Government is a little different than the private sector, or so it seems. The Fire Chief technically works for the City Manager, but when you read the news coverage it seems he openly questions her policies.
Fire Chiefs are civil service and not at-will employees, so I guess there is little you can do about it.
The heads of police and fire are management technically but their selection process and the culture means they are usually advocates for the way things are, and at odds with a Council seeking to reduce manning.
Chief Herman is fiercely dedicated to his craft, but you definitely get the impression he is not on board with the plan to ditch eight captains.
July 1st marks two years without a contract, so the heat is on to either go to arbitration which just kicks the dispute down the road or a compromise settlement where both sides can save face. The demotion of the captains was a bid to force the latter as it gave the city some leverage it wouldn't have in standard arbitration.
The public is tired of their own wages stagnant while taxes go up and I think the Council feels emboldened, but the politics of the fire service is still difficult, so how this ends up is anyone's guess.
One question begged by this article is why wasn't there consensus on a staffing model when Council approved the change ?
Watertown Daily Times | Fire chief, city manager still working on fire captains plan