The Everett City Council briefly discussed a new order that would drop the Fire Chief’s position from Civil Service and allow the city to consider other factors when determining the qualifications for future fire chief candidates and appointees.
The issue will be taken up again at the Council’s next full meeting on June 23, and both Fire Chief David Butler and the fire union’s representative have been invited to the meeting to share their views on the issue.
The order was raised by Mayor Carlo DeMaria’s administration, in response to extremely low interest among Everett firefighters in taking the state civil service department’s Fire Chief’s exam over the last four years.
According to Human Resources Director Robert Dionne, the city has asked the Council to consider the switch because there have been no Everett firefighters registering to take the test in the past four years and the city administration now believes there is a potential that they could end up with little or no choice in selecting a fire chief in the future, if only one firefighter takes and passes the test.
“We could have a situation where a lieutenant or firefighter with only a couple of years of experience takes the test and passes it and is the number one candidate on the list,” said Dionne. “In that situation, that person may be qualified to be chief, but they also may not be. All passing the test would prove is that they are good at taking tests.”
The states risks aside, the Council still wants to hear the perspective of the current chief and from the firefighters union, from which a future chief may emerge.
The City Council and members of the administration, made it clear that a change in this policy, should it happen, would have no effect on Chief Butler’s status.