Together They Can’t

1197648443Despite our misanthropic leanings, we here at Boston Daily sometimes like to think that people can set aside their petty differences to enact change. Usually it’s because we’ve had a bit too much to drink, but it’s a nice change of pace.

Sadly, the hope we had to see a shift in the culture of the Boston Fire Department was dashed this morning, with the news that Boston Firefighters Local 718 president Edward Kelly essentially destroyed the panel.

On Monday, the city took a first step in reforming the troubled Boston Fire Department. After an audit, the fire department formed a 13-member panel to work on changing its policies. At the time, everybody seemed happy to move forward. Even Kelly.

Edward Kelly, president of the Boston firefighters’ union, said he welcomed the new committee as a way for the department to plan for the future and stay up to date with developments in the field.

“I think it’s a great idea. It’s long overdue,” he said. “Had we had a strategic planning committee earlier, we might have done a better job keeping pace with industry standards in equipment.”

Imagine our semi-surprise when we opened up the paper today and found Kelly had quit the panel, taking his firefighters with him.

Edward Kelly, Local 718 president, said he resigned from the committee because he believed Fire Commissioner Roderick Fraser, a former Navy commander, was trying to seize control of the process and dictate terms to the union.

In a sign of how hard feelings are running: Kelly accused Fraser of excluding union leaders yesterday from the mayor’s annual Christmas party for fire officials.

You are a union official, not a 15-year-old girl who didn’t get invited to the cool kid’s party. Get over it. Especially since it was Fraser’s responsibility to pick the firefighters he wanted on the panel.

When he announced the formation of the committee, [Mayor Tom] Menino said it would be led by Fraser and would include four fire chiefs, a medical officer, two City Hall representatives, the union president, and four firefighters “appointed by the commissioner.” Fraser had the authority to appoint all members except for the City Hall representatives.

In a letter to the Commissioner, Kelly contests Fraser’s total control.

This framework, defined in Article XIX, Sec. 4, of the collective bargaining agreement between the Boston Firefighters Local 718 and the city of Boston, states “The Fire Commissioner and the Union shall establish by mutual agreement a joint …committee consisting of representatives of each party for the purpose of recommending sound…practices and rules.”

We hope that the feud will eventually be resolved, since this shouldn’t be about power grabs. It’s almost universally agreed that the Boston Fire Department has big problems, and the officials need to move past their sniping to solve them.

Now if you’ll excuse us, we’re returning to our normal jaded state.