Lanc­ton said, fight­ing back tears. “Ev­ery Hous­ton fire­fighter would put their life on the line for any­body with­out ques­tion, with a mo­ment’s notice, and this is not dif­fer­ent.”

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

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