Jon Fosher, 23, of Manchester, looks like a movie director's vision of a firefighter, which he should, as his father and grandfather were firefighters. He wants to be one, too. He has completed all the training and passed all of the physical tests. He even has an associate degree in fire science. But because of a car accident when he was 16, hiring him is against the rules.
As our reporter Mark Hayward has chronicled in two very good stories, after the accident, Fosher had three vertebrae fused and a rod placed in his back. Under the national standards to which Manchester adheres, no one with a rod or more than two fused vertebrae can become a city firefigther. But Fosher's physician says he can do the job. The city fire chief wants to hire him. And last week the aldermen's Human Resources Committee voted, 3-2, in favor of hiring the young man. But there are those standards ....
Should Fosher be hired? Other applicants have been refused the job for the same disqualification. Fosher, who has connections, should not get the job because of whom he knows. If the standards are too stringent and are keeping good firefighters off the job, they should be revised. But having aldermen approve overriding the rules to hire the son of a city firefighter would confirm the stereotype that Manchester is a city where your connections matter more than your qualifications.