Civil rights attorney Randall Kallinen says two Houston fire marshals were ordered not to write tickets for fire code violations at city-owned buildings. Kallinen says one of the fire marshalsreceived that order verbally from a senior fire inspector as recently as last week.
"Fire inspectors cannot be effective in gaining compliance with the fire code without the tools of enforcement, Kallinen said in a written press release. "Several city buildings are out of compliance and unsafe and yet the fire inspectors hands are tied."
Kallinen says the fire marshals will appear at a press conference Tuesday, and identify those buildings.
A top commander with the Houston Fire Department said flatly that the allegation is untrue, and described the two inspectors as disgruntled employees.
One of the men was transferred last week for filing too many unfounded complaints. Kallinen describes it as a retaliatory move by the department.
HFD spokesman Ruy Lozano said no order has been given to stop writing up fire code violations at city buildings.
"We do not exclude city buildings from any type of inspection or inspection process just because they're city buildings," Lozano said.
He says the department surveyed more than 2,000 city buildings earlier this year, and put them on a schedule for inspection.
"We only used to inspect city buildings when there was a permit or a complaint," Lozano said. "We took it upon ourselves and included them in inspection schedule so they'd get inspected with regularity."
An email to inspectors' supervisors dated Feb. 20 instructs that inspectors provide copies of their inspection reports to the city's General Services Division as well as the managers of individual buildings where inspections are performed.
Kallinen says the department's upper echelon may not be aware of the order the two inspectors received from their supervisor, which was not in writing. Kallinen says one of the men took his concerns to the city's Office of Inspector General recently, but was turned away.