Firefighting, Legal

Detroit Mayor Wins Fight Over DFD Promotional System

The city of Detroit and the union that represents firefighters have reached a tentative agreement to overhaul the fire department’s 128-year-old promotional system that mayors have tried to overturn for nearly half a century, reports Deadline Detroit.

Since virtually the founding of the department in 1867, firefighters’ promotions have been governed by a strict seniority system in which new firefighters advance through the ranks only as fast as their colleagues with more years of service retire or leave the department.

Merit counts for nothing, and the DFD’s mayoral-appointed commissioners have almost no say in the selection of uniformed officers who run the department’s rigs, stations and districts day-to-day.

Under the agreement, starting next July 1 the mayor’s appointees will have vastly increased powers to make personnel decisions, and the culture of the department is sure to undergo a profound transformation as smart, ambitious firefighters begin to compete for high-ranking positions.

Seniority will account for only 45 percent of the yardstick for advancement in the new DFD; merit –- including work record and education – will make up much of the rest.

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