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HFD Chief Terry Garrison resigning at end of year

Friday, November 15, 2013
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Houston Fire Chief Terry Garrison is stepping down, effective at the end of the year, according to Mayor Annise Parker.

Mayor Parker's office sent out a release today, announcing that she's accepted Garrison's resignation from the position he's held for three years. He's reportedly going to return to Phoenix, Arizona, where his wife has remained to assist with a grandchild who's undergoing medical treatment.

"It is with regret, but great sympathy, that I have accepted the resignation of Fire Chief Garrison," said Mayor Parker. "He installed the most diverse command staff in the department's history."

In his formal letter of resignation, Chief Garrison thanked Mayor Parker and other city officials, and all members of the Houston Fire Department. He also reflected on last spring's southwest Houston mote fire that claimed the lives of four Houston firefighters.

"The loss of our members and those injured on May 31, 2013 has had a great impact on all of us," wrote Garrison. "And although it has brought us closer as an organization, it has also reminded me how important family is, and has played a role in my personal decision to return home."

Garrison was hired in 2010 by Mayor Parker. Nefore that, he was chief of a small department in Oceanside, California, but had spent several years as an assistant chief in Phoenix.

Garrison inherited a department that had come under fire for racist and sexist behavior. Firefighers union president Bryan Sky-Eagle says Garrison tackled those issues head-on.

"I think he cleaned it up, and he's had the most diverse command staff we ever had. He promotes women and minority positions. So I think he's done great strides with that," Sky-Eagle said.

Garrison also instituted a policy of reviews and post-fire analysis that identified and addressed problems. A source inside the department says those reviews identified continued problems with equipment and communication.

The source and the union confirm those are still issues that need to be addressed by the next chief.

As for the next chief, Mayor Parker has indicated she will be looking to promote from within the department.

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