Boston firefighters endorse Essaibi George for Mayor

Leaders from the Boston Firefighters Union Local 718 joined Councillor Annissa Essaibi George outside Florian Hall during an endorsement announcement on Monday, May 24, 2021. Rebeca Pereira photo

City Councillor Annissa Essaibi George secured an endorsement from Boston firefighters on Monday, promising in a statement that “fire-fighters will be heard and celebrated” in a Essaibi George administration.

The current at-large councillor, who lives in Dorchester, has also received endorsements from former Boston Police Commissioner Bill Gross and from the Massachusetts Nurses Association.

John Soares, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 718, joined other union leaders at Florian Hall to announce the endorsement, the second George has collected from the first-responder community during her campaign.

“Since her early days on the Boston City Council, she has demonstrated her unwavering commitment and support for Boston’s first responders,” Soares said. “We do not take this mayoral race lightly. We know from experience the significance of having a mayor who is not only understanding of the importance of public safety but respects those who are tasked with that duty.”

Essaibi George, in turn, promised to modernize fire stations and fire-fighting equipment “to ensure that [firefighters] are able to show up, do their job, protect life and respond quickly.” She also underscored plans to expand health care benefits for Boston firefighters, saying “for those who are responding in our time of need, the City needs to make sure we are responding in their time of need.”

The Boston Fire Department has been hit hard by cancer diagnoses in recent years and currently has two 30-year-old members suffering from occupational cancer. George said the City should be responsible for ensuring “[fighters’] physical health and mental health is top-notch.”

Speaking to the need for increased diversity in an overwhelming white and male department, George said the Boston Society of the Vulcans, a non-profit composed of Black and Latinx firefighters, is the first place to start.

“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done within that program to fine tune it and make sure that it works,” said George. “We need to make sure that the kids of Boston see themselves reflected in the firefighting force.”

Boston’s fire service is 94.3 percent male and 95.6 percent white, according to the city of Boston’s personnel records and the department has long faced criticism from within for its lack of diversity and “locker-room” culture.

“I do believe together we can make sure that all of our female firefighters across the district will feel not just welcome in our firehouses but a part of the team,” said George. “If we’re going to look to change anything in the city of Boston, we need to do it together.”

Erin Murphy, a Dorchester woman who is running for at-large council, was also endorsed by Local 718 this week. Murphy, who finished in sixth position in the 2019 municipal election, was the first candidate in the 2021 at-large race to win the union’s support, which came in the form of a unanimous membership vote last week.

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