Skip to main content

Boston fire chief resigns after criticism of bombing response

By Stephanie Gallman and Kristina Sgueglia, CNN
updated 9:37 AM EDT, Tue June 4, 2013
Thirteen out of 14 Boston deputy fire chiefs have signed a letter of
Thirteen out of 14 Boston deputy fire chiefs have signed a letter of "no confidence" in Fire Chief Steve Abraira regarding his handling of the Boston Marathon bombings, a source with knowledge of the situation told CNN Tuesday night, May 14, 2013.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Boston Fire Chief Steve Abraira resigns after deputies sigh letter of no confidence
  • Abraira "failed to ... show any leadership" at Boston Marathon bombings, deputy chiefs say
  • Abraira defended his actions, saying his trusted the command officer on the scene

(CNN) -- Boston Fire Chief Steve Abraira, whose deputy chiefs criticized him over his handling of the Boston Marathon bombings, has submitted his resignation, the Boston Fire Department said Monday on its official Twitter account.

Abraira's resignation is effective Friday.

In an April 26 letter to Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, 13 deputy fire chiefs said they had no confidence in Abraira, asserting that he failed to assume command responsibility or show any leadership at the scene.

"At a time when the city of Boston needed every first responder to take decisive action, Chief Abraira failed to get involved in operational decision-making or show any leadership," the letter read.

CNN obtained the letter from a deputy chief who signed it but requested anonymity.

In the letter, the deputies describe an e-mail that Abraira sent to all department members, saying that when he arrived at the scene, "it was clear that our Command Officer had the incident well in hand and that our department was fully active in a support role with our law enforcement partners."

The deputies call Abraira's argument "illogical" and "mere rationalization to justify his behavior," saying that when Abraira arrived, the Boston Fire Department was "still heavily involved in the incident" because of the possibility of "second explosions," "additional suspicious packages" and "structural stability concern of buildings," among other issues.

Boston fire chief gets vote of 'no confidence' in handling of bombings

But Abraira defended his actions to CNN.

Firefighter: Marathon was like a war zone

"In their estimation, they believe that if you don't assume command, you don't have responsibility there for what goes on," he said. "I tried to explain to them, if I'm on the scene, I'm still responsible. That's it. But they don't believe it."

The chief told The Boston Globe that he was comfortable with the way his commanders were handling the incident.

"The nationally accepted practice is that you only take command (as chief) if there's something going wrong or if you can strengthen the command position or if it's overwhelming for the incident commander, and none of those things were in fact happening," he told the paper.

Two bombs exploded at the finish line of the marathon on April 15, killing 3 and injuring more than 260 others.

One of two bombing suspects, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, died after a gunfight with authorities four days later. After much secrecy and protest, he was buried in a rural Virginia cemetery.

Police took his brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, into custody on April 19 after finding him hiding in a boat in the backyard of a Watertown, Massachusetts, home.

He has been charged with using a weapon of mass destruction and malicious destruction of property causing death and is in federal custody.

CNN's Ed Payne contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Boston Marathon Bombings
Survivors of three earlier bombings describe their journeys forward — and offer poignant words for those just one year away from the day that changed their lives.
updated 2:15 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
"United, we will always persevere." That was the message Massachusetts shared on the anniversary of twin bombings that turned last year's Boston Marathon from a celebration into a day of horror.
updated 2:47 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
I'm running it to make a simple statement: Acts of cowardice will not stop me from exercising my rights as an athlete and a human.
updated 3:40 PM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Many of those whose lives were shattered are still struggling to put the pieces back together. Here are some of the victims, as well as larger funds, who continue to need your support.
updated 11:22 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
As April 15 approaches, the fact that we tell time in circles brings us to remember the attack on the Boston Marathon one year ago.
updated 10:47 PM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
CNN's Bill Weir talks to Carlos Arredondo about helping those injured immediately after the Boston Marathon bombing.
updated 10:32 AM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
By running in response to the tragedy, we weren't attempting to negate the irreparable harm done to the people of Boston last year. We wanted to do something, anything, to try to process it.
updated 7:24 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
All of our assumptions have turned out to be wrong. Here are four things we've learned since then:
updated 4:17 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been frozen in the public mind by four images.
updated 7:22 PM EDT, Tue April 8, 2014
Adrianne Haslet-Davis' life as a dancer was shattered last year at the Boston Marathon bombings.
updated 7:40 AM EDT, Mon March 24, 2014
A man who lost both legs in the Boston Marathon attack is engaged to the woman he was waiting for at the finish line.
updated 10:21 AM EDT, Wed April 17, 2013
Mistaken identity in the hospital added to her family's grief.
updated 11:38 AM EDT, Wed April 24, 2013
The slain MIT cop "was born to be a police officer."
updated 10:37 PM EDT, Thu April 18, 2013
The graduate student from China followed her passion to Boston.
updated 1:10 AM EDT, Wed April 17, 2013
Almost a year ago, 8-year-old Martin Richard wrote four simple words on a sign at school: No more hurting people.
updated 12:37 PM EDT, Wed July 17, 2013
Mery Daniel couldn't wait for Marathon. It was one of the things the aspiring doctor and Haitian immigrant loved most about living in Boston.
updated 9:09 AM EDT, Thu May 2, 2013
After twin blasts shook Boston -- killing three and wounding more than 260 others -- investigators sprung into action looking for those responsible.
updated 11:05 AM EDT, Sun April 28, 2013
The black Mercedes SUV sped down Spruce Street going about 70 mph, the driver struggling to maintain control. The vehicle had a busted headlight and flat tire.
Click through our galleries of the Boston Marathon bombing, from perspectives on the attack to the suspects, as well as the manhunt and celebrations in Boston after both suspects were found.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT