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DC firefighter who was seriously burned last year publicly disputes Chief Kenneth Ellerbe over logo order. Lt. Robert Alvarado: 'All we are asking is to be is dealt with fairly'.

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Coverage of fire last April where Lt. Alvarado and other firefighters were burned

Previous coverage of this story

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From Paul Wagner at WTTG-TV:

Lt. Robert Alvarado has spent 11 years responding to emergencies and fires in the District of Columbia. Just last April, he was severely burned with three others while searching a burning house in Northeast. The lieutenant says he loves his job, but he has a problem with the chief.

"All we are asking is to be is dealt with fairly," said Lt. Alvarado. "If you want us to wear a certain item of clothing, issue it to us and we will gladly wear it instead of expecting us to come out of pocket to meet his agenda. We are sworn order takers, but make it fair and give us the tools to do that.”

On Tuesday night on FOX 5 News, Ellerbe had this exchange with anchor Laura Evans.

Evans: "It is expensive though, we have to say, winter wear is expensive to buy, if you are talking about buying a whole new set of uniforms."

Ellerbe: "They don't have to buy a whole new set of uniforms. We supply over $5,000 in outerwear and equipment for our employees. What they are talking about is purchasing sweatshirts and t-shirts that have the “DCFDEMS” on it. They are not talking about the outerwear that we provide.”

"We do get $5,000 worth of gear, but the majority of that is spent on structural firefighting gear that we use to go into burning building,” said Lt. Alvarado. “It’s a complete outright lie that we are issued outerwear. We are not issued outerwear.” 

Do you want to sell a rig?Click HERE to find out how with

Lt. Robert "Cadillac" Alvarado in a special message from the Medstar Burn Unit at the Washington Hospital Center last April.


Comments - Add Yours

  • Anonymous

    I once wanted to be a DC Fireman, hearing all of the problems and seeing this clown politician run his yap and tell lies, it makes the clown politician running my FD not seem so bad.
    I may not go to as many fires, or have the prestige of DCFD (or DCFEMS) but I would rather stay hear and deal with our problems than deal with the crap going on in DC….

    • Internet

      That's why all the young new hires are leaving and going back to where they came from.

  • DC F EMS

    LRB is definitely lying and has been… this is a vindictive move. His attempt to take control of something within the DCFD is shameful as he really does not know anything else to do. He obviously can't manage a fireground or even his personal finances. Anyone supporting this guy is very dellusional.

  • watching from N.O.

    It seems like a joke to him.  Look how arrogant and cocky he is sitting there and in his response. 
    Stay strong brothers

  • pipeman

    All ee are issued are work uniforms and firefighting turnout gear, thus snake is outright lying to everyone. The sad thing is most citizens will believe him just because he said it on the news. I’m with you Loo, I think also that we should continue wearing our dcfd outerwear, he can’t suspend all of us. Strength in numbers. FLRB.

  • the ear

    To Lieutenant Alvarado you are the "man" as far as I am concerned. You have spoken the truth and are to be commended for it.
    This so called chief could care less about his people.He has his own personal agenda as fire chief and his hell bent on destroying a class organization. His day is coming and alot faster than he thinks.
    From all of us in other fire departments we are behind you LT and the rest of our brothers in DCFD.
    Be safe

  • Jimmy

    I wonder how long it will take for a new transfer lsit to come out with Cadillac's name on it? I'm guessing it will be out by the weekend. Ellerbee is a racist coward. One can only hope someone steps in and relieves this clown of his duties. Mendelson is always running his mouth and he's so bad, why doesn't he step in and send this idiot packing.

  • Jim

    if the point is to bring the department together isn't it unfair that the fire side only gets one letter, while the ems side gets 3 letters.


    Someone from council, the media, or the citizenry should ask him point blank how much his project to leave his mark on the department is costing the city in the current financial condition.  Then they can watch him dance trying to explain the benefit of his power trip.

  • DCFD Fireman

    DCFD will stand long after this joker calling himself a fire chief is gone.

  • Bob Bob

    Lt Alvarado, You, and officers like yourself, are the reason Honor, Courage, Dedication, and Tradition will never be bullied out of our great department! Thank you for doing what you do, the way you do it……….Sincearly, The Junior members of the DCFD!!!!!!!

  • Cadillac Fan!


  • RJ in florida

    if he gets diciplined, he's right…if the chief leaves him alone (fat chance on that happening) he's wrong…all this because the chief got caught double dipping while he was in sarasota…what a waste of public money. long live DCFD

  • fyrecapt


  • ukfbbuff

    My 2 cents from California.
    What is it  with Kenneth Ellerbee and Uniforms? First it was the Official DCFD Pajamas and I belive Gym Wear and Now this.
     With All of the Daily and "Special" issues that occur on a regular basis, Why this and the Backwards Change in Work Schedules to depress Morale? (By the way DCFD isn't the only one that has "Out of City" residents. Some Ca.FF's live in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon and commute to work).
    At any rate  (this may be harsh) dare I say that Mr. Ellerbee is starting to look More like;
    Former Chief,  Rusty Thomas of Charleston, S.C. , with his "Do As I Say Attitude". What ever happened to "Meet and Confer"?
    Stay strong DCFD FF's.

  • Joel

    Why doesn't the department and union have a vote of "no confidence" in this clown and present it to the city council?

  • UsetobeDC

    It appears that Ellerbe is a racist and dislikes the whites in the DCFD.  He believes it is only they who take pride in DCFD and if it's changed they will quit.
    He also believes that if he changes the work schedule away from 24's to make it more inconvenient to drive into DC then those same workers will quit.
    He fails to see that it is not only the white guys who take pride in DCFD and can't afford to live in DC or want their kids to go to better schools. And therefore live farther away.
    What he also fails to realize is that the guys he is targeting have pride for the job irrespective of the name or the work schedule.  And they will do what they have always done.  Adapt and persevere.
    Hopefully the phone calls to the mayor and city council will increase and the pressure to relieve this sanctimoneous asshole of his position will grow too loud to ignore.  I would encourage all the members of the DCFD to learn the phone numbers and give them out readily.
    Good luck and know that there will be brighter days ahead.  Hopefully very soon.

  • Tom

    Yes I know the fire politics and in my career 3 Chiefs.I am a retired Capt./EMT from Ca…LT stick to your guns,just from watching you and your Chief and reading the article you have made a politically correct Statement.Carry on LT.

  • Son of passed DC Firefighter

    I am sure that my father and the rest of the brotherhood that looks down upon us and protects us each and every day, are turning over at the debacle that this so called chief is causing.  This man is on a serious power struggle and will do anything to win and control those whom he is supposed to lead.  He should have stayed down south where he was instead of trying to destroy the institution and the moral of the best firefighters in the nation. 
    How long do you think he would last in NY or CA if he tried to make the same move??  This is just one of the many bonehead attempts that this man has made to make those that he thinks are beneath him, to bow before him.  Et tu Brutus?
    The DCFD brotherhood is strength, honor and integerity.  I grew up living with it in my home and I am proud to say that my father, like many others, gave their all so that the many others could continue in life.
    Long live the DCFD and let know man attempt to disgrace the family name. 

  • 95%er

    kinda gives you a warm fuzzy feeling now thinking of the good old days of Ronnie Few and Dennis Rubin, now doesn't it?
    can ya believe that this nutcase actually makes them look good.

    • mark

      Exactly what I was thinking 95, bet the brothers in DC never thought someone would make Rubin look like a competent chief.
      As I said in the other story, I just don't get why the Council is not asking any questions like they did with Rube. Does this guy have something on all of them?

  • fyrecapt

    ukfbbuff: Not everyone has "meet and confer" in their contracts…  There are some depts that make the rules and send it down the line whether the rank & file like it or not.

  • DCFDmember

    "Joel says

    Why doesn't the department and union have a vote of "no confidence" in this clown and present it to the city council?"
    A vote of no confidence doesn't carry any weight these days.  Years ago doing that was looked upon differently, but doing that today is simply symbolic and won't bring about any change.  


  • Doing it

    Good work Cadillac. You earned a spot on the bad boy club hall of fame list. The men are damned proud of you.

  • United We Stand

    Washington DC wants to be the 51st state what a joke…. Look at the Corrupt Mayor, City Council and Appointed Department Heads, Mayor Gray's appointees. Before it can be a state it needs to clean house and have honest and distinguished leadership. Ellerbe has done nothing but destroy the department, he was a disgruntled member when he left and now his direction is to destroy this great department. Not only is he hurting the dedication and morale of the members he is dividing the department, by race. What was wrong with the patch/door seal that had the maltese cross and eagle with "Fire & EMS Department and why destroy the traditional "DCFD". Lets fix things that need fixing such as reserve apparatus, station rehabs and repairs, firefighter safety, training, recertification, fire hydrants, community outreach and now the "Morale".
    There are other "personnel issues" that will not be aired by me, but it will take its course, it already has, but everyone is so concerned about the small things, including Ellerbe. The next department leader will have a mess to clean up, lets hope that will be soon. The union needs to have an emergency meeting before the next monthly meeting and take a vote of "NO CONFIDENCE" for the Mayor and Chief. March on the District Building, 441 4th Street, NW and Vermont Avenue, NW and during rush hours the busy traffic routes in and out of the city.
    To all you great members you need to take a stand, don't leave you have carried on the traditional "DCFD" pride and it shows. There are so many great officers and firefighters on the job and thats because of the great men/women before us, we need to keep the pride and tradition of this great department alive. If every member made one call to an elected official your word will be heard loud and clear, have family and freinds call also. Keep your heads up, take care of each other as you do now and this will all be a "bad dream".  Your, "Brother"

    • BC 201

      Cuba has a better shot at being the 51st State then the District.

  • Anonymous

    This isn't about money. The monies paid for t-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, etc. is tax deductible.

    • E McG

      That is incorrect. Job related expenses are ONLY tax deductible if they total 2% or more of an individuals overall income. So, if a DC firefighter making 60K a year has a wife making a similar amount, they need to get above $2,400 before they can claim the deduction. Union dues are $900, new shoes $75, flashlight, hand tools, etc $100. That is a lot of sweatshirts to get to $2,400. If the wife is also a union employee, or if either one is taking college classes related to their career, sure they get the deduction, but by no means is the purchase of a sweatshirt or winter coat  a guaranteed tax write-off.

    • Marty

      E McG is correct, unless you itemize or can write off a certain amount you take the standard deduction. 
      This is a weak-ass hinge point or argument for compliance with these mandates.
      It is about money, MY money.  I don't have enough of it as it is.  Of course, Anonymous, you could always help 'subsidize' and help me foot the bill..

  • DCFD Tech.

    Cadillac…way to go! You spoke volumes for us all.
    LRB…just one more example of why you never got the top spot under 2 mayors or promoted under Few, Thompson, or Rubin. Any "action" involving a certain Lt. at this point would be an obvious attack based on vendictivness that I would gladly pass on to the same media that gave him the chance to speak out.
    Keep barking your orders. Keep coming up with new policies that have no bearing on what we're here for. Keep looking at yourself in the mirror and believing you've done some good. You won't be here for ever. Whether your here or not, WE will always be the District of Columbia Fire Departmant. YOU will always be an outsider to us.

  • Anonymous

    Actually, Slappy's the man. He gets to drive a Cadillac!

  • Anonymous

    Lt Alvarado words cannot express just how Proud and put in an Honorable category as being a True Professional. Your ability to speak the Truth and stand up for what is already known as the Hostile work environment created by Ellerbee. (I cannot use the term Chief with this name). Ellerbee you have expressed yourself to saving a Dollar to the Mayor and Council. They are just as ignorant to the operations/costs to sustain a Top Level Fire and EMS Dept. It is a 24 Hour day to day Operational needs organization. As has been commented Ellerbee has no concept as to being a real (Fire Chief). Last night you spoke with no real Truth and understanding. It will be interesting when you are asked how is/can the DC Fire and EMS Dept. function at a level second to none, when DC Fire and EMS has already lost 30 Paramedics. The only real people who will suffer and  realize what is really occurring are the citizens. The Response time will undoubtedly be increased. EMS units responding from a greater distance across the city. This is the same situation that occurred when Mr. Rausenbaum was fatally assaulted. EMS vehicle coming out of Providence Hospital to 38th & Gramercy Streets NW. A failure to properly assess the injuries both on the scene and at HUH. Why did the EMS unit Transport all the way to HUH? GW Univ. Hospital is a Trauma Center much closer. Obviously as is the case every day, the call load for DC Fire and EMS is overwhelming. This entire situation would never have happened if good judgement had been exercised. Lt. Alvarado you spoke up not only on behalf of your Brothers and Sisters in DC Fire and EMS but also for the citizens of the District of Columbia. How and why Ellerbee could show his face on public forum like TV with his comments about Chief Rubin's Law Suit is beyond any reasonable Human Being comprehension. Ellerbee's followers/Tattletales who so freely commented "you Whiteys you Honkys in support of Ellerbee. How disgusting. Lt. Alvarado sacrificed his Life as did his crew and other DC Fire and EMS on previous working fires.  Ellerbee you and your puppett followers and the Mayor and City Council are all a bunch of stupid no nothing/do nothing with total ignorance.  Lt. Alvarado your Heroic Atttitude and Professional Mentality speak Volumes as to what,who, the DC Fire and EMS Dept. stands for. "VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE". Ellerbee-Followers, Mayor and Council.
    Lt. Alvarado I Salute You.
    Everyone Have a Nice Day

  • Waiting for the Shoe to Drop

    I hope Local 36 will pay for his EZ pass to get back and forth across the bridge everyday when he gets placed on day work !! Well done Cadillac

  • Sharppointy1

    DCFD members – please know that regular folks like me way out in the west USA are rooting for you. I hope you won’t have to suffer too long under LRB; my hope is his higher ups recognize what a fool and an embarrassment he is and yank him out.
    In the meantime, I’m praying all of you stay safe, and stay strong. Keep up your traditional good work and know you have the support of the rest of the country.

  • Anonymous

    He's not dividing the department by race. He's trying, but its not working!! The majority of the DCFD realizes that he is a  clown and want no part of his agenda!! Also its about money to me!!! I don't care if its tax deductable or not, Im not spending anymore money on outer wear!! I have bills to pay!!! Im wearing my DCFD Coat, sweatshirts, and hats!! Until they issue the femsl clothing , I won't wear anything different!!! I had on my DCFD outer wear the other day at work, and i'll be wearing all winter long!!! He has support of maybe a few, but don't believe the hype, the department is united against him!!! All races!!!

  • DS

    Mr. Ellerbee (I refuse to address you as Chief, you haven’t earned that right),
    You are learning the difference between firefighters and those that work for the fire department.  Firefighters do the job for the love of the job, for the challenge, for the satisfaction, for each other, and most of all for the PRIDE!!!  The pride of being a firefighter and belonging to a great department.  When you start taking away the job, the satisfaction, try to drive a wedge between each other all they have left is pride.  Now you’re trying to take that from them and this is why you have the push back you have. Those that work for the fire department will not challenge you on this or any issue just as long as the paycheck keeps coming.  Your arrogance towards the DCFD firefighters becomes more and more highlighted each time you do a public interview.  You are slowly tearing the fabric that is the DCFD thread by thread. So enjoy your tenure here, I have a feeling that you’re well on your way writing your own legacy as a Tyrant and a Fascist not a Chief   

  • Anonymous

    It isn't about money. When Rubin changed the patch we had not gotten a raise, yet we went out bought hats, t-shirts, sweatshirts, etc. 
    As for itemizing….I'm sure no one here "fudges" on their taxes.

    • DCFDmember

      When Rubin changed the patch you were still allowed to wear the 'old' patch.  Thus, those who purchased new items did so because they could afford them, and they only purchased a few items.  There were still many wearing items with the old patch.  Because of having such a short phase in period where you could still wear the 'former' patch, the current rule makes you have to go out and replace all of your items.  
      As for itemizing, you better have some sort of receipt in case you get audited.  Trying to 'fudge' a large expense without documentation will not go over well if the IRS audits you.

      • Anonymous

        The members knew back in Feb-March that the patch/name change was being implemented by the first of the new year.
        As for itemizing, if you're stupid enough to "fudge" a large expense without proof then you get what you get.
        T-shirts, sweatshirts, etc. wear out over time and it's expected that they will need to be replaced.   

  • anonymous

    I am a black firefighter in dc fire and ems department and I want to say that this department has always been divided by race. Reading some comments makes me laugh because where were my so called  brothers when 95% of the diciplianary action was against black firefighters such as my self by some of the same officers that are being praised. DC Local 36 has not represented black firefighters regardless of who was the president. The only reason most of the people are complaining is because all of the nepotism, cronyism and favortism is gone.Rubin, Schultz and Lee lead by intimidation it is amazing how anyone can say that they did a good job when there are more lawsuits against the department than ever during there tenure. Furthermore, I don't want to change schedules but neither do I want to be brought up on false charges because someone is related to Deputy or Battalion Chief. This department is not unified it has always been black, white and ems and anyone saying different is lying to them self and the public. Chief Ellerbe has changed the department to a fair department and it doesn't sit well with white firefighters.

    • Anonymous

      Sorry but you are crazy most of the charges to the black firefighter were assault, drugs, AWOL ,shooting a hand cannon at someone repoing your car so dont give me that stuff about poor us. And I am not by any means saying all black fireman are thugs I work with black guys on my crew and trust those dudes with my life and they feel the same. And for you to sit here and say LRB is not racist is a bold faced lie or you need to up the Haldol and come back to realitey 

    • Welcome to our world

      well spoken its a black and a white department.Its no secret that blacks FF’S view the job different than the whites.Its always been divided,just ask the old timers they”ll tell you.

  • WestCoast

    Stay strong boys! LONG LIVE DCFD! Keep up the good fight

  • Anonymous

    …and today a DC Councilmember is charged with stealing $350,000.

  • Titanic

    For all the talk of this department being "divided" and moral being crushed, I have noticed that the fems apointee has been able to unify the troops. Everyone is unified in their hatred for him and his personal, political agenda.

  • Anonymous

    Yo race card. Don't play it if you can't back it up. Don't wont to be brought up on false charges? Then get off your a@@ and do something about it besides running your lips here. A fair department? Maybe fairy-tail. LRB is living in a fantasy world. Between spending monies to put pictures of his ugly mug in stations to ordering fire photos, found in every fire station across this country removed, to this latest debacle, this so-called "leader" needs a check-up from the neck up.
    The latest "act" that I've heard is that this so called "Chief" did a "station visit" threw down some trash in front of the crew and told one of the crew "Boy, pick that up."  Didn't go over well as the station Lt. told the FF 'You pick that up and I'll write you up on charges".
    Now if the story is true those parties involved need to step up to the plate and knock this clown out of the park.
    Keep the faith.

  • Anonymous

    It's like this. If you come to work, learn your job,carry your weight, and work when everybody else is working, you will gain the respect of the people on the job. Back , white, Latino , whoever. When you come to work, don't know your job, don't learn your job, are lazy, a coward, and duck out on work you're labeled a piece of sh–!! Black, white , Latino, whatever. Show me a guy who carries his weight and I'll show you a respected person. Show me the latter, and I gurantee you he's called a price of sh–!! That goes for everybody no matter the race. Oh yeah and I'm black, and I have time on the job .

    • DCFDmember

      Very well said, and very true.

  • Inside looking in

    This gets funnier everyday this goes on. Funny how when Rubin allowed the patch of his administration to be worn, folks went out and spent their own money to buy items with that patch on it. We had no pay raise and nobody demanded the department to buy them any work wear. When polo shirts and shorts were allowed to be worn folks went out and purchased those items on their own. Once again we had no pay raise and nobody demanded the department to but them polo shorts or shorts.

    • me

      Nobody demanded the dept buy them polo shirts and shorts because they weren't mandated and you wouldn't face disciplinary action for not wearing them.
      As for the patch, it should show you how powerful of a morale booster that something as seemingly trivial as a patch can be if guys are willing to spend their own money on it. However, I think guys are tired of the patch merry go round and do not want to waste their money if what they wear will only be obsolete in a year.

  • Anonymous

    I would like to respond to a previous Anonymous comment about African American Firefighters being Disciplined more so than their White counterparts. In reading your comments, you didnot state what,why, when,African American Firefighters were disciplined. OK for the record did your African American Friends do anything in direct/negative intentions against DCFD SOPs?  I would like to ask you when Chief Rubin was here, the top Ranking African American Senior Command Staff couldnot even dispose of an Engine and Ambulance. Chief Rubin was away and didnot know what  had occurred. He couldnot Truthfully acknowledge this before the Councilo. The Driver of the EMS unit that Transported Mr. Rosenbaum was African American. I believe if I recall she had some personal business to attend near HUH. Thew case where the Child passed away after the Paramedic didnot Transport on first call to residence. How can you Honestly state the African American Firefighters were singled out with predjudice?  One question I have foir you, I hiope you can/will speak the absolute Truth. Working alongside White Firefighters would you and any of your African American followers (probably the same ones who support Ellerbee) go inside to search for either a "May Day" call from a White Firefighter and/or a White citizen of the District of Columbia? While my question may appear as absurb it speaks loud as to your statements with similar negative racial overtones. Face the Truth African American Firefighters, Ellerbee tried to double dip with DCFD and Sarasota Florida Fire Dept. What would be your response if the situation was that you or any of the Afican American Firefighters double dipped between two Fire and EMS Depts?  Stop the childish words of were are getting picked on. Grow Up conduct yourselves as Adults/Professionals.
    Thank You

  • Anonymous

    "I would like to ask you when Chief Rubin was here, the top Ranking African American Senior Command Staff couldnot even dispose of an Engine and Ambulance. Chief Rubin was away and didnot know what had occurred. He couldnot Truthfully acknowledge this before the Councilo."
    Rubin was aware of this. He even joked about it in a staff meeting.
    "The Driver of the EMS unit that Transported Mr. Rosenbaum was African American. I believe if I recall she had some personal business to attend near HUH."
    The partner of said driver was the only White member involved in this incident and was the only member who was not disciplined.
    "Thew case where the Child passed away after the Paramedic didnot Transport on first call to residence."
    This case was investigated and the Paramedic was cleared of any wrongdoing.
    "Face the Truth African American Firefighters, Ellerbee tried to double dip with DCFD and Sarasota Florida Fire Dept. What would be your response if the situation was that you or any of the Afican American Firefighters double dipped between two Fire and EMS Depts?" 
     He did not try to "double dip". He took a leave of abscence which not only is legal per the DPM, but was signed off on by the AFC-PP.
    "Stop the childish words of were are getting picked on. Grow Up conduct yourselves as Adults/Professionals."
    It appears that most of the members who have posted here and are bitching about the name change should head this advice. You all look and sound like spoiled children.
    The name change is nothing compared to the proposed change of the work schedule. It would be in everyone's best interest to come together and unite in fighting against the schedule change and not sweat the small stuff like the name change.   

  • Stop Crying

    Chisf Denni Rubin divided this department more than any Chief in history.  Chief Ellerbee will get more done for this department than people think.