Boston fire chief threatens to sue deputies

Boston Fire Chief Steve Abraira is threatening to sue 13 deputy chiefs for defamation. Credit: Google images
Boston Fire Chief Steve Abraira is threatening to sue 13 deputy chiefs for defamation. Credit: Google images

Boston Fire chief Steve Abraira will sue his deputy chiefs if they don’t stop making “defamatory” statements, his lawyer said.

The Boston Globe obtained a letter that attorney Louis M. Ciavarra sent to 13 deputy chiefs last week regarding a letter the deputies had sent to Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, criticizing Abraira’s handling of the marathon bombings.

The letter, signed by all but one of the department’s deputy chiefs, called Abraira’s “inactions” after the Boylston Street explosions “indefensible,” and claimed the marathon was just one example of the chief failing to take command.

“[Abraira] shields himself from immediate accountability while setting the stage for undermining the confidence and authority of his command staff,” the deputy chiefs wrote to Menino. “While acknowledging his ultimate accountability for department operations, he avoids on-the-scene responsibility.”

In response, Ciavarra told the deputies his firm will file a lawsuit against them “should any further such conduct ­occur.”

“Your conduct is nothing more than a transparent effort to hide the inadequacies of your own performance and to interfere with my client’s efforts to improve the Boston Fire Department,” Ciavarra wrote.

Ciavarra also attacked the deputies for sending the letter on April 26 — 11 days after the bombings.

“[The] timing of your letter, and in particular, linking it to the tragedy of April 15 is reprehensible,” Ciavarra said, calling it “a misplaced and frankly outrageous attack intended to strengthen your ability to reject and obstruct Chief ­Abraira’s efforts to bring the BFD in line with modern firefighting practices.”

Attorney Joseph Donnellan, who represents the deputy chiefs, said Ciavarra is trying to prevent them from testifying at a City Council hearing next month about their concerns. Donnellan also said the deputy chiefs would file a countersuit if Abraira takes legal action.

Abraira was appointed to lead the Boston Fire Department in 2011 after serving in Dallas and Miami, the first outsider to take the job.

Menino voiced support for Abraira after the deputy chiefs’ letter was publicized, saying, “He has a future as long as I am here.”

Fire Commissioner Roderick Fraser, who appointed Abraira, wouldn’t comment to the Globe about Ciavarra’s letter, but has said he ­approves of Abraira’s job performance.

Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBos


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