New Bedford mayor seeks to remove fire chief from public service

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell is looking to change how the city hires its fire department leaders in the future.

Mitchell filed a Home Rule petition with the New Bedford City Council that would remove the positions of fire chief and deputy fire chief from the state civil service system. This system is based on a candidate’s performance on a standardized civil service exam.

“If all you had to do to pick a leader was just see how well they did on a standardized test, then we might as well elect presidents based on their high school SAT scores,” Mitchell said in his weekly segment on WBSM. “That does not make sense.”

Recent developments within the leadership of the fire department led Mitchell to take the step towards reform.

“This obviously follows the issues we had with former interim chief Paul Coderre and the controversy surrounding him,” Mitchell said.

Coderre was fired in January for allegedly lying about work-related injuries. The City also sought to block his retirement.

Mitchell explained that the civil service model dates back to the 19th century “and with good reason,” he said, noting that the idea of ​​testing and assessment for hiring civil service employees has was designed “a system that was built on patronage”.

“We certainly don’t want to go back to that time, but we also know that when it comes to senior management in an organization as large as our fire department, which has over 200 members, you need someone who has leadership skills,” he said. “It’s a bit difficult, I think, to select leaders – not in all cases, but in many cases – based solely on their results on a standardized test. That’s the civil service system in Massachusetts, and that’s why a number of places have moved away from it.

According to a statement from the City of New Bedford, many other cities and towns in Massachusetts have decided to remove their heads and/or deputies from public office, including Lowell, Lawrence and Dartmouth.

New Bedford did the same in 1996 when it removed the chief of police and the deputy chief of the civil service.

“I think we need to do the same now with firefighters,” Mitchell said. “We want to make sure we have the best options available to residents of our city to run these departments. This is what our residents deserve.

If put into effect, the change would not apply to current Fire Chief Scott Kruger or Deputy Fire Chief Brian Medeiros, but would instead begin with their eventual successors.

“Both happen to have done well on the standardized test, but they’re also effective leaders. They’re there despite the civil service exam, not because of it,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said he just wanted to make sure the city had the ability to pick the best person going forward.

“Long term, that could mean a little more flexibility in determining who has the leadership chops to be effective and not just the person who scored the highest,” he said.

Spend the night at a renovated 19th century fire station in Newport

After going through a year of extensive renovations and restorations, this 19th-century firehouse is now available to rent, and it’s safe to say we’re obsessed. Check out the Firehouse Inn’s six-bed, six-bathroom space that features a neat, modern kitchen and plenty of charm that only a historic fire station could provide.

Historic fire station in Newport converted into a luxury home

Do you want to live in a place with a lot of history and a lot of character? Then this beautiful converted fire station in the heart of Newport might be the place for you.

Comments are closed.