Prop B passes: Voters approve pay parity for Houston firefighters

HOUSTON – Hundreds of Houston firefighters who were not on duty Tuesday spent Election Day manning phone banks and canvassing polling places.

Their hard work paid off when Prop B passed Tuesday night.

The Firefighters' Union Headquarters on Freeman Street, north of downtown, was buzzing with activity all day long.

In a well-publicized ballot measure, Proposition B provides "pay-parity" between Houston Fire Department firefighters and Houston Police Department officers.

"Give firefighters a chance to have a fair and livable wage and treat them equally, just like the City of Houston does to our brave Houston police officers," said Patrick Lancton, president of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Union.

Houston firefighters make thousands of dollars less per year than their counterparts in Dallas, San Antonio and Austin. 

Mayor Sylvester Turner led the charge against Proposition B. Turner's campaign team said he wasn't available for comment Tuesday afternoon but would appear at an event later in the evening.

"We simply can't afford it," Turner said at a news conference two weeks ago with the Greater Houston Partnership, a large and powerful business organization.

In fact, Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pena, who was hired by Turner, has said publicly he does not support his firefighters' pay parity effort.

Turner said that if the Proposition B passes, it will cost the city $100 million the first year and will force the layoffs of hundreds of city workers, including firefighters and police officers.

Supporters of Prop B dismissed the mayor's figures as an inaccurate scare tactic, but have declined to provide alternative cost figures.