HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Amid scorching temperatures, it is the ultimate irony - that is, many of the same first responders sent to rescue folks hurt by heat, actually have no air conditioning themselves.
According to Union Chief Marty Lancton, two dozen firefighting vehicles are currently operating without health-preserving A/C, a deficiency he believes contributed to a firefighter's heat related injury overnight.
"It is a huge health and safety concern and it needs to be fixed. No more excuses. Fix it," said Lancton.
Despite assurances from HFD leadership that everything possible is being done to speed up repairs, reaction on city council has been swift and loud.
"In this amount of heat, there's no reason our firefighters should have to respond to calls in an unairconditioned vehicle, in this day and age," said Council Member Mike Knox.
Council member and Mayoral Candidate Dwight Boykins went further, accusing Mayor Sylvester Turner of failure to insist on pre-emptive action which allowed the A/C breakdowns to hit critical mass.
"It's not right man. I don't know what his issue is with the fire department, but you can't get personal when you are leading the city as a public servant. We should make this a priority," said Boykins.
Speaking for HFD, Assistant Chief Ruy Lozano says outside contractors have joined city maintenance crews in a concerted effort to get the cool air on fire trucks flowing again.
As for the safety of first responders, Lozano says extra precautions have been ordered.
"It's a symptom of an aging fleet and it's very hot. I would prefer to have every A/C working absolutely, but I don't have that luxury. We are repairing them as quickly as we can," said Lozano.
FOX 26 contacted Mayor Turner's communication team seeking comment and received this response: