FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
President, San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association
210-699-9400 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Sept. 16, 2016
6 cadets address SAFD Chief memo, identify serious discrepancies
SAN ANTONIO, TX - The six cadets who were terminated by the San Antonio Fire Department in Aug. 2016 and the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association are taking a stand Friday to put an end to the “malicious rumors and misinformation circulating” regarding their termination.
The San Antonio Fire Chief released a memo to City of San Antonio employees Sept. 13, where he stated, “continued misinformation communicated through both mainstream and social media compel me to share the details of their resignations/terminations.”
“It’s ironic he would write that, given much of that ‘misinformation’ has been promulgated by the San Antonio Fire Department Chief and administration,” said Chris Steele, President of SAPFFA.
SAPFFA has identified six (6) areas where misinformation and rumors have unfortunately dragged these cadets’ names through the fire and have ultimately led to their story and public image being marred and obscured:
- San Antonio City officials initially stated on Aug. 24 the cadets had been fired for “drinking on duty while in uniform.” It was later found out the cadets were not in uniform and not on duty.
- On Aug. 25, the SAFD Chief implied to the media the cadets partook in more than “a burger and a beer,” but would not elaborate. It implied that had it just been a “burger in a beer” it would have been acceptable. We now know that it was just that and nothing more.
- The SAFD Chief made note in the Aug. 25 news conference that the cadets were given a document called “EMT Send-off for Cadets,” which details the cadets are to avoid “Hooters” type restaurants. The cadets never received the document. It was only read aloud in a class and was never given to them as part of any official policies and the cadets never signed the document. It should be noted there was a seventh cadet who did attend the gathering at Twin Peaks restaurant, but only consumed water. He was not terminated.
- The SAFD Chief also stated in the Aug. 25 news conference that a “thorough” 14-day investigation took place prior to the cadets’ termination. He also wrote in the Sept. 13 memo the “complaint was thoroughly investigated.” The SAFD Chief has never released specific details of this investigation nor has released any details as to whether any City official spoke with anyone at the Twin Peaks restaurant.
- A memo released on Sept. 13 by the SAFD Chief stated the cadets were instructed “not to consume alcohol, on duty or off-duty, while attending the Fire Training Academy.” Note that this policy is never stated in the Fire Academy Rules and Regulations, except for when referring to on-duty activities.
- The Sept. 13 memo also stated one of the factors before SAFD was that the cadets “mislead (sic) the UTHSC-SA staff to release them to study.” Previously, there is a statement in the memo detailing the preceptor who had released the cadets had stated they should use the extra time wisely and to “not do anything stupid.” The cadets stated they were asked to leave early and that it was in fact the preceptor who told them the morning of the shift that his boss was out of state and he would be leaving early for the day. The same preceptor had also released them early the day prior, with no explanation.
SAPFFA believes these men were not given due process and their constitutional rights were violated. The cadets stated when they were presented with termination and resignation papers, they were told by an SAFD Assistant Chief that if they resigned, they could work anywhere but San Antonio. The same Assistant Chief told them if they chose termination, he (SAFD Assistant Chief) would make sure they would never work for any fire department in the country.
“We are deeply disturbed by this revelation, because in a Fire Department, we believe in fostering a community of brotherhood and family,” said Steele. “We believe these men were coerced and bullied into their resignations.”
SAPFFA knows these six men to be exemplary leaders, who have spent years working to join the San Antonio Fire Department. They have traveled from other states, they are military veterans, they are fathers, college graduates, and dedicated first responders. They are conscientious people who would bring knowledge, resourcefulness, compassion, and commitment to this vast and mighty San Antonio Fire Department.
Tell City Council to help them get their jobs back