Boston Fire Chief Threatens to Sue His Deputy Chiefs

Boston Fire Chief Steve E. Abraira has threatened to file suit against the 13 deputy chiefs who criticized him in a letter to Mayor Thomas M. Menino following the Boston Marathon bombing.

The threats were contained in a letter was sent last week by Attorney Louis M. Ciavarra to the deputies. Among the quoted parts of the letter:

  • “Your conduct is nothing more than a transparent effort to hide the inadequacies of your own performance and to interfere with my client’s efforts to improve the Boston Fire Department”
  • The “timing of your letter, and in particular linking it to the tragedy of April 15th, is reprehensible”
  • It “was a misplaced and frankly outrageous attack intended to strengthen your ability to reject and obstruct Chief Abraira’s efforts to bring the BFD in line with modern fire fighting practices.”

Ciavarra’s letter characterized the letter sent by the deputy chiefs to Mayor Menino on April 26, 2013 as defamatory and threatened to file suit “should any further such conduct occur.”

The letter sparked a strong rebuke by the attorney for the deputy chiefs, Joseph G. Donnellan, who today characterized Ciavarra’s letter as an effort to prevent them from testifying at a Boston City Council hearing scheduled for June 18, 2013.

According to Donnellan, “Each and every one of them saw it that way… They saw it as a direct attempt to make sure [the deputy chiefs] don’t go to that hearing and don’t speak their mind.”

Donnellan issued a threat of his own: “Most assuredly, if the chief’s lawyer follows through on his threat to sue the deputy chiefs of the Boston Fire Department, we will react very strongly and very swiftly.”

More on the story.

Note: If any of my friends from Boston can supply a copy of the letters, I’d be much obliged.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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