The most important issue for City residents and businesses is whether or not the Fire Department has the right people doing the right jobs. With one-third of the management jobs of the Fire Department being filled on a temporary basis, no one can be certain that the right people are working. That’s why the Public Safety Director, the President of the Board of Aldermen, and I have all urged the Fire Chief to make formal promotions.
He has not taken the suggestion.
On Tuesday, the requisition for the promotions was set to expire. The chief had not promoted anyone. In fact, he had not interviewed anyone, nor had he requested more time. So, the Public Safety Director asked for and received an extension. And, he has now directed the Fire Chief to make the promotions by the end of the day on September 14th.
Let’s be clear. The Public Safety Director’s order does not tell the Fire Chief who to promote. Rather, it tells him to select his captains and battalion chiefs from a list of eligible, tested firefighters - and to do it right now.
The most important issue for most firefighters - black and white -- is that the most qualified firefighters get the promotions. The City’s Director of Personnel has examined the test on which the promotion list is based - and he said it was valid. A Federal judge has examined the promotions test and, after hearing testimony from everyone involved, he said it was valid, did not discriminate, and legitimately tested the skills, knowledge, and ability needed to be a captain or battalion chief in the St. Louis Fire Department.
There are no excuses left.
The Fire Chief understands the chain of command. I believe he will obey the order. He knows that if he disobeys a direct order, he will face whatever appropriate disciplinary measures his supervisor selects and the Civil Service rules will allow.
I support the Fire Chief and hope he decides to do the right thing. But, it is time to make the promotions and move on.