O'Toole to Lead Review of Boston Fire Department

By Mark Sullivan
Staff Writer

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has tapped Alumni Association Executive Director Kathleen O'Toole to head a special commission examining allegations of racial and gender discrimination in the Boston Fire Department.

Menino appointed the five-member commission last week after a series in The Boston Globe reported allegations of bias and operational mismanagement in the Boston Fire Department.

The mayor has asked the panel to examine the bias complaints as well as departmental recruiting practices, the staffing of fire units across the city, and the high rate of on-the-job injuries. The commission, which will have a staff, will produce a report and oversee any recommended changes.

"We need to have public service organizations that reflect the public they serve," said O'Toole, a former Massachusetts secretary of Public Safety who also serves on a special panel recommending reforms to the police force in Northern Ireland. "As a city resident, I sleep well knowing we have a very committed and well-trained fire department. These are strictly management issues that are being addressed."

"I am delighted we have someone with Kathleen's experience to spearhead this commission," said Menino. "Kathleen comes to us with a proven record of credibility and a high degree of respect from her peers. I am confident that she will demonstrate her leadership abilities in any decision-making process."

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