Issue 18
September 2019
HFD Honors the Life of Firefighter Kenneth Stavinoha

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Kenneth Dale Stavinoha of Houston, Texas, passed away on September 21, 2019 while on duty at Station 27-D.  He was 36 years old. He leaves behind a wife, Jessica.  Members of HFD and the community gathered to say goodbye in a touching processional and memorial service.   A private burial followed.  

Fire Chief Sam Peña Secures More Funds for Health and Safety Equipment

Fire Chief Sam Peña’s efforts to improve the health and safety of firefighters has moved to the next phase with recent award of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG).
The purpose of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program is to protect the health and safety of the public and firefighting personnel against fire and fire-related hazards.
Amount awarded: 
The following are the budgeted estimates for this award (including Federal share plus City of Houston’s share):

  • Total approved project budget: $3,107,046.

  • The 2018 AFG award amount is $2,701,779.13 with a cash match requirement of 15% or $405,266.87

Approved scope of work: (two projects)
The grant projects are:

  • Modify Facilities:  Vehicle exhaust extraction system installation in 30 fire stations (Total: $1,800,017).

    • Grant Funds $1,565,233

    • Cash Match $234,787

  • Training:  Incident Command training for 650 EOs and 30 recently promoted officers (Total: $1,307,029).

    • Grant funds $1,136,546.13

    • Cash Match $170,482.87

(Project #1) Modify Facilities- Source Capture Exhaust System(s)
Given the extremely busy emergency response system present in Houston, our fire fighters are exposed to vehicle fumes on a routine basis. When these vehicles are started, the exhaust can infiltrate the living and sleeping areas of the fire stations that are staffed 24/7/365. HFD is focusing on improving the health of its firefighters by reducing exposure to vehicle exhaust, a known carcinogen, at 30 of the busiest fire stations in the City through the installation of vehicle exhaust removal systems.  This will be in addition to the stations upgraded through a corporate donation and 15 stations upgraded earlier this year through the 2017 AFG grant. That leaves just 47 stations to upgrade. 

(Project #2 )Training- Incident Command Training
Incident Management Course (NFA/EMI/NWFCG) The Incident Command training program provides Fire Departments with a training and certification system that defines the best Standard Command Practices for local and common Strategic and Tactical emergency operations conducted on the most common emergency events. This training and certification program produces Incident Commanders that make better decisions that potentially eliminate the lethal and/or costly mistakes that can cause injury, death, and unnecessary fire losses.

This is second year the HFD has been able to secure funds from the AFG program. In July of 2018, the HFD was awarded the grant in the amount of $703,914, with a grant match obligation of $70,391.  Mayor Sylvester Turner and the Houston City Council approved the matching funds. Fire Chief Sam Peña will continue his efforts to protect the health of Houston firefighters by  seeking out funding options for the remaining stations still in need of this important equipment.

Update on High Water Rescue and Response Program 

A major investment in the high-water response program has been made since Hurricane Harvey to address the Houston Fire Department’s need for flood response equipment, assets and trained personnel.
The City of Houston is subject to flooding that may result in casualties and/or damage to property. The most frequent flood hazard in Houston is flash flooding. Riverine flooding and dam/levee failure are possible but considered less likely due to adequate maintenance practices. The most common flash flooding service demand is stranded motorist resulting from street-level flooding.  

Below is a summary of funding allocation:

From FY18 through FY19, approximately $2.3M has been invested into development and improvement of the High-WaterRescue and Response program.

Grants and Donations:

• Evacuation Boats ​$196,000
• Rescue Boats ​​$78,000
• High Water Vehicles​$319,012

General Fund Allocations:

• Evacuation Boats​$132,000
• Rescue Boats​​$52,000
• High Water Vehicles​$398,765
• Wave Runners​​$39,000
• Prime Movers​​$800,000

Training: Established and 80-member Water Strike Team

• Basic Flood Water and Evacuation Boat Training
• Swift Water Ops/Technician Rescue Boat Training
• High-Water Vehicle Operation Training
• Personnel Equipment and Tools
• Total investment ​$320,000

HFD Takes the Prize Against HPD in Fitness Challenge

Shrink Rap

Adding Heat to Your Sex Life: Two Sides to Intimacy

By Autena Torbati, Psychology Intern


Have you found yourself feeling unsatisfied with your sex life? Has the fire gone out? If so, you are not alone.

A recent study found only half of people in relationships report feeling satisfied with their sex life (Frederick et al., 2016). Typically, couples complain about a lack of frequency, and tend to focus on what is missing from the physical aspect of their relationship. What many couples forget is that sexual satisfaction is not only about physical intimacy.

There is another type of intimacy – emotional intimacy – that can play a big role in the quality of your sex life. Sometimes, improving the emotional intimacy in a relationship can result in improvements in the physical side of intimacy too.

Here are some things to consider: What is emotional intimacy?

Emotional intimacy refers to a feeling of closeness between a couple that involves a deep level of trust, communication, and vulnerability and leaves both partners feeling secure and loved in the relationship.  

Here are some things to consider: What is emotional intimacy?

Emotional intimacy refers to a feeling of closeness between a couple that involves a deep level of trust, communication, and vulnerability and leaves both partners feeling secure and loved in the relationship.  

How is emotional intimacy related to your sex life?

Couples who describe their marriage as sexless often report that they stopped having sex because sex was no longer based on emotional connection. Research shows that deep, meaningful communication, love, and acceptance of your partner are some of the most important factors to address to improve your sex life (Stritof, 2019). Emotional intimacy has also been shown to lead to a more satisfying sexual experience, and a 2013 survey by Durex found that 93% of individuals report being emotionally connected to their partner results in the best sex.  

What gets in the way of emotional intimacy?

Often, we may not even realize when our relationship starts to lack emotional intimacy. Some things that can get in the way are: Communicating and spending more time on electronics than with each other in person; not spending as much quality time together – or focusing more on kids or work when you are together instead of on each other and your relationship; and not getting help when you need it. Research has shown that even amongst couples who report being unsatisfied with their sex life, only 17% sought out professional help (Rodman, 2015).  

What can you do?

To start, plan a time each day to engage in meaningful conversation with your partner, or try  to plan more activities to do together as a couple. If you need it, seek counseling. Counseling can help you and your partner identify what is missing from your relationship and help you learn and implement new practices to bring your relationship to a better place.


The Houston Fire Department offers free couples counseling services to Firefighters and their partners.  Contact HFD Psychological Services if you are interested in learning more about how to improve the intimacy in your relationship.

There are many ways to get support for yourself and your romantic partner.


HFD Staff Psychologists    

Dr. Sam Buser 281-799-8032

Dr. Jana Tran 281-901-4341


Captain Bobby Delgado 281-409-9256

Member Advocate

Captain Laura Hunter 281-896-9499

FSN Assistant

EO Richard Ponce 281-386-5032


Autena Torbati, B.A. is an HFD Psychology Intern working with Dr. Sam Buser and Dr. Jana Tran,  HFD Staff Psychologists. Autena is a doctoral student in the UH Counseling Psychology program.

Texans First Responders Day

Proud to participate in the Houston Texans  First Responders Game!  Check out this flag display!  Thanks to all the firefighters who took part as well as all Houston first responders! 

Fiestas Patrias Parade

Honored to take part in the Fiestas Patrias Parade!  Thanks to the crew from Tower 6 and all those who participated! 

New Firefighter Recruits Take Physical Ability Test

HFD’s recruiting team conducted a Physical Ability Test for applicants this morning. We wish all applicants best of luck! 

Firefighter Thanks Fellow Firefighters

Firefighter Alex Poncio thanks fellow HFD members of Station 31 that saved his father’s life. The Poncio family is extremely grateful. 

Letter of Thanks

Words are not enough to let you all know how grateful I am to all HFD and other fire/EMS departments in the Houston Area. Thank you for your brave hearts of service to help us all in the community. May you all be safe & God bless.

  • Luna 

HIPAA Update



enacted 1996.


Mission Statement

This monthly newsletter is to keep H.F.D. personnel informed of HIPAA news and regulations throughout the year in concomitance with the yearly Moodle class.




On May 21, 2019, HHS (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services) finalized its “Conscience Protection Rule” that is set to go into effect on July 22, 2019. In light of significant litigation over the rule, HHS agreed to a stipulated request to delay the effective date of the rule until November 22, 2019, pursuant to Administrative Procedure Act § 705, in order to allow the parties more time to respond to the litigation and to grant entities affected by the rule more time to prepare for compliance.


In a short summary, the “Conscience Protection Rule” ensures protection of Healthcare entities and professionals who will not participate in actions which violate their conscience and religious freedom.  Ex.  The taking of a human life.


Note:  This information was taken from the OCR (Office for Civil Rights) page and the HHS Press Office page dated May 2, 2019 from the article “HHS Announces Final Conscience Rule Protecting Health Care Entities and Individuals.”



HFD HIPAA Compliance Officer:

Kenneth W. Payne

Chief Communications

Office #832-394-6865

Cell #713-299-2872

Taiwan Fire Department Visit

Firefighters from Taipei City, Taiwan visit HFD Station 10. The crew gave them a tour of the station and were happy to answer any questions. 

Houston Rockets 9/11 Visit

Thank you to Houston Rockets and Chick-fli-a for the 9/11 first responder appreciation.  Thank you to Rocket players Gary Clark, Gerald Green, Danuel House Jr., Hall of famers Elvin Hayes and Calvin Murphy, Clutch the Bear, Clutch City Dancers, and CEO Tad Brown.  Fire house 84 truly appreciates the time y’all took to come and visit.

September Stats

For September 2019, HFD responded to 30,081 incidents (25,995 EMS service calls & 4,086 fire service calls)


Top responding units during this same time period:

  • Ambulance 7 - 443 responses

  • Ambulance Supervisor 30 - 245 responses

  • District Chief 46 - 78 responses

  • Engine 7 – 458 responses

  • Ladder 7 - 167 responses

  • Medic 33 - 384 responses

  • Safety Officer 24 –163 responses

  • Senior Ambulance Supervisor 33 - 107 responses

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to submit a question to Fire Chief, to Sam Peña 

Chief's Corner