Boston Fire Chief Steve Abraira demonstrated a lack of leadership in the immediate aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, according to 13 deputy fire chiefs.
In a letter to Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, obtained by the Boston Globe, the fire officials strongly criticized what they called Abraira's "inactions" after two explosive devices detonated near the marathon finish line, killing three people and wounding 264 others.
"His justification for failing to take action is indefensible," the April 26 letter said, pointing out that Boylston Street was still an active scene when Abraira arrived, with the possibility of more explosions.
"You can unequivocally consider this letter a vote of no confidence in Chief Abraira,” the deputy chiefs wrote.
The deputies said the April 15 blasts were just the latest incident where Abraira failed to take command, saying the chief "shields himself from immediate accountability while setting the stage for undermining the confidence and authority of his command staff. While acknowledging his ultimate accountability for department operations, he avoids on-the-scene responsibility."
In a phone interview with the Globe, Abraira said he acted appropriately after the bombings, since fire personnel had the situation under control.
“When I got there I was comfortable with what was going on,” he said. “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, and none of those things were in fact happening.”
Fire Commissioner Roderick Fraser told the Globe he has "the utmost confidence in my entire staff, my entire command staff, including Chief Abraira," but would not discuss the letter on the record.
Menino's spokeswoman, Dot Joyce, would not discuss the letter except to say that the mayor has "full confidence in Commissioner [Roderick] Fraser to do what's best for the department, including [in] his own personnel decisions."
Abraira was appointed to lead the Boston Fire Department in 2011 after serving as fire chief in Dallas and as an assistant chief in Miami.
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBos