Bill Walczak calls for closing Boston firehouses

Bill Walczak said as mayor of Boston he would look into cuts to the Fire Department’s staffing.
Bill Greene/Globe Staff/File 2013
Bill Walczak said as mayor of Boston he would look into cuts to the Fire Department’s staffing.

Bill Walczak said that if elected mayor, he would push for reforms at the Boston Fire Department and work to reduce firehouses and staffing.

His administration would also investigate whether the department should be further in line with national operating standards, he said Tuesday.

Walczak is hoping his tough talk on the Fire Department will bolster his contention that he is the only candidate bold enough to go against the grain for the betterment of the city. He made headlines when he became the only candidate to reject a casino in Boston.


Outlining his stance in a position paper that praised firefighters for their perilous task, Walczak singled out the department’s response to the Boston Marathon bombings.

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But he also criticized what he described as resistance in the department to change, which he contends has stymied opportunities to make improvements, even ones that boost firefighter safety.

Walczak said he would launch a panel to study such things as training on the force, equipment, and whether management should be part of the same union as the rest of uniformed staff. He pledged to examine if the department should be integrated with Emergency Medical Services. “The move to modernize the Fire Department is not a move to negate the proud history’’ of the department, Walczak wrote. “I have deep respect for the [Fire Department] and its history. I am motivated by a desire to ensure the safety of its members and the residents of Boston, and to have the best Boston Fire Department possible.”

The Globe reported recently that 60 percent of the department’s calls were medical- or service-related, and just 8 percent were fires, according to department figures. The Globe reported that at least four firehouses saw little activity, while many others were busy.

Other mayoral candidates, including John Barros, a former School Committee member, and state Representative Martin J. Walsh, said that as mayor they would also review each city department, including the Fire Department.


But Walsh, the only candidate endorsed by the powerful Boston Firefighters Union Local 718, said he would be very reluctant to shut firehouses or slash personnel.

“I think it’s a very dangerous position,” Walsh said. “I’d need a very strong case about why I would close firehouses in the City of Boston. As far as public safety goes, that is something I do not want to do.”

Barros said maintaining a responsive and well-staffed Fire Department is personal to him because he grew up in areas of Boston once plagued by “arson for profit” schemes. “That is why I support the hiring of an independent panel to assess the needs of the city and what kind of Fire Department we need to best respond to our needs,’’ he added.



First TV ad from Barros set to hit airwaves today

John Barros is jumping into the TV fray.


A 30-second ad titled “The Difference” is set to begin airing Wednesday, which is also Barros’s 40th birthday, and run through the preliminary election.

In the video, Barros touts his accomplishments and his aspirations for Boston. Quotes from local media organizations are used to underscore what Barros says about the need for a reformed education system, permanent affordable housing, and safer neighborhoods.

“The difference between myself and other candidates is that I have been doing all of this throughout my career,” the former head of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative says at the end of the spot.

This is Barros’s first commercial. While his opponents debuted television ads, his campaign had previously focused its video efforts online, saying it was the best way to reach voters.

And reaching voters in Boston, and not in Lowell or Belmont, is paramount, said Matt Patton, Barros’s campaign manager. That is why Barros — unlike some of his competitors, whose spots air on channels covering all of southern New England — will run his ad only in Boston on channels distributed by Comcast.



Conley ads promote his plan to train students, create jobs

Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley launched another barrage of television advertisements Tuesday in his bid for mayor, touting what his campaign has described as a comprehensive jobs plan.

Conley began airing four new 15-second spots highlighting elements of the plan: building state-of-the-art technical high schools, creating an innovation fund to help start-up companies, and expanding an ordinance requiring that construction jobs go to Boston residents.

“All the candidates talk about jobs,” an announcer says over upbeat music driven by cellos. “The difference? Dan Conley has a ‘Better Jobs Now Plan.’ It creates jobs and real opportunity for all of Boston.”

The short spots will run in concert with a 60-second biographical ad on network-affiliated stations and on cable channels. Conley began the campaign with twice as much money as any other candidate and is making use of his financial advantage as the race enters the final stretch to the Sept. 24 preliminary election.

Conley bought at least $141,000 worth of television time this week on two network affiliates, according to documents filed with the Federal Communications Commission. Records with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance show that through the end of August, Conley had spent at least $270,000 on media.

The campaign declined to discuss the spending or confirm dollar figures. Conley was one of the first candidates to release a television ad, starting his blitz in July. The campaign has aired 10 distinct spots, including the four new segments on jobs.

“Dan has a jobs plans for Boston that isn’t just scribbled on the back top of cocktail napkins,” said Conley’s spokesman, Michael Sherry. “It’s a real, thoughtful, in-depth plan.”