Mission Fire Fighters Respond to City Disciplinary Action Taken Against 22-Year Firefighter with Exemplary Record
MISSION, Texas, Nov. 9, 2020 – The Mission Firefighters Association has urged the City of Mission to rescind disciplinary actions taken against a 22-year firefighter who advocated for public safety issues at City Hall and then was punished after helping render aid at a vehicle accident while off-duty.
According to legal counsel for the firefighters association, the city violated the First Amendment rights of Mission Fire Department Lieutenant Mike Silva after he published photos intended to raise awareness of excellent service provided by the fire department at a vehicle accident scene in August 2020. Silva had stopped at the scene, helped render aid and reposition fire vehicles at the direction of the MFD incident commander, and then taken photographs of fire department activities.
In the second incident, the city also disciplined Silva after he expressed dissatisfaction at a city council meeting in January 2020 over the city’s failure to submit a timely grant application for equipment for the fire department. He then faced false charges in a complaint filed against him, according to legal counsel.
The written reprimands Silva received in both incidents violated his First Amendment rights, according to association attorney Matt Bachop, of Deats, Durst & Owen PLLC, in Austin. Silva, who was president of MFFA from 2004 to 2014, has served on the MFFA executive board since 2014.
MFFA President Robert Lopez said, “Lt. Silva has an exemplary service record in 22 years with the fire department – with no previous discipline history. In both cases, we believe, he did what he thought was right for the fire department, for firefighters and for public safety.”
The MFFA also is troubled that the MFD administration recently revised fire department operating procedures to prohibit off-duty firefighters from speaking with city council members and publishing information or opinions about matters of public concern, which are protected by the First Amendment. The move was an attempt at intimidation, the MFFA contends.
Lopez added, “Mission firefighters proudly deliver excellent service, are good stewards of city resources, and we give back to the community. We always advocate for public safety and a strong fire department. Whether on the fire ground or at an accident scene, at city hall or at the state capitol, we will fight for what we believe is right. We strive for cooperation with city officials on fire department issues, and a safe, fair workplace.”
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