CUTTING THE GORDIAN KNOT OF POLITICS IN FIRE DEPARTMENTS

CUTTING THE GORDIAN KNOT OF POLITICS IN FIRE DEPARTMENTS

Second Vice-President Boyd Suggests How This Can Be Done—Evils of Interference in Fire Department Matters by Politicians

IN the following article Chief Boyd suggests one of the uses to which the proposed Chief’s Cabinet can be put, namely, to guard the fire department from the interference of designing politicians:

We are told that Gordius, an ancient King of Phrygia, tied a hard knot about the yoke of his chariot: that the man who loosed it, according to an oracle, was to rule Asia. This was accomplished by Alexander the Great, who, averting the ill omen of his inability to loosen it, cut the knot in two with his sword. Now, as to the truthfulness of this bit of classic mythology, I have my doubts, though I am committed to it as a parallel to what I wish to say.

Is there anyone who doubts that Gordius, now spelled Politicianius lives today, not one, but many, in every city of these United States? Who doubts that he has tied the knot to the yoke of public service institutions? Who doubts that he has hamstrung the efficiency of many of our municipal institutions, for example fire departments.

Unquestionably there is an unanimity of opinion among the fire chiefs on this subject, asserting itself through the advocacy by many for a fire chief’s cabinet, to act as Alexander the Great. In this connection, however, I do not wish to be understood as being opposed to government control, but only to that interference from said source which has as its single objective the perpetuation of party in power or individual office.

Quoting from the address of Fire Chief Johnson of Waltham, Mass., delivered before the New England Association of Fire Chiefs, during its meeting in June of this summer: “a fire chief can be a political fire chief or he can be a people’s fire chief, but the kind of a bed he makes for himself he should be content to lie on,” which, when coupled with editorial comments and recommendations relative to this question by the National Fire Protection Association, incline me to the opinion that what we need in our organizations is more courage to preach our thoughts; that when made a real live issue, a way to loosen the knot will be found, possibly through the Fire Chiefs’ Cabinet or by the quickening of public interest from non-political sources.

What I have said on this much discussed topic comes to me at the end of twenty-four years of not unusual experiences as fire chief.

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