Menino backs Boston fire chief despite criticism

Emergency personnel respond to the scene after two explosions went off near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. Credit: Getty
Emergency personnel respond to the scene after two explosions went off near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15. Credit: Getty

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino stood behind the city’s fire chief Wednesday, despite criticism from 13 deputy chiefs over how Steve Abraira responded to the Boston Marathon bombings.

“I’m the mayor of Boston and he has a future as long as I am here,” Menino, who is in the final year of a two-decade run as mayor, told reporters.

The letter to Menino, dated April 26 and signed by all but one of the department’s 14 deputy chiefs, said Abraira failed to assume command when he reached the scene of the bombing at the race’s finish line, where twin pressure-cooker bombs had exploded in a crowd of thousands of spectators and athletes.

Three people were killed and 264 others injured in the April 15 explosions.

Abraira told the Boston Globe that he followed “nationally accepted practice” in allowing his deputies to continue to direct the response.

On Wednesday, Menino said he believed Abraira acted appropriately.

“I think we came out of this marathon professionally; I think everybody did a good job, and to have a letter like that surface a month later, I wonder,” Menino said. “If it was an issue at the time, why wasn’t it brought to our attention immediately?”

A deputy who signed the letter but who didn’t want his name published told the Globe the deputies waited to send the letter out of respect for the bombing victims.

Menino said he planned to meet with the city’s fire commissioner, Roderick Fraser, to ensure that Abraira’s response met national standards and followed fire department protocol.

Abraira, who had previously served in Dallas and Miami, was named Boston fire chief in 2011, the first time an outsider was picked for that job.

Menino said it was normal to have tension within the department.

“The fire chief is relatively new on the job; he does come from another fire department, he’s an outsider and on a regular basis, when an outsider comes to the fire department you have issues,” Menino said. “There is always that little tension.”

With additional reporting from Reuters. Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBos



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