Audit of Houston Fire Department Life Safety Bureau Generates 28 Findings; Raises Public Safety Questions
Independent audit addresses public safety, resource management, procedural concerns
The Office of the Houston City Controller released its performance audit of the Houston Fire Department Life Safety Bureau (LSB) today. The independent audit identified 28 opportunities for improvement in the areas of public safety, organizational structure, communication, recordkeeping, reporting, and resource management.
“This audit has identified several significant opportunities in the Bureau,” said Houston City Controller Chris Brown. “While it contains some of the findings we typically expect – opportunities to streamline communications, improve departmental training, update policies – the most pressing issues that this audit has uncovered relate to public safety.”
Initially requested by the Houston Fire Department and encompassing the periods of FY 2015 (July 2014 – June 2015) and FY 2016 (July 2015 – June 2016), the audit notes several inefficiencies that raise public safety concerns for the City of Houston. Most notably, the audit identifies lapses in inspection performance, recordkeeping, and consistency that precluded auditors from being able to confirm the number of structures that have been adequately inspected.
“We always anticipate a number of findings when we undertake an audit of an entity like HFD’s Life Safety Bureau,” added Controller Brown. "But the public safety concerns that this audit creates are significant and are now being addressed by the Houston Fire Department.”
The HFD Life Safety Bureau audit was first included in the 2016-2017 Audit Plan dated July 19, 2016. An audit entrance conference was held between the external auditor, Controller’s Office, and Houston Fire Department leadership on January 26, 2017 to set expectations and establish a timetable to ensure an efficient audit process. An exit conference was held on April 25, 2017 to discuss findings and receive responses from the Houston Fire Department.
“I want to thank Houston Fire Department leadership for working with the external auditor and the Controller’s Office throughout this process,” said Controller Brown. “Chief Peña and the entire HFD leadership team have been great partners, and have already begun to address many of the findings generated by this audit.”
“Ultimately, this is what our audits are designed to do – identify opportunities for improvement, make recommendations on implementation, and create a more efficient government for city taxpayers.”
The full Houston Fire Department Life Safety Bureau audit can be found at: https://www.houstontx.gov/controller/audit/reports/2017-10.pdf