Abraira: Suhm has no respect for the outstanding service you provide

When former Dallas-Fire Rescue chief Steve Abraira was asked to resign by Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm last Friday, everyone at City Hall went into butt-covering mode.

No one knew why he resigned, but everyone seemed to know why. Sound familiar???

On Monday, the local media reported on Chief Abraira's letter to the troops, but posted just small portions of the text.

In a BarkingDogs exclusive, we are posting the complete text of his final letter to the members of the Dallas Fire-Rescue family..

BD comment - After watching public safety fall apart in New Orleans over the past two weeks, we can only hope Chief Abraira's successor is ready to (pardon the pun) fight fire with fire and make sure Dallas Fire-Rescue is fully funded for its mission. And that means being independent of political or micromanagement influences from people who don't know a hose from a straw.


TO THE MEMBERS OF THE DALLAS FIRE-RESCUE DEPARTMENT:

I am sure by now you have all heard that I have resigned my post as your Fire Chief. As you know I have always been very open and forthcoming with information and believe you deserve to know what's occurring in our department. Although you know I've always preferred to speak to you in person, that's not possible in this situation, however I still feel it is important that you know how I feel about you, our department and what has happened regarding my resignation (retirement).

First let me say that it has been a tremendous honor serving you as your Fire Chief. Words cannot express my gratitude for your unqualified support of me as the first "outsider" when I came here from Miami. That support has been unwavering and I truly appreciate it. That type of support made my job as your leader so much easier and gave me the strength to fight every day for you and the Citizens of Dallas. I will be forever in your debt because of it. Our association together in service to citizens of Dallas has been the most rewarding of my career and that is primarily because of you, the outstanding men and women of the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department. You are the best I have ever worked with!

As most of you are aware my relationship with this City Manager has been strained at best for a variety of reason, and that I have not been treated in a way becoming of an "executive" in this city. What has occurred I feel was inevitable once the City Council voted to appoint this Manager permanently. Unfortunately she has little or no respect for the outstanding service that you provide or for me personally. To this day I have not been given a reason why I did not receive a merit increase this year. To tell you the truth the merit pay was irrelevant, it's the lack of appreciation and respect that was shown to the director of the top rated department in the city that is most distressing to me. This is a department that has little if any problems in comparison to other departments in this City. The demand from the City Manager's office of late has been to cut costs with no specifics on where or what to cut.

Given the fact that our departmental budget is approximately ninety three percent salaries (people), to gain any significant savings from our operation we would have to reduce companies or staffing or both. This as you know would be a reduction in service to the citizens as well as a tremendous safety issue for you. I have been unwilling to compromise the protection level provided to the citizens and the safety of our personnel. This I believe is why I was given the ultimatum to resign or be terminated. It is obvious to me that since I was unwilling to recommend significant cuts and take the responsibility for the ramifications of such cuts, the Manager decided to include $400,000.00 in our budget for FY05/06 to perform a "management and efficiency study" of our department.

As I said previously, I felt it was inevitable that I would have to leave because I am confident that such a study would be fashioned in a way to justify significant cuts in the department and that the Fire Chief would be required to implement those recommendations. If those cuts/changes recommended by the consultant in my professional opinion were a reduction in service or jeopardized your safety, I could not in good conscience be a party to it and would have resigned at that time. So you see the dilemma I was faced with.

In closing you can rest assured that I feel I will always be a part of this department. I am now a Dallas Fire-Rescue retiree and am looking forward to having my brick in our walk of honor at the training center. It has been a distinct pleasure and honor to serve with you!

In brotherly love and service,

Steve Abraira, Retired Dallas Fire Chief

By Avi S. Adelman under Dallas City Council , Safe streets