BOSTON (CBS) – His deputies label him the “ghost fire chief”. Fire chief Steve Abraira is taking heat from his command staff in a letter to Mayor Thomas Menino signed by 13 of the city’s 14 deputy fire chiefs. They cite “no confidence” claiming he failed to take command at the scene of the deadly Boston Marathon bombings.
“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 deputies claim he never announced his arrival on scene on the radio even as firefighters were still “heavily involved” helping victims and concerned about secondary explosions.
The letter quotes the chief as saying, “Once I arrived on scene, it was clear that our Command Officers had the incident well in hand.” But the deputies call it a justification that is “indefensible.”
Mayor Thomas Menino says he supports Abraira who came to the job a year and a half ago, and wants some facts. He’s asked Fire Commissioner Roderick Fraser to review national standards. “They’ve made all kinds of accusations in the letter. I want to make sure procedures were followed,” he said.
The deputies cite not only the marathon, but also a six alarm fire in East Boston where they claim Abraira didn’t assist, but climbed onto a roof to photograph himself by a burning a building.
At the NSTAR transformer explosion that plunged Boston into darkness, they say he didn’t communicate or coordinate resources, and has made changes in protocol which they claim allows the Chief, “to shield himself from immediate accountability white setting the stage for undermining the confidence and authority of his command staff.”
The deputies write, “eventually there will be a price to pay” if something is not done to address the situation. Abraira is a former Dallas Fire Chief, an outsider, which the Mayor suggests is part of the tension. “When an outsider comes in they have issues,” he says. “Normally the chief of the department is somebody from inside of the department.”