Here we have another position of significant responsibility for public safety, that being chief of Baltimore's Fire Department, going to yet another outsider! ("Baltimore fire chief to be named," Dec. 30.) It seems that the citizens of Baltimore have good reason to be concerned! Why is it, that on far too many occasions, when important positions within the city government are to be filled, the administration (and others before it) "go shopping" elsewhere to fill them?

In this case, if I were a senior command officer within that agency, I would be wondering why I had been bypassed for at least being considered for the $165,000-a-year position. There are processes that continue on a never-ending basis within organizations such as the Fire Department, Police Department, and other city agencies; one of those is the development of top executives. It is the duty of every top executive to recognize potential among his/her subordinates and to nourish and develop that potential, with the realization that such subordinates will eventually take over the top positions, quite possibly even that of the executive who is sponsoring and ensuring the development of that potential! Basically, it is the responsibility of each top executive to ensure the identification and development of his or her eventual replacement.

The fact that this mayor, and others before her, continually seek to fill these executive positions from outside of their respective agencies is nothing short of an indictment of those processes that I mentioned, and the executives within those agencies who apparently have failed to make them functional. But, it goes even beyond the indictment of those "failed" executives within those agencies, for this reason: the mayor, too, is part of the process, and apparently she has failed to develop leaders who are capable of developing leaders. The mayor shares equally in the failure of the process, if in fact it has failed. I cannot conceive, that somewhere within the command ranks of the Baltimore Fire Department there does not exist a command officer, who is immediately and obviously more aware of the complexities of fighting fires in Baltimore than this "foreigner" and is similarly more qualified because of that working knowledge.

In hiring this man the mayor has effectively said that there are no potential leaders within the Fire Department, none who have been made ready to step in, none! Is that agency really so hurting for potential executive skills, and if so, one may want to ask the mayor this question: why?

Robert L. DiStefano, Abingdon

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