HOUSTON (FOX 26) — In January, a class of 22 fire department cadets was kept from being sworn in. FOX 26 News has learned that 47 more cadets, who underwent nine months of training, are also being kept in limbo.
The City of Houston Our now has almost 70 cadets working as municipal employees, earning around $28,000 a year instead of $40,000 as a probationary firefighter.
"It’s a very sad reality when this mayor continues to defy the will of 300,000 voters, continues to play political games on the backs of public safety and it is time, way past time, for this mayor to stop playing games,” says Marty Lancton, president of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association
According to Lancton, it cost the city around $1.4 million for the training of the cadets who are waiting to be sworn in.
“Firefighters that have gone through this extensive training, who are certified in firefighting and EMS, we need them on the streets," adds Lancton. "We need more firefighters and this mayor is using them as political pawns."
Lancton says since the people of Houston voted for Proposition B back in November 2018, two classes of police cadets have been sworn in and are now protecting citizens.
FOX 26 News reached out to Mayor Sylvester Turner and his office issued the following statement:
The city always honors the efforts of potential firefighters who complete their academy training. The fire cadets who completed training are on the city payroll, but are not receiving probationary firefighter classification pay while negotiations continue between the city and the firefighters' union on how to carry out Proposition B.
Prop B calls for an approximately 29 percent increase in payroll for about 4,000 firefighters without creating a way to pay for the increase of $113 million in the first year alone. Employee layoffs and cuts to city services would be necessary without a negotiated agreement about how to bear the steep costs.
Lancton says the people will suffer since call volumes are up, and firefighters' lives will be at risk if they are short staffed.
"He needs to stop litigating, he needs to start leading, and he needs to stop putting firefighters and their families in the position that he continues to put them in,” says Lancton.
The Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association tells FOX 26 that there is fear this will also deter future firefighters from signing up for training, since there’s not much trust left with this administration.