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A letter to the mayor stating no confidence in the fire chief usually comes after a vote from the union. In Boston, Mayor Thomas Menino has received such a letter from all 13 deputy chiefs who work for Chief Steve Abraira. The chief complaint, according to Dave Wedge of the Boston Herald who has the letter, is that Abraira is a “ghost fire chief” who never “assumed any command authority” at the Boston Marathon bombing and at other major incidents.
Abraira, who is the former fire chief in Dallas, Texas, is the first outside chief for the department and changed Boston Fire Department Policy that required the highest-ranking chief to take command. Abraira told the Herald he did this to comply with “national standards”.
“At a time when the City of Boston needed every first responder to take decisive action, Chief Abraira failed to get involved in operational decision-making or show any leadership,” the letter, signed by each deputy chief, reads. “You can unequivocally consider this letter a vote of no confidence in Chief Abraira.”
“Quite honestly, I thought everything was going very well with the deputies at the scene,” Abraira said tonight. “If you can strengthen command or if things are going badly then yes. But in this environment, it doesn’t make sense, because you have senior deputies and they do this every day. That’s what I want them to do. I want to let them do what they do every day.”
“If it’s necessary for me to assume command of our every day operation at incidents, then something’s wrong,” he said.
In addition to criticizing his handling of the marathon attack, the letter blasts Abraira for failing to take command at an electrical explosion and blackout in the Back Bay and a six-alarm blaze in East Boston. At the Eastie fire, the letter states that Abraira climbed onto a roof of an adjacent building “so that he could take a photograph of himself with the burning building in the background” for his “scrapbook.”