HOUSTON – Houston firefighters and Mayor Sylvester Turner have been at odds for some time over issues like pay and pensions. Now it appears infrastructure has become a sore point.
Firefighters complain many of the city’s fire stations need repairs that aren't getting done.
An example, station No. 68 at Bissonnet and Gessner streets. For years firefighters have complained of a persistently leaky roof, even after the station was remodeled in 2016. In heavy rain, firefighters still have to put out a bucket to prevent puddles.
“Ever since that repair, it has leaked every time it rained. Every single time,” said Marty Lancton, president of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association.
Another sore point is station No. 4 at 6530 W. Little York Road in northwest Houston, where traffic by heavy firetrucks wore potholes in the driveway. Firefighters complain when an alarm sounded the station’s pumper truck rocked from side to side as it slowly exited the station.
“You’re jolting the firetruck and you’re causing wear and tear which again is not the most efficient way to use taxpayer funds to repair things that should have been repaired months ago when they were reported,” Lancton said.
Firefighters finally filled in the holes themselves with concrete. The city did eventually make a more extensive repair last Friday.
“This is part of a broader issue that we have continued to see. The priority has not been the Fire Department for this mayor,” Lancton said.
But Turner’s spokesperson, Mary Benton, denied that. She says there’s been “no attempt to ignore the fire stations.” She said the city has a lot of priorities to contend with, including repairs still pending from Hurricane Harvey.
And she added that repair requests don’t fall on the mayor’s desk. They’re submitted to the city’s General Services Department.
On Tuesday afternoon, a spokesperson for GSD said the department waited to repair the driveway at station No. 4 in order to be sure workers wouldn’t interfere with Fire Department operations.
As for the leak in the roof of station No. 68, crews were sent to patch the leak in February and May but were unsuccessful.
A third attempt will be made Wednesday.