Houston Fire Chief Terry Garrison resigns

Author: Phil Archer, Reporter, parcher@kprc.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 03:15:29 PM CST   Updated On: Nov 14 2013 07:56:18 PM CST
HOUSTON -

He's only been in office and with the Houston Fire Department for a little over three years, but on Thursday HFD Chief Terry Garrison announced his resignation effective at the end of the year.

"It's a great city, it really is. I'm absolutely going to miss Houston," Chief Garrison said.

He said he's going back to Phoenix to help his family care for his 2-year-old grandson, Jack. The little boy suffers from a disorder called 'failure to feed.' Garrison feels he's made the department more efficient, and a better place to work in his time here.

"We changed the culture. We changed the way we treat each other. I don't think it was as broken as some people say it was, but that was a priority," Garrison said.

He says the worst day of his entire career was on May 31 when four Houston firefighters were killed in the Southwest Inn motel fire that caused him to question how he was running the department.

"Was there something in our training, something in our culture was there something about us that harmed those firefighters?" he asked.

The fire is still under investigation, but Garrison says the evidence shows everyone was doing what they were supposed to do.

"I can tell you that the reports are going to say that was a very heavy roof with a lot of material on it. And the roof came in on us about 12 minutes after the initial call and about three minutes after we stepped into that structure," said Garrison. "We stepped into that structure to help people. In fact we're lucky we didn't hurt more firefighters or kill more firefighters."

Garrison said he will help Mayor Annise Parker select the next fire chief. He says it will be someone chosen from within the department.

Click here to read Garrison's resignation letter.