By Joseph Domelowicz Jr.
Mayor Carlo DeMaria’s request of the City Council to petition the state to remove the position of fire chief from Civil Service has been referred to the Council subcommittee on Government Operations, Public Safety and Public Service.
More than two dozen firefighters appeared in the Council chambers Monday night to voice their opposition to the mayor’s request, as did Chief Butler himself.
However, Councilor Anthony DiPierro said after the meeting, he and his colleagues felt it was best to send the matter to subcommittee, where both sides in the debate could be heard properly.
“I know, for me, that I just felt that it was better to send the issue to committee, where we would have a chance to have questions answered before we vote on something like this,” said DiPierro.
Other councilors noted that, according to information they had received from the Mayor’s office, Everett is one of just a handful of municipalities that still has its chief position as part of the civil service process, which requires that prospective chief candidates take and pass a standardized written test.
Mayor DeMaria made a similar request of the Council last year, because as he noted at the time, no members of Everett’s fire department had taken the test in several years and the vagaries of civil service created the possibility that a line firefighter, with no supervisory or management experience who studies and does well on the test could become the top candidate to replace the chief based on his or her rest score.
However, at the time the Council decided it was not worth making a change since there was no plan for Butler to retire, and there would be plenty of opportunity for firefighter lieutenants and captains to take the test.
However, Butler’s decision earlier this year to retire in the current calendar year has given the debate new urgency.
The Everett fire chief position is the only remaining department head position in Everett that is subject to civil service.