Fake firefighter uniform lands union president scathing reprimand

By Mariah Medina - Digital Journalist

SAN ANTONIO - A fake firefighter uniform landed San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association president Chris Steele a scathing reprimand from San Antonio Fire Department Chief Charles Hood.

Steele sported the fake uniform at a press conference Sept. 20 as he called for the city to vote yes on union-backed charter amendments later this year. 

Hood said Steele "went to great lengths to mislead the public by creating and wearing a fake uniform virtually indiscernible from the department’s standard issue uniforms," effectively circumventing rules that prohibit law enforcement from wearing official uniforms while participating in political activity.

Hood's full statement:

“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. I would hold any of my firefighters accountable for such behavior. His actions do not reflect the integrity of the hardworking men and women of the San Antonio Fire Department, and District Chief Steele is not exempt from our obligation to safeguard the trust and confidence of the people we are sworn to protect and serve, some of whom may be having the worst days of their lives.” –Fire Chief Charles Hood

Steele sported the fake uniform at a press conference at the Bexar County Democratic Party Headquarters, the same day he withdrew from a discussion on the highly contentious charter amendments alongside opponent Mayor Ron Nirenberg.

Hours prior to the start of the debate at the University of Texas at San Antonio, event organizers said Steele pulled out.

A fire union spokesperson refuted UTSA's statement, saying Steele did not back out at the last minute. Instead, they said, they were sending a spokesperson for the charter amendment campaign because, “As these are the people’s charter amendments and not the firefighters (sic), Chief Christopher Steele will not be attending.”

Steele declined KSAT's request for an on-camera in the immediate aftermath of the cancellation of the discussion.

Nirenberg withdrew shortly after Steele and held a press conference at his campaign headquarters where he blasted Steele on a variety of points, including Steele's fake fire uniform.

Nirenberg said the uniform exemplifies that Steele is a "total fraud."

"The fact of the matter is, Chris Steele is not qualified to wear a San Antonio fire uniform, so he has to go and make one," Nirenberg said.

As of 2 p.m. Monday, Steele had not responded to multiple requests for comment.

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