San Antonio Chief Disciplines Union President For Wearing Union Uniform

San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood has reprimanded IAFF 624 Local President Chris Steele for wearing a uniform that closely resembled a fire department uniform at a political event. The incident occurred on September 20, 2018 at a rally for a proposed charter amendment.

President Steele, who is also a District Chief, attended the rally wearing a uniform that included a white shirt with a badge and patch that differed from the fire department’s uniform due to the wording. According to the San Antonio Express News, where the fire department badge says “District Chief” and “San Antonio Fire Department” Steele’s badge says “President” and “San Antonio Fire Union”, and where the patch says “San Antonio Fire Department”, Steele’s says “San Antonio Fire Union.” The badges and patches are otherwise identical.

City policy prohibits members from wearing their uniforms while participating in political activity. According to MySanAntonio.com, Chief Hood issued a statement saying:

  • I recently issued District Chief Christopher Steele a written reprimand in response to his intentional attempt to circumvent the rules that prohibit wearing an official fire department uniform while participating in political activity.
  • It is clear that he went to great lengths to mislead the public by creating and wearing a fake uniform virtually indiscernible from the department’s standard issue uniforms during a political endorsement on Sept. 20.

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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