Today is the deadline for applications to become the City’s new fire chief. That man or woman will not be coming from another fire department. The rules say that a City fire chief must already be a member of the St. Louis Fire Department and hold at least the rank of battalion chief. A panel of senior City employees will evaluate the applications, and will send Public Safety Director Charles Bryson a list from which to choose.
The next fire chief will have an important and tough job. That chief will lead (a very important concept!) a department of firefighters on whose undoubted competence, dedication, and bravery their fellow residents rely. That chief will also face the task of rebuilding the off-duty morale of a department that has spent too much time over the past several years worrying about administrative details and personalities, and not enough time maintaining and sharpening the skills of all of its members. That chief will have to deal with the hurt feelings and, worse, racial tensions that come out of the
various investigations and lawsuits that years of charges and counter-charges have occasioned. And, finally, that chief will have to work with the Public Safety Director to manage a tight budget.
I want the chief who is best qualified to do those things.