Today Mayor Parker named Executive Assistant Chief Rick Flanagan as the Interim Fire Chief when Phil Boriskie stepped down. Now Mayor Parker is faced with one of the toughest decisions she has had to make since taking office, and people will be watching to see how swiftly and smoothly she will handle the process.
This article on chron.com (see here) has a section about the problems HFD experienced under Phil Boriskie’s leadership. Most notably was the issue concerning a lack of women in the HFD. According to an article in July 2009 (see it here), there were only 103 female HFD members – or 2.6%, a small number when compared to other large cities. Minneapolis, for example, had 17% females in their fire department by July 2009.
So, does this matter? Although I’m huge on women’s rights, I say no since I don’t believe it is a matter of discrimination. I’m not sure why there are so few females in HFD, but that is something that should be researched before assuming there is a crisis. If they did research this, I don’t think they would find that the answer is discrimination because besides a few recent allegations of gender discrimination (which I think you will always see no matter what field you are in), I haven’t seen an outbreak of female HFD members saying that they are being discriminated against or from female HFD hopefuls who cannot get in because of discrimination. Hopefully they would come forward if this was indeed happening. If we research this problem and find discrimination was a factor, of course we need changes. Until then, let’s calm down and look for a new chief who is fair and competent and willing to look into the multiple issues of concern for the HFD.
Public safety should be number one for all elected officials, no matter what party you are affiliated with. At the end of the day, Houstonians who are in need of the HFD’s services don’t care about quotas and the politics behind picking the new HFD chief. Let’s just make sure we have a system that works.