There are currently 26 vacancies for supervisors at the St. Louis Fire Department — 22 slots for captains, 4 for battalion chiefs. If the Fire Department needs these supervisors, Chief Sherman George should fill the jobs. And if he fills the jobs, he should promote the best qualified firefighters from the rosters of men and women who scored best on the Department’s competitive promotions exams.
A federal judge has ruled the test is valid, and that it fairly tests the skills needed to be a captain or battalion chief in the St. Louis Fire Department. The men and women who scored best on those tests should be serving in the jobs and being compensated for their service.
Right now, the Fire Department is halfway up a ladder. Firefighters are filling supervisory roles without competitive testing, formal promotions, or legal compensation for the firefighters who are serving as ad hoc captains and battalion chiefs.
Chief George should make the real promotions — or eliminate the jobs from the Table of Organization as unnecessary to run an effective department. I’ll support either decision, but not further organizational paralysis and bad practice.