Anti pay parity sign posted at site where 5 firefighters lost lives

For Houston firefighters it is hallowed ground, the scene of the catastrophic Southwest Inn inferno -- a blaze which killed five of their comrades and injured a dozen others.

Five years later, amid a contentious political fight for higher wages, a sign opposing pay parity for firefighters was placed on the chain link fence, roughly 25 yards beyond the barren concrete slab bearing crosses for the fallen.

Firefighter Union Chief Marty Lancton called it an unforgivable act of disrespect.

"I don't know how you walk up here and see five flags flying, the thin red line and the 13 that were injured and not understand that this is not the place to show your disdain and your vindictiveness toward Houston Firefighters," said Lancton

Captain "Iron Bill" Dowling eventually succumbed to horrific injuries suffered at the Southwest Inn.

His widow Jacki says she was driven to tears by the sheer callousness of those who would demean a cause in which her husband believed and at the very place where he sacrificed all.

"There's no doubt it was on purpose. It was meant to hurt and it did and it hurt the wrong people. It hurt the families. We are innocent in this," said Dowling.

A spokesperson for Protect Houston, the political action committee responsible for the sign, described the placement as inadvertent and welcomed its removal Tuesday night.

At City Hall, Mayor Sylvester Turner, who is bankrolling the PAC and leading the fight against pay parity, stopped short of an apology.

"I don't know who put it there. I'm just saying whoever put it there, it's important to be respectful and not just of places, but family members as well," said Turner.

Supporters of the Mayor noted that firefighters have left a poster on the Southwest Inn fence supporting Prop B.

Firefighters believe Bill Dowling and the others have more than earned that privilege.