Boston Fire Chief Steve E. Abraira resigned today after less than two years on the job, following a clash with his command staff over his management style and handling of the Boston Marathon bombings, officials said.
Abraira had been the first chief in the history of the Boston Fire Department hired from outside of its own union. In recent weeks, Abraira came under attack from his 13 deputy chiefs, all of whom have risen through the department’s ranks.
Deputy Chief John Hasson, the department’s chief of operations, will take over as acting chief of the department, according to spokesman Stephen MacDonald.
The chief, who runs the day-to-day operation of the department, reports directly to Fire Commissioner Roderick Fraser.
In a letter dated June 3, Abraira told Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Fraser that he had been hired to modernize the Boston Fire Department.
“Your selection of me as Chief never had the support of a number of members of the Department who preferred that the Chief be selected from within the ranks of the Department itself,” Abraira said in the letter. “I think it is also fair to say that unfortunately a vocal and aggressive minority of the members of the Department did not support our efforts.”
Abraira wrote that he felt compelled to resign because “the baseless attacks by the Deputy Chiefs, especially their actions of making this a matter of public debate by leaking their letter of April 26th to the press, has made it impossible for me to continue to do my job.”
The deputy chiefs sent a letter to Menino in late April accusing Abraira of failing to show leadership after the bombings because he did not take control of the scene and left it in the hands of law enforcement. The deputy chiefs also alleged that Abraira had acted as a spectator at major fire scenes, instead of taking command, as his predecessors did.
Abraira has told the Globe that he felt his command staff had the Marathon bombings scene under control when he arrived and that, according to national standards, chiefs have the option to take command at scenes but are not required to.
Abraira also rebutted the allegations with a letter from his attorney, threatening to sue the deputy chiefs if they continued what was described as defamatory attacks.
Abraira’s attorney, Louis M. Ciavarra, wrote that the timing of the deputy chief’s letter and linking it to the Marathon bombings was reprehensible.
The letter said the “outrageous attack [was] intended to strengthen [the deputy chiefs’] ability to reject and obstruct Chief Abraira’s efforts to bring the BFD in line with modern fire fighting practices.”
The deputy chiefs responded with their own attorney, Joseph G. Donnellan, who said Abraira was trying to stop the deputy chief from testifying at a City Council hearing scheduled for June 18.
Abraira’s last day on the job is Friday, June 7.