Fire Official Reprimanded After Speaking Out on San Benito Fire Department Staffing

POSTED: Friday, November 4, 2011 - 4:03pm

UPDATED: Thursday, February 2, 2012 - 2:45pm

He only wants the best for the citizens of San Benito. Henry Lopez who is speaking out as a member of the local union not the Fire Marshal says the San Benito Fire Department has operated with only six firefighters for several years now.

"I’m not trying to put the public at alarm or discredit the city or the fire department. That’s what they claim. That’s not what I’m doing. If they don't want to do anything about it then I’m making the public aware that we don't have enough firefighters to respond to a structure fire."

After addressing his most recent concerns, Lopez tells us he was reprimanded. He was given a written letter stating his conduct was “prejudicial to good order.” Lopez didn't sign the letter and says he doesn't see anything wrong with addressing these issues, especially when it involves the safety of more than 20,000 people.

"They say we can call Harlingen. We can call any neighboring city. Yes we can but Michelle, the main thing is responding at the moment. That’s when the fire is happening. You get me a firefighter 20 minutes after the fact, forget it, the building is gone. Within five minutes, that building can be engulfed in flames."

"They need more people. They’re doing one hell of a job but they need more. Why do you think they need more? The area in the last 4, 5, 6 years has grown, I mean way big."

Lopez has been with the San Benito Fire Department for 33 years and although he is scared of losing his job, he says he'll continue to bring up the short-staffing problem until it gets resolved.