By Calvin Palmer
It is more a case of backlash than backdraft within Houston Fire Department these days following the discovery this morning of racist graffiti scrawled on the door of the female quarters at Intercontinental Airport’s Fire Station 54.
The discovery by two female firefighters – one black and one white – as they reported for duty, comes just weeks after the City Council set aside $60,000 for firefighter sensitivity training after a noose-like knot was found in the locker of a veteran departmental captain.
Executive Assistant Chief Rick Flanagan said: “This is so distasteful, so painful, so despicable.”
The city’s office of the inspector general is heading the investigation into the incident.
“We do not condone these actions,” said Fire Chief Phil Boriskie. “We view this as criminal and we will prosecute this to the fullest.”
Boriskie said he was “personally angry, disappointed, embarrassed and bothered” but added that the graffiti may not have been written by a firefighter.
Flanagan said only those with FAA clearance have access to the fire station, which is assigned to handle aircraft emergencies.
Fire Capt Otis Jordan, president of the Houston Black Firefighters Association, however, said that one of the women who made today’s discovery recently had filed a complaint regarding vandalism in Station 54’s women’s quarters.
Jordan said the complaint concerned the disconnection of cold water in the women’s shower. Jordan also reported that someone had urinated in the sinks and against the walls of the women’s restroom.
Fire department officials were unavailable for comment regarding his allegations.
Jordan described this morning’s incident as “the old traditional crap”.
Today’s incident saw renewed calls from black activist Deric Muhammad for the resignation of Boriskie.
Muhammad called for Boriskie’s resignation following the discovery of a “noose” in the locker of Capt Keith Smith.
Smith told city officials the rope was in reality a fisherman’s knot, which he had kept in honor of the firefighter who taught him to tie it.
“Only strong leadership can root out the cancer of racism in the Houston Fire Department,” Muhammad said today.
[Based on a report by the Houston Chronicle.]