WBUR

In Wake Of Criticism, Boston Fire Chief Resigns

Audio report above by WBUR’s Bruce Gellerman

BOSTON — Boston’s fire chief, who faced criticism from deputies about his response to the Boston Marathon bombings and then threatened to sue them for defamation, has resigned.

Chief Steve Abraira will resign effective Friday, the department first announced in a tweet.

The resignation follows weeks of back-and-forth charges within department management.

They began with a letter to Mayor Thomas Menino, dated April 26, in which 13 deputy chiefs said Abraira failed to assume leadership upon arriving at the scene of the bombings.

“You can unequivocally consider this letter a vote of no confidence in Chief Abraira,” the deputy chiefs wrote.

Saying his subordinates had the situation under control, Abraira defended his actions. Fire Commissioner Roderick Fraser and Menino also expressed confidence in Abraira’s leadership.

Then, as The Boston Globe reports, “Abraira … threaten[ed] to sue the deputy chiefs if they continued what was described as defamatory attacks.”

Said Abraira in his resignation letter to Menino and Fraser Monday:

As you know, while I remained committed to our mission, and have greatly appreciated your support, the baseless attacks by the Deputy Chiefs, especially their actions of making this a matter of public debate by leaking their letter of April 26th to the press, has made it impossible for me to continue to do my job.

A Boston City Council hearing had been scheduled for later this month on the deputies’ criticism and the fire department’s bombings response.

Abraira was hired in late 2011 from outside the department. In his resignation letter, he thanked Menino and Fraser for “the courage you showed appointing me Chief even though I came from outside the City of Boston Fire Department,” but he also cited it as a point of friction within the ranks:

I believe it fair to say that your selection of me as Chief never had the support of a number of members of the Department who preferred that the Chief be selected from within the ranks of the Department itself. I think it is also fair to say that unfortunately a vocal and aggressive minority of the members of the Department did not support our efforts.

The department said Fraser has appointed Chief of Operations John Hasson, a 40-year veteran, as the acting chief.

– Here’s his full resignation letter (via Scribd):

Earlier Coverage:

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  • gossipy

    The antics of the Boston Fire Department over the past few years detracts from the entire fire service. They need to move into the current century.

  • maraith

    As someone who did not follow this story, I have to say the Department members have not met standards of fairness with regard to their Commissioner and come across as clinging to rules suitable to the past.

  • X-Ray

    Perhaps his resignation is warranted because he doesn’t have the confidence
    of his subordinates. But control at the Marathon event is not a basis for a
    rebuke. It was not a fire event, the Police agencies were properly in charge
    and a Fire department top level command was not needed or even desirable. This
    seems more like a turf war.

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