What do we want of a Fire Department study?

Whatever it is, this wasn’t it.

A much-anticipated analysis of fire department operations essentially was dead on arrival Friday after it failed to identify cost savings and called for a multitude of investments, including three new fire stations.

Mayor Sylvester Turner promised to conduct another review of the $500 million department to supplement the $297,000 study, which came in roughly $1.7 million under budget.

“You get what you pay for,” Turner said. “I view this report as a starting point for what we need to learn more about. There will certainly be a second, more critical review by my own administration.”

The city solicited bids for the report two years ago amid concerns about resource allocation and a staffing shortage that increased overtime costs.

The 178-page report by Facets Consulting praised the Houston Fire Department’s “high degree of dedication” and took aim at budget cuts made after the 2008 recession It also criticized Houston’s voter-approved cap on property tax collections.


City Council’s public safety and homeland security committee is slated to take up the report Wednesday, and Turner said he expects the group to prepare an analysis by March.

Obviously, Mayor Turner is looking for a report that outlines ways that the city can save money on the fire department. Any deal involving pensions (for all three funds) is going to involve the city paying more in some places, so it needs to find savings elsewhere. This report outlined a bunch of ways in which the city could do more and do better, and I have no doubt many of those recommendations have a lot of merit. What they don’t have is a way to pay for them. Maybe someday later, but not now. That’s just how it is these days.

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2 Responses to What do we want of a Fire Department study?

  1. Steve Houston says:

    To be fair, the study was EXACTLY what the city ordered, ways to improve response times by HFD. The study can be found on the city website (I’d link to it but any responses I add links to either disappear or take days to be added) and uses the national standards against HFD policies to make suggestions for how to improve department operations.

    It was never intended to be a list of money saving items or have anything to do with pension reform, neither of which impact response times directly. As it was commissioned under a previous mayor a few years ago, I don’t fault Mayor Turner for not liking the results but like all such studies, you can either work with the results to improve life saving operations or ignore it/change it to suit your political purposes over saving lives.

  2. Military, police, fire spending is capital intensive. You’re not going to find savings in a growing city like houston, i’d hope not.

    The savings will be in a public bank, reforming tirz, expanding Medicaid, closing appraisal loopholes.

    How dumb can 16 people be that they can’t do something as simple as putting these non-partisan ideas in writing on a website?

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