An outsider brings new ideas to Baltimore's fire department [Letter]

January 05, 2014

As a former fire chief, I can say the Baltimore City Fire Department will be much better off if the right person is hired to lead it, regardless of whether he comes from inside or outside of the department ("Rawlings-Blake picks former Nebraska fire chief to lead Baltimore's department," Dec. 29).

Unfortunately, fire departments are like educational institutions; they're took often in-bred and stuck in place.

An insider can only do what he or she has been taught to do by past administrations, and that's not always good. That kind of thinking is a reason we lost nine firefighters in Charleston, S.C., in 2007.

Outsiders tend to bring in new thinking and ideas, but that can be a problem too if the current firefighters fight any change to the last straw.

In private industry, most of the time outsiders are hired so they can bring in new ideas, technology and direction. That's what makes an organization good. If you took some of your "insiders" that you think would make a good chief, they would do a much better job in another department than they would in their own department.

If an officer has prepared himself well, gone to college, received his master's degree or higher, he should be able to land a job. There are dozens of jobs for fire chiefs posted every month.

Just because you're from the inside, doesn't mean you'll do well. More probably it just means "same Ole, same Ole."

There are always exceptions to every rule of course, but if Baltimore's new chief, Niles Ford, does a good job and the firefighters support him, in the end the department will be much better off.

Charlie Perez

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