HFD chief addresses fire response plan

HOUSTON – Houston Fire Department Chief Sam Peña said certain ways in which the department has operated in the past simply does not make sense.

“Nobody thinks it’s a good idea to see a $1 million piece of apparatus roll down the street for a twisted ankle,” he said.

It is for this reason as to why Peña wants to implement policy change regarding his department’s response to emergency calls that fail to reach a certain threshold.

In a sit-down interview with Channel 2 on Friday afternoon, the chief said, “We are not going to change the minimum staffing on the apparatus.”

However, the number of apparatuses and firefighters will change on specific calls for single family homes with approximately 2,000 square feet or less according to Peña, “We’re talking about those fire calls that are unconfirmed or those that it’s a check an outlet, check an appliance or a fire that is in the incipient stage or it hasn’t gone beyond the room of origin.”

Currently, 32 members of HFD roll out on fire incident calls according to the fire department. However, under the new guidelines being proposed only 20 people will be deployed under certain circumstances.

Peña said a full team of 32 will deploy if reports are that things are serious.

“Call comes in, there are flames on the roof we are going to send you the standard box, the full box,” he said.

As for those calls where only 20 are deployed, changes can be made at any time once more information is confirmed. Peña saying, “They can call an audible en route.”

The proposed cut in personnel is not only above the national standards but it simply makes sense according to Peña, “My focus is to ensure that I am being a good steward of public funds, a good steward of city resources, but I’m also ensuring that I am looking after the survivability and the safety of our firefighters and the citizens.”

Peña told Channel 2 Investigates that aside from firefighters receiving training, dispatch will receive training as well in order to properly determine how to classify incoming calls so that the proper number of personnel are deployed.