Mayor Byron W. Brown announced 34 promotions in the Fire Department during ceremonies last week in a downtown firehouse.
Former Battalion Chief John Mogavero was promoted to division chief. Meanwhile, three former captains were named battalion chiefs. They are: Peter Kertzie, Stephen Keohane and Mark Hillery.
During the ceremonies before 150 persons Thursday at Engine 21 on Elmwood Avenue at Virginia Street, 12 individuals were promoted to fire captain, and 18 were named lieutenants.
Brown said the firefighters have been dedicated members of the department, a sentiment that was echoed by Fire Commissioner Michael S. Lombardo.
The promotions are expected to save the city money in the long run, Lombardo told reporters. While the new appointees will make higher salaries, the city will not have to fill the vacant positions by bringing in firefighters on overtime.
The city used a new series of tests for its promotions process. City officials said they believe the assessments more accurately gauge the skills of prospective appointees.
There is only one African-American and one female among the 34 promotions, but the mayor said he anticipates more minorities being promoted in subsequent years. Brown said he believes the testing procedures used to make the promotions would withstand any scrutiny.
The city also plans to hire at least 35 new firefighters next year. Applicants have already taken exams and will be undergoing more tests in the coming months.
Fire officials have long complained that the department is understaffed, adding that a manpower shortage has been a key reason why overtime has skyrocketed. The city must comply with minimum manpower levels, a requirement that drives up overtime in a department that has seen its uniformed payroll shrink by about 200 over the past eight years.