letters | Fighting over firefighters

Keep an eye on Mayor Walsh’s appointees

RE “FIRE Dept. oversight is first test of Walsh’s independence” (Editorial, Feb. 6): To the extent change is needed in the Boston Fire Department — change that would be unpopular among firefighters — it is not likely to be accomplished by commanders who belong to the same union as line firefighters. The Globe makes a strong case for civilian leadership, which is particularly essential if change is needed in the department’s culture. When a culture is strong, long-standing, and pervasive in an organization, change is tough. To have any chance of success, change must be championed from the top and sustained against strong resistance, perhaps for years.

Such change can be highly selective. We can see the dedication that propels firefighters out the door into burning buildings to save lives and property. No change needed there. But if some work practices need to change, target those. If Mayor Marty Walsh does sit at the table in the upcoming negotiations with the firefighters union, he can start that change. His new appointments will confirm it, or not.

Don Carlson


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