Arlington Fire union criticizes chief for not sending help to California

Some Arlington firefighters are upset that their chief said no to helping fight massive wildfires in California.

Arlington’s fire chief opted to keep his firefighters at home, unlike dozens of other Texas departments that answered the request for help this week. Wildfires continue to consume hundreds of thousands of acres and homes in Northern California.

"It's incredibly embarrassing,” said David Crow, president of Arlington Professional Firefighters.

Crow aimed his comments at Arlington Fire Chief Don Crowson, saying his decision was insulting.

"We believe that our firefighters are capable and competent,” Crow said. "There is no reason why our firefighters shouldn't be there"

Arlington's firefighter union initially criticized the chief on Facebook, including a list of cities that answered the call to send teams with Arlington on the list -- but crossed out.

Crowson declined to speak on camera. But in a statement sent to FOX4, he laid out nearly a dozen reasons why he won't be sending Arlington's Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System, or TIFMAS, team to the west coast.

Crowson claimed he hasn't actually received a formal request from the state to send his team. He also referenced drought conditions in Texas, wanting instead to keep his team close if they’re needed.

The chief questioned the management of the Mutual Aid System, saying "communications in the TIFMAS system is less than perfect in Texas... communications in California will be even less reliable"

He went on to say, "there is great risk to firefighters who engage in wildland firefighting" and "our team has not been trained for a mountainous California wildland environment.”

Arlington firefighter union officials disagree.

"We believe our firefighters that are on our TIFMAS teams are highly trained and certainly qualified to handle the challenges that they have in California,” Crow said.

The chief also referenced the death of Richard "Andy" Loller, the Weatherford firefighter killed in June while fighting fires in West Texas. Loller was part of a TIFMAS deployment.

Crowson said in the statement he just wants to ensure his firefighters are safe.

But his rank and file are seeing their counterparts from across the state pitch in to help and wish they could join them.

"Firefighter deaths are a reality in our profession and we believe that our firefighters would be as safe as they could be and would perform at a level that would bring them home whenever their task is done in California,” Crow said.

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