A powerful cadre of deputy fire chiefs in Boston cited changes in “running’’ cards for Logan Airport as one in a list of reasons for running Steve Abraira — the city’s hapless fire chief — out of town last week. Boston Fire Commissioner Rod Fraser attributes the trouble to the deputies’ contempt of any boss who doesn’t rise through their ranks. But the incident does shine an important light on airport safety.
Running cards contain the predetermined assignments of fire companies based on proximity, street patterns, road obstructions, and other factors that might affect the quickest response to an emergency. Regional running cards are used to establish the order of response when one jurisdiction calls on outside departments for help. Massport, the agency that runs Logan, has historically designated the Boston Fire Department as the only outside department to respond to structural fires of up to five alarms at the airport. Under the new running card, Boston’s fire response would end after two alarms.