FIRE DEPARTMENT: CRITICALLY EVALUATE THE ROLE OF THE BOARD OF FIRE COMMISSIONERS

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FIRE DEPARTMENT:
CRITICALLY EVALUATE THE ROLE OF THE BOARD OF FIRE COMMISSIONERS

 

Problem Identification:
The Board of Fire Commissioners, a three-member advisory board appointed by and serving at the pleasure of the Mayor, plays a very limited role in Fire Department operations, yet its members receive a yearly stipend for service.

Recommended Action:
Require the Board of Fire Commissioners to play a more objective, critical role in providing direction to the Department, or should not receive any stipend for service.

Classification:
Cost Savings, Organizational

Functional/Operational Area:
Board of Fire Commissioners

Estimated Annual Impact:
$12,000

Estimated Implementation Costs:
None

Barriers to Implementation:
None

Projected Implementation:
Immediate

Next Steps:
The Fire Chief, in conjunction with the Mayor’s Office, must critically evaluate the future role of the Board of Fire Commissioners. If the decision is made to continue operating the Board as an advisory group with limited tangible impact or influence on Departmental policies and practices, the yearly stipend to Board members should be phased out or eliminated.

Analysis:
Prior to a mid-1990s change in the City Charter, the Board of Fire Commissioners was the official legal head of the Baltimore City Fire Department. The Board’s official powers have since been transferred to the Fire Chief and its role in the overall governance of the Department has been minimized. The project team feels that a strong and active Board of Fire Commissioners could be a tremendously valuable asset to the Fire Chief. If, however, the Board’s role as a limited advisory group remains unchanged, the annual $12,000 stipend divided between its three members should be phased out or eliminated.