Houston fire union, fire chief disagree on reason for critical shortage of firefighters 

Houston Fire Department is dealing with a critical shortage during the COVID-19 pandemic, and some disagree on the reason.

The fire union tweeted on Thursday that the pandemic was a scapegoat.

"Due to HFD staffing shortage, the mayor has cut fire service at stations all over city, including Station 31 on north side," the tweet reads. "COVID-19 is excuse for, not the cause of HFD's lack of "surge capacity" in pandemic response. 400+ firefighters have left HFD for better jobs or retirement."

"The city of Houston is hemorrhaging firefighters," said firefighter union President Marty Lancton. "We have been in a staffing crisis for months so it's not ok if the city decides to use the COVID quarantine of firefighters as a cover-up to the statismic staffing problems the city has known about for months."

But Houston Fire Chief Sam Pena seems to disagree.

"COVID-19 is causing close to 200 firefighters to be out unavailable you can't discount the impact this pandemic is having on us," said Chief Pena.

"It means you do not have protection if you do not have firefighters and paramedics that are able to staff the units we're talking about minimum staffing," Lancton said. "This is a dangerous game the city continues to play."

"The consequence of proposition B passing at the end of 2019 was that we had to cancel 3 academy classes that made us miss our target of 186 firefighters," Pena said. "When it was overturned I couldn't just turn the faucet back on now we have to recruit all over again."