Firefighter's Legal Standoff With City Continues

Carrie Stewart battles city after cancer diagnosis

Firefighter's Legal Standoff With City Continues

City Council plans to hold executive session discussions on Austin Fire Department Lieutenant Carrie Stewart on Tuesday. Stewart's legal battle with the city over whether her line of work (and therefore employer) should be held responsible for giving her cancer was covered by KXAN last week. The Austin Firefighters Association is demanding that the city drop a lawsuit it filed against her to challenge the results of a previous ruling from the Texas Division of Workers' Compensation.

Stewart started at AFD 18 years ago, when firefighters understood much less about the dangers of the carcinogens released during fires. It was common practice during the first decade of her career for crews to come in from blazes and return to the station dinner table – bringing in smoke and chemicals still clinging to their gear. Procedures are different now: Firefighters shower and dispose of dirty equipment almost immediately after exposure to smoke and other toxic materials.

AFA President Bob Nicks said he tried to solve the issue quietly with the city manager's office, but felt he had to go to the media when those talks recently stalled. "Council found out about this issue shortly before we went to the media," he said. "So we're encouraged that they're planning to bring it up in executive session to discuss the issue. Our hope would be that they don't just discuss it, but take action and release the lawsuit against Lt. Carrie Stewart."

A city spokesperson said they are "aware of these alleged statements and we are currently reviewing the matter."

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Nina Hernandez, Sept. 21, 2018

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Carrie Stewart, Bob Nicks, Austin Firefighters Association

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