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Compact case
Published by: Harvard Kennedy School
Published in: 1991

Abstract

This case tells the dramatic story of the most spectacular fire to strike Dayton, Ohio in many years-and the decision of the city''s fire chief not to put it out. This is a decision-forcing case which asks readers to consider the dilemma of Chief Glenn Alexander, who must choose between letting a huge warehouse burn-contrary to standard operating procedures and to public expectations of firefighters-or risk contaminating Dayton ground water with the toxic run-off likely to result from dowsing the flames. This is a classic leadership case designed to force students to infer the options available to Chief Alexander and to come to grips with the costs and benefits, both symbolic and actual, of each.

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Abstract

This case tells the dramatic story of the most spectacular fire to strike Dayton, Ohio in many years-and the decision of the city''s fire chief not to put it out. This is a decision-forcing case which asks readers to consider the dilemma of Chief Glenn Alexander, who must choose between letting a huge warehouse burn-contrary to standard operating procedures and to public expectations of firefighters-or risk contaminating Dayton ground water with the toxic run-off likely to result from dowsing the flames. This is a classic leadership case designed to force students to infer the options available to Chief Alexander and to come to grips with the costs and benefits, both symbolic and actual, of each.

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