Houston Fire Chief Stepping Down, Reflects on Job

Houston Fire Chief Terry Garrison calls Houston a great city with a great fire department and Mayor Annise Parker, one of the best bosses he ever had. But he says family comes first, and is stepping down to help care for his ailing grandson in Arizona, reports KUHF FM 88.7.

The 56 year old Garrison will return to Phoenix to lend support to his wife and daughter caring for his 20 month old grandson Jack, who is undergoing medical treatment. He says weekend trips to Arizona are no longer sufficient.

“It was totally a family decision.There’s nobody on the grassy knoll. My wife and I had come to the point where we’ve living apart for about three years. She’d decided to stay to take care of the grand kid that we have who’s suffering from an illness which is perfect. I’m glad she did. I’m glad I had a chance for her to do that. I really feel fortunate that I can go home and be supportive and really help with the family.”
Garrison was hired away from a small department in Oceanside, California in 2010.

Mayor Annise Parker said in a statement that he installed the most diverse command staff in the department’s history.
Garrison says he’s had a lot of time to reflect on what went wrong in last May’s southwest Houston motel fire, that claimed the lives of four Houston firefighters:

“There was a time that we would just rush in to fires, but now we place, and one of the things that I brought here to Houston is a decision making model. So you arrive on a scene and you actually assist the risk. We’ll risk our lives a lot to save save-able lives, we’ll risk our lives a little to save save-able property, and we won’t risk our lives at all to save lives or property that’s already lost. So in this case, we thought we had lives in there, so we take the greatest amount of risk and we entered the fire. And that’s what was taking place.”

A final report will be issued soon. Garrison says he will now help Mayor Parker in naming his successor from a list of about a dozen candidates.

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