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UPDATED: Lt. Robert Alvarado sent home for wearing DCFD coat at training academy. Says department should provide outwear with mandated logo. Calls chief 'hostile'.

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Previous story: Lt. Alvarado questions Chief Ellerbe's leadership over logo issue

Previous story: Lt. Alvarado asks Chief Ellerbe to deal fairly with firefighters

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Commentary from The Secret List on latest DCFD logo issue & proposed demotion of battalion chief over beer in firehouse disciplinary process

UPDATED – Fox5/WTTG TV's interview is below. In addition, reporter Laura Evans has this from both Lt. Robert Alverado and Chief Kenneth Ellerbe:

He believes in this case that he is being singled out. And he says it goes beyond just this, to a bigger issue of a pattern of intimidation and threats from the top down.

“I want to be able to come to work and not have to be afraid of more than dying on the job,” said Alvarado. “To have extra stress added on to an already stressful job by a hostile fire chief.”

When asked for D.C. Fire and EMS to respond to this matter, Chief Ellerbe sent us the following statement:

"This is a personnel matter. The department does not make public comments regarding personnel matters."


A D.C. Fire Lieutenant with a clean record was placed on administrative leave after wearing an overcoat bearing the old department logo.

Lieutenant Robert Alvarado says all he was trying to do Tuesday morning was stay warm.

"It was either take this off and be cold or go home," Alvarado said. "I was sent home."

Alverado was at the Fire Training Academy with three of his men and Truck 13. They were outside practicing for an upcoming certification test but the training ended abruptly when Alvarado claims a deputy chief told him to remove his overcoat because it had the department's previous logo on it.

Last March Chief Kenneth Ellerbe changed the department's logo to include the words Fire and EMS and ordered personnel to only wear gear with the new logo.

Alvarado said he doesn't have another department overcoat.

"I've got a clean disciplinary record," he said. "Been on for 12 years. I'm not a trouble maker."

A Fire Department spokesperson said that D.C. Fire and EMS rules state anyone who doesn't wear clothing with the new logo on the job will be disciplined.

"The members need to be provided the jackets that the department wants them to wear," Alvarado said.

He said neither he nor any of his fellow firefighters have been given new department issued sweatshirts or overcoats. Tuesday morning, it was 29 degrees at the Academy.

"I could wear that which is covered in carcinogens and toxins but I would prefer to only wear that on a fire scene."

Alvarado says he could ultimately be suspended for what he did. A D.C. Fire and EMS spokesperson would not comment on Alvarado's case, but did say the department was in the process of buying new gear for all personnel with the proper logos on them.

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Comments - Add Yours

  • sick&tired

    what a "DICKTATTAR " this Ahole is…..GET HIM OUT NOW!

  • Anonymous

    So I guess in typical DCFD fashion they will get issued winter coats in the spring/summer.  Chief Ellerbe, you are so ignorant to the more pressing issues in your department than what's on your troops clothes.  Nobody who calls 911 gives two cents wether the providers are wearing DCFD, FEMS, Sanitation or whatever.  They only care that a firetruck or ambulance shows up. 
    You are wasting taxpayers time, money and there's and your own resources for petty bs.

  • Brandi

    What then is he supposed to wear his birthday suit? This is crazy. If they have not been issues stuff with the new logo on it yet then why are they giving him a hard time. Makes no sense to me.

  • Eric S.

    Just out of curiosity, what was his crew of 3 wearing that they neither were sent home nor complained about being cold?  I also see that he refused to wear his turn out coat because of carcinogens and toxins, wasn't he attending training though? Does DCFD or FEMS, whichever they are, not wear proper PPE during training?  Granted this Chief is a yahoo, but I honestly think the guys are making it harder on themselves to try to "prove a point", which to no avail I don't think they ever will get the point proven.

    • Stuart

      I agree with you. The issue is getting ridiculous on BOTH sides of the debate. I see both sides, but it seems everyone is taking it too far. We have changed our patch, coats, color of our shirts, and uniforms types. We buy some stuff on our own, and we get our stuff off the allowance. It is sometimes a hassle but it has never ended up in this type of mess. Unfortunately, I believe both sides are going to end up losing….in the department and publically. 

      • Brian

        Stuart what allowence? we dont get a uniform allowence.

    • Brian

      Not all training requires PPE.

    • Anonymous

      It was Drivers need for PPE there.

  • Anonymous

    Eric S., his crew of 5 (including himself, 5 man Truck Co's in the DCFD) were probably wearing their turnout coats which are rather dirty due to the fact we still go to fires on a regular basis and we no longer have gear cleaning on a annual schedule. Also the company was at the training school for drivers training where PPE is not require for such evolutions. The point is the firemen have had enough of being mistreated. Between the threat of a 26% REDUCTION of work force, change in schedule, the intimidation factor of the chief, and the name change the rank and file are fed up. Hopefully the city leaders realize that the fire department is being ran by an incompetent fool and a change is desperately needed.

  • Anonymous

    Who's the dude with the DCFD hoodie in the Boston video taking pics? Think he's getting much flack?

  • retired firefighter

    Sorry, but FEMS still reminds me of a great name for Feminine Hygiene Products.  With the economy in shambles, one wonders how much has been spent on new IDs, badges, patches, logos, repainting of DCFD on buildings, new decals on sides of vehicles, etc.  Maybe someone should have a news expose about that kind of frivilous expense while crews don't have proper cold weather clothing, rigs need repairs or replacement, etc.

  • Legal Beagle

    This Lt. violated the D.C.Fire and E.M.S. Order Book article 21 IT IS CLEAR NO D.C.F.D. this goes backum  to the Rosenbaum settlement and Chief Ellerbee is just enforcing it.  Also this Lieutenant is under the command of Capt Stern who also was demoted.  Seems that the apple doesn't  fall from the tree.

    • Annie Nonamous

      Sterne has not been demoted, yet it is a proposed discipline action.  Also LRB is picking and choosing what he wants to enforce from the Rosenbaum case.  And Mr Beagle let me ask you this what type of leader/manager/excecutive goes around intimidating their troops by saying things like n"you'll probally loose your job" or "the old patch was not designed by one of our own" and then pointing to his skin, he will not or cannot show where this alleged 36 million dollar savings will come from, and why on this good earth would you propose a shift change via the media without sitting down at a labor mangement meeting and discussing it first?

    • DCFDmember

      The Rosenbaum report does not state no DCFD.  It states that DCFD can still be used in some  areas.  The main area the Rosenbaum report eliminated DCFD is on the ambulances.  After the report became effective all of the ambulances had DCFD taken off of them.   

  • Bryson

    SOooo…. im guessing New Turnout Gear also bcuz that has DCFD on it!  

  • fyrecapt

    Shocker!! Not

  • Bullets

    This particular Lt. knows what the department policy has changed too, and he conticues to violate it. He knew full well what he was risking, and it is his fault for violating policy.
    Seems like he has uniforms on underneath the coat. Why cant he just change the patch on the shoulder of the coat? Any decent uniform shop or dry cleaner can do it for like $6. If he chose to get the DCFD screen printed on the back, then thats an issue, but any decent job shirt or denim chore coat only needs a patch change.
    These DC firefighters are getting really ridiculous with their complaining. Every chief is the "WORST" chief and any change is meet with screaming , crying, and hand wrinning. They are proving the old mantra, "100 years of tradition unimpeded by progress"

  • i know everything

    I would do just the opposite. Why not have every member of your crew wear a different color sweatshirt ? Then let the chief take the heat on the departments appearance from lawmakers and citizens .

  • news hound

    Strength in NUMBERS! They need to stand up and say NO! LRB is a sorry excuse for a leader. Hes not confident or able enough to ride backwards much less be the chief. He is a useless, wortless excuess for a firefighter. That "pointing at his skin" has gotten him allllllll the way to the top and now he has NO idea what hes doing. I hope and pray for the DCFD and that they can get rid of this clown attempting to run such a highly respected department. 

  • fyrecapt

    I sympathize with the DC brothers, but in the end, if the "MAN" says wear freakn pink or face discipline, then ultimately the law has been set. If we choose to ignore the warning as in this case, then we have set ourselves up for trouble that our union has to defend.
    We can bitch all day about what our Chiefs tell us to do, but they are the boss.
    I know the issues are much more than uniforms for DC, I am just generalizing however.
    Good luck to you  guys…

  • 1dctaxpayer

     Hey Beagle
    Harry Thomas Jr, is going to jail for stealing tax payers money, LRB tried to steal tax payers money, and defraud the pension system out of 600,000 dollars, Marion Barry does not pay his taxes,  Mayor gray is under investigation, as well as council member Brown, and a host of others. how do you like them apples?

    • Anonymous

      One has nothing to do with the other

  • The Up North Guy

    There are several issues here that have come to my attention;
    The Lieutenant is setting a poor example of what an Officer should be doing.  He is suppose to lead by example and set the postiive image for his / her crew.  He vilated a rule that he knew was going to be enforce.  Could it be because he like ALL the attention?
    The Lieutenant put the safety of the citizens of DC at risk by not changing his coat / shirt.  With him being sent home this would drop the crew to on 4 members.  Thus, his crew cannot work as effectively as a 5 person crew (heard staffing complaints for years). A five person crew is more effective thatn a 4 person crew. 
    Did they take the Truck OUT OF SERVICE because the OFFICER was not on it and they ere understaffed?  Is this not one of the busiest units in the District??
    Okay, Enough about the Officer..Its deeper than him…Goes back Years…EVERY CHIEF IS THE WORSE in the District…We Get it, You have been telling us this for YEARS.
    This Chief is trying to enforce some of the decisions of the Rosenbaum case..Isn't there something else more pressing and important in the Rosenbaum ruling??
    It is sad when you send staff home for this, but, it is a rule change that was made by the Administration and if they don't enforce it then they are setting themselves up for future problems.
    Are they singling out the Lieutenant…OH YEAH!!  I am sure he has become a target since he has been vocal about the Chief and his policies.  Have there been any other members sent home for violating this policy??  What will happen when 250 Firefighters stand in unison and where the same shirts tommorow, Will they send all 250 home?  Now that would be some Overtime…….

  • Uncle Buck Carpenter Jones

    Let Ellerbe
    By this decree
    now declare 
    what coat they shall wear
    and on this day
    let him pay
    so here's the deal
    pay he will
    but since you made a stink
    he will but FEMSs coat in powder pink
    and you will wear it and you will grin
    knowing that ellerbe did finally win

  • Fire21

    A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.  But so would a skunk!

  • DCFD

    Hey Legal Beagle, I violate that order every day I work. Both of my turnout coats say DCFD on the back. So how much more taxpayer money is Hitler I mean LRB going to waste changing them??? Now if this were me at the TA and I took off my jacket or sweattshirt that said DCFD on the back and put on either one of my runningcoats that say the same It's ok. Kind of stupid isn't it??

  • 1dctaxpayer

     Lets see all of the Scott 4.5 cylinders say D.C.F.D. in big bold letters. Over 3, 500 running coats say D.C.F.D.  And 3/4 of all our offical dress uniforms roughly 1,600  class A coats have 14 brass buttons that say D.C.F.D.,as well as firefighter hat badges D.C.F.D.  and the list goes on and on. Just like everything else this so called Chief does he never thinks ahead, The new winter coats that the chosen few recieved are not even compliant with the 5th and latest article 21.  Give it up LRB we will still be here when you retire and attempt to run for a politicle office. "what goes around comes around"

  • Anonymous

    IMO; We all feel strongly about this issue but it is minor compared with the laundry list of hostile work practices coming from the FEMS Admin.  The issue of continual  workplace harrassment which violates the DPM is taking a back seat to the issue of outerwear and logos. 
     Furthermore, the Deputy (I believe it was a BC) that put Cadillac on charges is doing his job according to the order book.  Should he overlook it?  Maybe, but I mean this as no offense, but Cadillac should think about this hard stance  and let the Union Pres do the camera.  It's preaching to the choir – not the audience.
    DC is a white collar town which pays a lot out of salary for wardrobe (thousands).  The public could care less about changing patches or clothing expenses.  THEY CAN NOT RELATE to this issue and it obscures the real problems within the workplace.  Pick and choose your battles…

    • Brian

      I agree. People need to start filing official complaints for EEO as soon as he does something. Its time to man up folks. Dont complain about it if your not willing to try and fix it.

  • Anonymous

    Why has no one been able to video any of these station visits and get the Chief on tape making these questionable statements or asking these suspect questions?

  • Anonymous

    Doesn't the DCFD Fire Chief have bigger and more urgent matters to deal with than a logo?
    I can't see how this clown ever became Fire Chief. My thoughts and prayers go out to the brothers and sisters of the DCFD. Keep safe

  • Whatever.

    We have a similar management paradigm at my job.
    Uniform issues take up large portions of meetings between management and shift supervisors. The unifrom specifications change on a regular basis. The rules are reinterpreted daily.
    At the same time we lack fundamental fire service leadership. We have no accountability system. We lack any real sense of regulatory compliance. Our training program is virtually non existent.
    So why do leaders pay so much attention to unfiroms when there are so many other critical things demanding their attention? I think it can only be because they lack the knowledge and ability to mange the big problems. And in order to not appear completely incompetent they do the one thing that they *can* do: issue orders about the very very few things they do understand.

  • PPFD

    Your mayor isn't going to do a thing to a brother.
    Do you all get a uniform allowance?

  • Anonymous

    Uniform allowance – another thing that is part of the on-going collective bargaining process where the Chief is not acting in good faith.  He should have never issued these orders pertaining to uniform policy until negotiations concluded.  Unfortunately, this is what we are dealing with. He could care less about good faith negotiations as long as it has to do with the traditions of the agency and his belief of how the Rosenbaum recs should play out., it seems.
     A few years back a uniform allowance was discounted by the Union because it was felt the money would be spent on things other than uniforms.  These things were provided and if not you had some leeway to take pride in your own purchase by this is now become an issue.  

  • 8truck

    First, the Union rep needs to get a good cost estimate of changing everything over from brass buttons to the Rigs. Next, release a press statement  and inform the taxpayers that this is where Ellerbe is spending their tax dollars. You get the public involved and then they complain to the mayor. Not sure it will work in DC but its worth a shot. If they want to enfore the uniform policy they should have to wait until all department equipment (SCBA, rigs, gear, etc) is changed over. Why does it matter what the FF is wearing under his turnout coat that says DCFD on the back.

  • Stuart

    Someone clarify what the uniform policy in DC is currently. How do you get a uniform and what do they give you to wear?

  • Heywood

    The patch issue is getting alittle ridiclious, the point is how can you outlaw  a coat saying DCFD but you are still issuing running coats that say DCFD. We need to talk about the other issues more in the media like cutting the workforce by 25% or not being able to keep firetrucks or ambulances in service. How do you justify putting units out of service to have cosmetic changes done (taking DCFD stickers off) to them while there is a truck conmpany or engine out of service with no reserve appartus to switch over to. Why are we riding in ambulances with no heat or air, medical tape holding on rearview mirrors, and cardboard dashboards. Why did we build a brand new burn building and no training has taken place since he has become chief. The patch is a little issue on top of everything else most of the fireman dont care what they have to wear but if you are going to keep telling us what to wear and changing it over and over then issue it. However  it is not going to be long before more names are added to the list of 99 who have died protecting this great city if changes dont start taking place and thats a FACT.

  • DC Firefighter

    Besides two complete sets of running gear/turnout gear, you now only receive two NFPA compliant long sleeve button down uniform shirts and two NFPA compliant works trousers. Prior to the issuance of the NFPA compliant uniforms members were issued four short sleeve button down uniform shirts, four long sleeve button down uniform shirts and four pairs of work trousers. Also we are issued collar brass, a name tag, and a black leather belt. That is all. No outwear, (i.e. no sweatshrts for mild weather, no winter coats for cold weather, no hats cold weather or baseball style, no shoes, no socks, no t-shirts, nothing else). We are also issued a full Class A dress uniform, Sack Coat, Tropical Trousers, Long Sleeve Dress Shirt, clip on tie, Cover (hat), and appopriate brass, and cover badge.
    Also LRB (in one of the FIVE uniform policy changes over the last year) changed the uniform policy back to allowing only short sleeve uniformed shirts to be worn from Oct. 31st to April 1st. Long sleeve button down shirts to be worn from Oct. 31st to April 1st.  So basically if we are not issued short sleeve unifom shirts by April 1st the entire Department is going to once again be non-compliant with LRB's uniform policy.

  • Titanic

    Stuart…. Members of the department are issued pants, button-down shirts (long sleeve for winter and short for summer), a belt, and turnout gear. That's it. No allowance. Everything else is supplied by the members, out of pocket. So, in order to stay warm in the winter, members have to purchase ALL cold weather gear on their own. Thus, all members purchased their own hats and coats that complied with certain guidlines.
    When Ellerbe was appointed to administrator he began making uniform changes. In no particular order….he outlawed t-shirts(which were previously allowed) & required all to wear the provided button-downs. There was some belly-aching(as with most changes), but the members complied.
    Banned the use of the maltese cross logo (which was popular with the majority of the department) & outlawed "DCFD"; both forced members to come out of pocket to replace existing coats, job shirts, and winter hats to be in compliance.
    To avoid shelling out more money for new outerwear with new embroidery (with the risk of it being eventually outlawed) most members chose to follow the uniform order that stated members could wear coats without markings as long as they were dark blue or black, and solid in color. Then Ellerbe decided to change that part of the order and require members to take their personally bought blank coats and require members to once again come out of pocket to add a patch and put their name on the front.
    All of these changes without any uniform allowance which required members to either freeze, or pay out of pocket for. 

  • All you Sally’s

    Sounds like a bunch of whining to me…quit your job!!! Im sure plenty of UNEMPLOYED people would be MORE THAN willing to spend the few dollars to at least say they got a damn job!

  • Anonymous

    Titanic. . . . . forgot a few other things in the uniform changes: shorts were taken away from us to wear in the nice weather, polo shirts (which again member shelled out their hard earned, non raise own money for) were banned from us, and DCFD collar brass was banned also, something that was actually ISSUED to us at one time. What I really want is my dress cap badge with my number on it, how can I get that???

  • RIZZ

    At first we had HOOKMAN, now we have CADILAC. Whats next? Must not be getting any attention at home.

  • Anonymous

    Ellerbee your continued Black Panther Racist ignorant mentality seems to never stop. You are without a doubt the most stupid miserable excuse for a Human Being. Just for the record Your recent Actions of demoting the senior most BFC and sending home a Lt. who suffered serious Life threatening burn injuries in the performance of his job. BFC Stern was the Incident Commander on two of the most serious fires in the city in recent times. Several years back a young African American Sgt. and his crew from Engine 4 on the scene of a working House Fire 4th Street NE. Flash Over Trapping these Professionals. They went inside together searching for any Trapped people inside. They stayed together and they came out together. The crews of RS# and T13 with Lt. Alvarado on the scene working House Fire 48th Place NE. Flash Over Trapping these Firefighters. Lt. Alvarado suffered serious Life threatening Burns. He and his crews went inside together stayed together and came out together. Your Racist Vindictive mentality is disgusting and it is not worthy of the DC Fire and EMS Dept. Both Chief Stern and Lt. Alvarado two of the best DC Fire and EMS has to offer disciplined to the vendetta of your ignorance. The only reason you demoted Stern was to open a BFC Position to promote your ignorant know nothing/do nothing Brother. Lt. Alvarado was at Training Academy Training to better prepare himself and his crew of an upcoming certification.  How can you look yourself in the mirror and think you are a real Professional/Fire Officer? You are absolutely not.  You arenot even a good wannabe. Your Brother willnot have to make any decisions as a BFC. He can just call you. Ellerbee you make me sick. You and your merry band of Tattletales are an an absolute shameful digrace to  even think you are any deserving Professionals of DC Fire and EMS. Ellerbee What Goes Around Comes Around.


    RIZZ…who is WE?

  • Tradition should rule

    I bet the guys in Sarasota are laughing and dancing in the street and would gladly kiss Gray’s ass for hiring this clown away from them.