May 15, 2013

13 deputies criticize Boston fire chief for marathon response

The Associated Press

BOSTON — Boston's fire chief is facing criticism from 13 of his deputies for the way he handled the Boston Marathon bombings.

The deputy chiefs wrote a letter to Mayor Tom Menino dated April 26 that said Chief Steve Abraira failed to assume command or show leadership when he showed up at the scene of the April 15 explosions that killed three and injured more than 260.

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

The deputies said his response was the latest in a pattern of not taking command during emergencies and shielding himself from accountability. They said Abraira has reversed decades of protocol by not taking command as his predecessors did.

"His justification for failing to take action is indefensible," the deputies wrote.

Abraira told The Boston Globe his underlings had control of the scene when he arrived and he acted appropriately.

"The nationally accepted practice is that you only take command (as chief) if there's something going wrong or if you can strengthen the command position or if it's overwhelming for the incident commander," he said. "And none of those things were in fact happening."

Abraira, who was hired in November 2011, said the deputy chiefs are upset because he came from outside the department. The city's first Hispanic chief, he previously led the Dallas department and was an assistant chief in Miami.

Fire Commissioner Roderick Fraser, while not addressing the letter directly, said he has confidence in his entire command staff, including Abraira.

A spokeswoman for Menino said the mayor has "full confidence in Commissioner Fraser to do what's best for the department," including his personnel decisions.

 

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