Houston firefighters told to sit out storm
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.