Report: Racism, Sexism Are Not the Norm in Houston Fire Dept.


The Houston Fire Department is being encouraged to make some changes after months of allegations of racism and sexual discrimination, KPRC Local 2 reported.

The first set of findings by two independent law firms hired by the city of Houston was released on Tuesday.

The firms said they found that the allegations of racism and sexism by firefighters Jane Draycott and Paula Keyes were far from the norm.

"We did not see the same type of issues that originally caused us to be engaged -- the types of gender discrimination, trace discrimination," said Merri Schneider-Vogel with Prepared Independent Assessment.

In July, Draycott and Keyes said they found racist and sexist slurs scrawled around their dorms at fire station No. 54.

While the law firms were not hired to investigate specific claims, they said they kept the incident in the back of their minds as they interviewed 112 firefighters and HFD employees.

The firms said the complaints with the Houston Fire Department were no different than any other large agency.

"We are a family. Just like every family, we have our issues," said HFD Chief Phil Boriskie.

Otis Jordan, the soon-to-retire president of the Black Fire Fighters Association said the findings are not a surprise.

"It was expected for them to come out with that verdict. Those are people who were handpicked. They talked to who they wanted to talk to. People were scared to come forward. It happened once to Miss Draycott and Miss Keyes. That is one time too many," Jordan said.

The law firms did make the following recommendations.

The attorney for Keyes and Draycott said he was not surprised by the findings. He said of the three investigations into HFD's procedures, this was the least important to his case.

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