Issue 2
HFD Continues to Update Fleet 
May 2018
By: Sheldra Brigham

Four more pumper trucks are joining the Houston Fire Department’s fleet.  They were put on display recently outside Houston City Hall. The new Spartan Engines are equipped with many safety features to including David Clark intercom headset communication system/hearing protection, Backup camera with a microphone transmitting sound inside the cab for the engineer operator, a frontal collision airbag system, full curtain impact side airbag system, seatbelt pre-tensioner system to keep the firefighters locked into their seats if involved in a collision,

 an anti-theft door lock system, In-cab tool brackets complying with NFPA safety requirements, and Independent Front Suspension providing improved ride quality and safety for the long term health of firefighters. The decision of assignment was based on call volume, age of current apparatus and annual maintenance cost.

Closer Look: High Water Vehicle Tour
More Ambulances Coming

The Houston City Council has approved the purchase of seven new ambulances cabs & chassis mounted with modular bodies and two additional modular bodies.These seven new complete ambulances will be an addition to the Houston Fire Departments fleet. The two modular bodies will be used to replace font line modular bodies that has exceeded their useful life. The new ambulances and modular bodies are being purchased by two Houston Vendors Knapp Chevrolet and Frazer, Inc. Thus promoting business within the City of Houston.

Operations Update
By: Asst. Chief Herbert Griffin

The Houston Fire Department has developed a Marine Group to serve the city during water related events. The Marine Group will address the flooding and Swift Water emergencies that continually threaten the safety of our citizens. HFD will respond to swift and flood water incidents that are dynamic and require rapid and effective decision making to perform a successful and safe rescue.

Members have several resources available including: high water rescue vehicles, rescue boats, evacuation boats, wave runners, prime movers, and unmanned aircraft system (Drones)

Below are a few other notable happenings from Operations: 

HFD is also preparing to roll out a new In-line mask communication system in FY19 consisting of: New Portable Motorola Radio, Mask, Hood, SCBA and In-line communication system.

HFD Fire Station #92 is currently being designed for a full renovation.

HFD Emergency Operations is currently assessing the different Accountability System for future implementation.

Houston Fire Takes Part in the MDA'S Fill the Boot Campaign

Take a look at Houston Firefighters working hard across the city to raise money for Muscular Dystrophy. The goal is to surpass all other cities in fundraising this year. 

More Houston Fire Stations Adopted by the Astros and Gardner Denver

The Houston Astros and Gardner Denver are continuing their partnership to Adopt Houston fire stations. Their latest visit was to Station 41. Bradley Peacock along with representatives from Gardner Denver met with crew members and took a station tour. More stations are being scheduled for upcoming visits. 

OEC Happenings
By: John W. Syzdek Deputy Chief Communications

The Fire museum is working with OEC to set up a display in the Houston Emergency Center. It is a vintage unit status board from the old fire alarm building designed and built by Deputy Chief W. W. “Bill” Hausinger retired in 1978. It is a great piece of Houston Fire Department history. The display should be completed before the end of the year.

Psychiatric calls were reduced in the month of March by 105 runs due to the on-going and successful Crisis Call Diversion program. January diversions were 78, February 86, & March 105 for a first quarter total of 269. CCD counselors were effectively able to handle these calls, thus conserving our HFD resources.

Yoakum Football Coach Thank First Responders for Saving His Life
By: Diana J. Rodriquez 

Coach Richard Owens happened to be in Houston last summer -- attending a Texas High School Coaches conference at the George R. Brown (GRB) Convention center when he started having chest pain.  EMTs and paramedics in the First Aid station at the GRB came to his rescue.  They called 9-1-1 and grabbed the Public Access defibrillator. Houston Fire Department members from several stations responded quickly and determined he was indeed having a heart attack. He had the classic symptoms: crushing chest pain, shortness of breath and pain radiating down his arms and a family history of heart disease.  HFD EMTs and paramedics monitored his heart and quickly realized how critical he was and transported him via ambulance.When they arrived at the hospital, Owens lost pulses in the hospital and received CPR

and advanced life support.  He recieved  several stents and about a week later, returned to Yoakum to his family: wife, Rachael, son, Ethan, and daughter, Kelsi Carr.  They believe he survived because of the care he received in Houston. The Owens came back to Houston to meet and thank everyone involved who recognized his critical condition and cared for him like family before he got to the hospital. 

Great job to those below:

• First Response Medic Services:  EMT Debbie Rice; EMT-Paramedic Rick Hernandez (Retired HFD), Sr. 9-1-1 PSAP Supervisor Fire/EMS – Crystal Peck, Squad 08: E/O Paramedic Joseph Medina; FF Paramedic Justin Roberts, Ambulance 09: E/O EMT Trenton Stradley; FF EMT Henry Benavides

District Chief Dennis Fisher on Hangin' with Heroes 


What is Hangin’ with Heroes? 

Hangin' with Heroes is a strictly volunteer organization whose singular focus is bringing joy and comfort to children hospitalized in local facilities like Texas Children's and Children's Memorial Hermann. Firefighters will generally visit for about 2 hours, every other month, in the hospitals' activity centers. They play games with the children as well as hand out coloring books, plastic fire helmets, and teddy bears, all generously donated through either our parent organization, "Firefighters Helping Firefighters" or HFD EMS Command. We have also been a part of several "Fun Fairs" held at each of the hospitals.

How did Hangin’ with Heroes start?

While hospitalized at TIRR, retired District Chief David Elliotts' wife became close with several of the children who were also there. She expressed to David how the children lifted her spirits every time she was around them and that she wished she could do more to comfort them. After succumbing to her illness, David decided to start a volunteer organization that reached out to sick and injured children, as a memorial to his wife. Hangin' with Heroes was then founded in the summer of 2014.


What’s your involvement?

After being involved in the first visit to Texas Children's Hospital in December of 2014, I was hooked. When David's time began to be monopolized with Firefighters Helping Firefighters and the Rotary Fire Fighters Home, I approached him about taking over the organization and seeing it to its' full potential. He agreed and I've been coordinating the visits since.


How long have you been with the department? 

35 years


What do you love most about Hangin’ with Heroes? 

No matter how tired I am, every time I show up at the hospital to visit the kid's, I feel re-energized. Seeing them smile as they interact with our volunteers is extremely uplifting and really makes you appreciate life.


How can others get involved?

It's easy. You can email me at I'll place you on our email list and notify you of upcoming visits. You can also watch for our email blasts through your HFD email. Paul Box has been gracious enough to create a flyer for us that he sends out when I notify him of upcoming events.


Why is the program rewarding?

Firefighters typically interact with individuals that are experiencing a chaotic and devastating event, whether it be a fire or medical situation. We manage those situations for them, but rarely have an opportunity to spend time with them afterwards and connect with them. Hangin' with Heroes provides that opportunity and allows us to give back to a segment of the community, children, who look to us as heroes. I believe everyone who is involved with this organization would echo my sentiments, we are not the heroes. The children we spend time with are the real Heroes!

Emergency Response
By: Asst. Chief Isaac Garcia
Transfer Policy

The revisions to the HFD Transfer Policy has been completed. The Operations and Special Operations posting is on the schedule. Our goal is to have Transfer Postings regularly. Currently HFD Operations has 3650 on-shift personnel assigned with approximately 912 personnel assigned per shift. Although some stations are short personnel and stations are over/plus personnel, the shift balance is less than 1% difference across all 4 shifts. The Posting will reconcile the imbalance among the stations.

Guaranteed Holiday 
Professional Development

Emergency Response has seen improvement regarding attendance and unscheduled absences has stabilized. We are presenting to Chief Pena and Finance a proposal to restore the Guaranteed Holiday program. Initially the department will explore holidays at 2.5 % of minimum staffing. Our goal is to have a working Guaranteed Holiday program by July 1, 2018. There will be some blackout dates however we believe the program will be beneficial to the members.

Emergency Response is pleased to see an improvement regarding EMS record completions. We need to continue to improve with complete and accurate records. EMS records have been our focus however fire records are just as important. Image Trend Elite Fire Records should go live in June 2018. We are working on the Hydrant modules and running tests now. Currently we are looking to adjust our hydrant inspection model to annual requirements vs bi-annual. Our Dispatch steering team needs complete and accurate data to continue to make improvements to our response model. Two major shifts that you will see is regarding automatic alarms and elevator rescue call types. General Orders will come out soon with changes to these call types making response more efficient.

Professional Development will kick off the Bi-annual training plan beginning July 1, 2018. This plan is designed to have 8 hours of hands on training conducted with each member at least twice per year. The training will consist of fire related subjects, EMS topics and HR functions. This training model will ensure that each member of our department receives the training to be safe and successful. NPO classes for Captains and Sr. Captains will resume. Our goal is to have 2 groups completed by the end of September 2018.

Ready for Golf?
By: Paul Box

The 14th Annual Houston Firefighters Charity Golf Classic will be held May 21, 2018 at Pine Forest Country Club, 18003 Clay Road (between HWY 6 & Barker Cypress)

Tee Off: 9:00am and the cost: $150 per player.


The annual Houston Firefighters Charity Golf Classic benefits the Houston Firefighters Protection Fund (HFPF). The HFPF provides financial assistance to firefighters and their families to help cover emergency medical costs should they be admitted into the hospital for at least three days. These funds can be used for anything the families need to take care of their loved ones.


The entry fee includes: Great Goodie bags, breakfast provided by Whataburger, Panera Bread, the Kolache Factory, Shipley Donuts and Taco Cabana, a Fajita Buffet lunch, and a great course and facilities with expert staff.

Test your golf skills and win great prizes like trips, coolers and more.Sink a hole-in-one and win a Two-Year lease on a 2018 Lexus IS300 from Westside Lexus


This tournament also has the best silent auction and raffle prizes anywhere. Here is a small sample of what you can win:

JJ Watt autographed football donated by the Houston Texans and a lot more sports memorabilia. Golf for 4 on the Tournament Course at the Golf Club of Houston and more golf on some of Houston’s best courses.

Round Trip Air Fare donated by United Airlines

Weekend Getaways to some of Houston’s most luxurious hotels and dinners and some of Houston’s finest restaurants


New this year!

Live Auction- There are even more great prizes to win at our first tournament Live Auction hosted by Johnny Bravo. Be the high bidder and you can win a weekend stay at La Cantera Resort In San Antonio, or a Houston Astros package complete with a hotel stay and four field box passes to a game at Minute Maid Park. You can even win a golfers dream getaway to Pebble Beach-trip includes hotel, air fare and two days of golf at the legendary Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hill.

Council Member Makes New Facilities a Reality at Training Academy

Brand new restrooms are complete at the Houston Fire Department's Val Jahnke Training Facility Thanks to Houston Council Member Robert Gallegos. A couple of years ago, HFD identified a need for a stand-alone permanent restroom building in close proximity to the obstacle course on the academy campus. At that time, the cadets (women and men) at the training academy were sharing one temporary restroom building. The restrooms were used for removing safety gear and cleaning up after fire drills that sometimes include exposure to hazardous chemicals. The purchase and installation of the pre-fabricated restroom building was $250,000. Councilman Gallegos committed $140,000 from the District I Service Fund.


“I’m proud to have provided District I Service Dollars to help complete the new restrooms for HFD’s Val Jahnke Academy,” Said Councilman Gallegos. “The new restrooms are conveniently located in close proximity to the simulated training course on the academy campus where our cadets and firefighters train.”


The new restrooms will provide the HFD training academy something essential to the training operations for years to come.

Houston Fire Prepares for Big Climb Houston
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Shrink Wrap

Chief Pena and the crew of Station 68 were featured on Fox 26 prepping for Big Climb Houston! Chief Pena has agreed to be the spokesperson for the climb on May 19. 

It’s a fundraiser for the Leukemia  and Lymphoma society. First responders along with community members will climb 50 floors to the rooftop of Three Allen Center in downtown Houston. Let’s have a good team showing for HFD! Registration is being paid for by planet fitness for first responders.


1. To join the Team, register online at

2. Select “Join a Team”

3. When prompted, type in “Team HFD” as the team you would like to join

4. When prompted, type in the coupon code FREETEAM to get your $30 registration fee waived

Our Team HFD fundraising page is

This is Your Brain, This is Your Brain on Stress
By: Beth Gill Psychology Services Intern working under the supervision of staff Psychologists Dr. Sam Buser and Dr. Jana Tran

The apparatus is breaking down… Back to back calls on the box… Missing out on events with family and friends… These are all well-known examples of events that can cause stress for a firefighter. We all know what stress is and feels like, but why do we even get stressed?


Your Brain and The Stress Response

Back in the cavemen days, it was important for humans to know when there was danger to survive as a species. If you were out hunting and gathering and came across, let’s say, a bear, it would be important for your brain to tell your body “Hey, there’s a threat! We gotta take care of this!” Enter the Stress Response.

It starts with the amygdala, a part of your brain that helps process emotions. When it gets information that there is a potential threat, it turns on the stress response. Next, the brain communicates with the rest of your body that it’s time for “Fight, Flight, or Freeze.” Basically, this means reallocating all of the energy your body was using, to instead prepare against the threat by pumping you full of adrenaline. Your body will stay in the stress response until the amygdala perceives that the stressor is gone. That’s when the amygdala will turn the stress switch to off and the body can go back to focusing on saving energy, resting, and digesting.  


This worked out really well for the cavemen, and here we are in 2018 with the same setup. The problem is, when it comes to the stress response, our brain doesn’t know the difference between you being chased by a bear or you locking your keys in your car. It all starts the same chain reaction in the brain.  So even though we might not be in danger when we’re locked out of car, our brain is still telling our body the same signals: “Pump up those hormones” and “Stop what you were doing, and send all of that other energy to instead prepare for battle”. With so many stressors in modern day, combined with this stress response being an inherent part of your job as a firefighter, it can be problematic for our amygdala to keep turning on that stress response. Bottom line is, it’s not healthy for that much adrenaline and cortisol to be flowing through our veins. So how do we shut it off?


How To Tell Your Brain To Chill

Relaxation response: If your brain is stuck on the stress response, tell it to go to relaxation station instead. You can do this by practicing deep abdominal breathing, focusing on a soothing word (like “peace” or “calm”), visualize somewhere peaceful, repetitive prayer, or writing about how you feel.

Physical activity: Remember how I said during stress your brain tells your body to pump all those hormones and save up all that energy? It’s not good to have that stuff just sitting in your body with nowhere to go. Physical activity is a great way release all that energy and hormones your body has stored up. Bonus: Physical activity acts as a stress response you have control over. So your body gets used to turning that stress response on, and then most importantly, getting it turned off when you’re done with exercise and your brain perceives “Okay, no more stressor, time to rest guys.”

Social support: Talking it out with someone you trust is another way to keep all that stress from building up in your body. Talking it out and saying it out loud, can help your brain get the message “Oh yeah. Guess that danger is gone after all” and flip that stress switch to OFF.  


Talking to a therapist is just one of the many ways to de-stress. FYI, psychology services are free to you and your immediate family members. To get connected, please contact: 281-799-8032 or 281-901-4341.

Getting Involved 

Captain Holman and the E57/B with an engine and high water rescue truck at BBVA Compass Bank’s See Share Smile program for bring your child to work day!!! The children enjoyed it very much.

Movie Night with Softball

Councilmember Brenda Stardig is hosting this event.  It starts with a "Battle of the Branch" softball game between Houston   Fire and Houston Police from 6:45-7:45. The movie starts at 8:15 pm.  In addition there will be activities for the kids including inflatables, face painting, a photo booth, craft corner and concessions. 

Come out and show your support May 19, 2018 at the Spring Branch development center 8575 Pitner Rd., Houston, TX 77080. 

Community Meetings

Great visit with the Houston Consular Corps. Chief Pena spoke during a luncheon and after members toured Station 8. The group consists of approximately 95 foreign missions representing

the home countries.

Houston is the third largest Consular Corps in the United States. 

What You Need to Know About HIPAA
By: Chief Kenneth W. Payne
HIPAA Compliance Officer

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.


All H.F.D. personnel must become aware of responsibilities regarding confidentiality and management of “PHI.”

“PHI” (Protected Health Information) is any information, including genetic information, whether oral or recorded in any form or medium, that:

1.) Is created or received by a health care provider, health plan, or health care clearinghouse: and

2.) Relates to the past, present, or future physical or mental health or condition of an individual; the provision of health care to an individual; or the past, present, or future payment for the provision of health care to an individual. 

“PHI” constitutes the following patient information:  Names, Addresses, Dates, Phone Numbers, Fax Numbers, E-Mail addresses, Social Security Numbers, Medical Record Numbers, Full Face Photographic Images, and any contents of which can be used to make a reasonable assumption as to the patient’s identity.

A Letter of Thanks

Chief Pena:

Words cannot express our thanks to the EMS team who responded to a call last Monday morning (4/23) to the office building at 3773 Richmond where it appeared a young woman was having a stroke. That would be me. They arrived so quickly after the call and took me to Memorial Hermann TMC where I received incredible care. Their fast response and transport, along with the MHTMC Emergency Department and Mischer Neuroscience Institute team’s extraordinary care meant I not only survived, but experienced no loss of faculties. I have just returned home from a week in the hospital and look forward to a complete recovery. Your team was the first step in the top-notch care on my journey. Thank you for all your EMS crew do for our amazing city. We are truly blessed. If you can search the call records and find the responding team and supervisor, please share my gratitude and success story with them.


In deepest gratitude-


Kimberly Phipps-Nichol

Rotary Club of West U Action Team Leader

Hats Off!

The Houston Fire Department’s softball team defeated the Houston Police Department’s team - 22 to 12 in the First Annual Shoots and Ladders Tournament!

Man Credits HFD for Saving Him from Overdose

In March of 2017, Roger Gahunia suffered a drug overdose.  His friend found him unconscious and called 9-1-1. When HFD arrived, Roger was barely breathing and his pupils were pinpoint.  EMTs and paramedics performed advanced life support as he worsened.  He stopped breathing when they arrived at the Emergency Department in the hospital.  Fortunately, Roger survived. 

 Roger Gahunia made the choice to change his life.  He recently celebrated being sober for one-year and felt he needed to thank his rescuers.  He said, “I want to thank the EMTs and paramedics that didn’t judge me, they just took care of me and saved my life.”  


Roger’s heroes are came from different fire stations.  The Gahunia family will met them at Station 8 and thanked them for helping Roger -- so he could save himself.


Those involved: A028 EMTS: E/O Dominic Pannone, FF Adaryll Roquemore

M003 Paramedics: E/O Rafiq Cooper, FF Angel Flores Lopez, FF Daniel Sierra

April Top 10 Responding Stations

1.    55 – 1468 responses

2.    7 – 1389 responses.

3.    46 – 1375 responses

4.    8 – 1362 responses

5.    35 – 1287 responses

6.    67 – 1282 responses

7.    73 – 1179 responses

8.    51 – 1168 responses

9.    28 – 1151 responses

10.  33 – 1148 responses

Coming Up:

Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride May 12, 2018 

Depart for Start of Ride- Miller Outdoor Theatre

6000 Hermann Park Dr. Houston, TX 77030.  


Houston Fire Department Promotional Ceremony 

May 17, 2018 at 10am. Legacy Room 901 Bagby Street Houston, Texas 77002 

Brotherhood Ride

The Texas Brotherhood Ride consists of Firefighters, Police Officers and EMS personnel who ride bicycles to honor emergency responders who died in the line of duty. Their mission is to provide emotional and financial support to their families and co-workers. This year they will be honoring 11 Brothers who paid the ultimate sacrifice. The ride will start in New Orleans, Louisiana through San Antonio Texas, traveling over 650 miles, averaging 80-100 miles each day. This year they are riding for: Mike Louviere – Westwego Police Department

Spencer Chauvin – St. John Fire Department, Shawn Anderson – East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, Shannon Brown – Fenton Police Department, Clint Greenwood – Harris County Precinct 3, Endy Nddiobong Ekpanya – Pearland Police Department, Bill “Iron Bill” Dowling – Houston Fire Department, Steven Whitfield – Houston Fire Department, Steve Perez – Houston Police Department, Scott Deem – San Antonio Fire Department, Miguel Moreno – San Antonio Police Department.

Send us your ideas for HFD's Monthly Newsletter!

to submit a question to Fire Chief, to Sam Peña 

Chief's Corner