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UPDATE: Lieutenant who said DC chief showed ‘lack of leadership’ demoted & suspended. Department says Robert Alvarado violated ‘Patient Care Bill of Rights’ during TV interview & also failed to wear compliant coat.

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Previous story: Lt. Alvarado sent home after wearing banned patch at training academy

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

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

UPDATE: The ACLU made comments about the case of Lt. Alvarado & sent a letter to DC’s Attorney General about the recent demotion and transfer of two battalion chiefs who handled discipline in the firehouse beer incident last year. Read the latest from Andrea Noble at The Washington Times.

NOTE: There also news on another DC Fire & EMS Department story. The latest on”watergate” later this evening.

The U.S. Department of Justice issued a letter in May to law enforcement about interfering with the rights of the press and the public to take pictures and video in public places. A federal appeals court issued a ruling almost a year ago that also makes it pretty clear government officials shouldn’t mess with photographers in places where there isn’t an expectation of privacy. But a DC Fire & EMS Department lieutenant who went public with his complaint about Chief Kenneth Ellerbe’s multiple changes in uniform policy has been suspended and demoted for, among other things, failing to tell a TV crew to stop rolling its cameras during a medical emergency on a public street. Robert Alvarado told a reporter today that he has been found guilty of violating the “Patient Care Bill of Rights”.

If the DC Fire & EMS Department actually expects its firefighters to start asking or telling the press and the public to stop shooting pictures then Chief Ellerbe must want to be in the running for the Minister … or rather Secretary of Information job (AKA National Editor-in-Chief) I nominated Larimer County, Colorado Sheriff Justin Smith for. As you know, I threw my support behind Sheriff Smith for this post when he asked news crews to stop shooting burning homes and then put restrictions on the press in covering the tragic wildfires. But I have to tell you those pesky lawyers like Curt Varone at keep writing that the First Amendment doesn’t mean it’s up to the government to decide “first” what we can and can’t take pictures of. Really? And who knew that HIPAA or the Patient Care Bill of Rights doesn’t trump THE Bill of Rights? How come I didn’t get that memo?

And now Art Spitzer, the legal director for  the ACLU of the Nation’s Capital, is getting in on the act claiming the fire department can’t tell people to turn off their cameras and can’t keep employees from talking to the press. What? Here’s more from the article by Andrea Noble at The Washington Times:

As the interview was taking  place on a public sidewalk in front of the fire station, Mr. Spitzer wrote that, “Neither Lt. Alvarado nor anyone else — including Fire Chief  Ellerbe, had he been present — had any power to tell Fox News to turn  off its cameras.”

Among  the other charges brought against Lt. Alvarado, but not ruled on, was a  charge based on a department order that had been ruled unconstitutional  in a 1990 court case.

The order declared that department  employees could not give interviews while on duty without prior written  permission from a public affairs officer. In a 1990 lawsuit brought by  the firefighters union, the U.S. District Court for the District “found  that regulation to be an unconstitutional prior restraint on  firefighters’ freedom of speech and prohibited the Department ‘from  enforcing [the] regulation in the future,’” Mr. Spitzer wrote.

Robert Alvarado says he was informed that he should have stopped the camera from rolling and then dealt with the patient.

As for Alvarado, he told Fox 5/WTTG-TV reporter Paul Wagner he was also punished for wearing a jacket with the wrong insignia on a cold day at the department’s training academy. Alvarado say he gets six and half weeks off without pay and is demoted to sergeant for both the patient confidentiality and uniform infractions.

You may recall when the whole uniform flap appeared, Alvarado challenged the chief to supply compliant outwear after the many changes in the uniform policy due to Chief Ellerbe’s decision to revert to an older department patch. Alvarado told Wagner that he believes the discipline is retaliation for his previous statements to the reporter about the chief. Here’s an excerpt from a January 21 report:

“I know it looks like a Home Shopping Network display here, but this is what we have gone through,” said Lieutenant Robert Alvarado with Truck 13, showing FOX 5 on a table all of the winter weather gear he has purchased that is now no longer compliant with the uniform policy. “We started out at the end of the year with this t-shirt here and this sweatshirt here and both were an acceptable uniform item. As of January 1st, these items are done, can’t wear them. This jacket as well because it has DCFD on the back, and this is a winter jacket purchased with my own money which makes me clearly identifiable as a member of the department. That’s no longer good.”

According to reporter Wagner, Chief Ellerbe declined to comment for today’s story because Alvarado has the right to appeal.

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Comments - Add Yours

  • Gil

    Failing to tell a TV crew to stop rolling its cameras during a medical emergency on a public street. What type of crap is that? Are we going to stop everyone one the street with a camera? They are really reaching for stuff now. If he took time to stop the camera crew then they would have said he took too long to treat the patient. What a head hunt.

    • DCFDmember

      Exactly Gil, they were going to find something to use against Lt Alvarado. Thus, no matter what he did they would have found fault with it.

      • RJ(in florida)

        did anyone other than me “NOT” see this comming and since it was a “city” vehicle how do we know that it wasnt a setup?

        a city vehicle simply drives up with a medical emergency and a lieutenant who has a beef with the chief gets demoted and suspended?…sounds a little “too” coincindential for me

        fight it LT and while you’re on suspension wear the DCFD shirt

    • so what

      Maybe if he wasn’t trying to bring attention to himself for such a BS cause there wouldn’t been cameras there. Self promotion got his demotion. He should of been fired.

      • RJ(in florida)

        spoken like a real suckie there “so what”. only the bold make a difference and i hope he sticks it to them like LRB screwed up sarasota then left (he’s got “kept”) a real cool condo down here too)

  • Gil

    I guess now on medical locals on the street we have to shut down the block so no one sees the patient.

  • Truck Dude

    It is terrible that very seldom you see any firefighting action by DCFD. It always about how the Fire Czar is putting this once proud Department through one embarrassing episode after another.

  • Anonymous

    When will it end?!?!

  • Jason

    I hope Lt Alvarado likes his boss’ house because he might just end up owning it after this one. There is no expectation of privacy on a public street. It would be one thing if he invited a camera crew in the back of an ambulance. but this? Sorry doesn’t pass the smell test

    Dave I need to thank you for the public service. I feel so much better about where I work after reading Statter911 each day. It’s tough to have any legit morale problem after reading this stuff. Good luck to the guys in DC, Detroit, Scranton and everywhere firefighters are taking it on the chin.

  • DCFDmember

    I’m not sure if the department referenced HIPPA in their charges against Lt Alvarado, but if they did that would be an incorrect application of that law. HIPPA only applies to health care providers and those who do medical billing, it does not apply to the news media or the general public.

    I’ve seen so many fire and EMS members around the country try to tell the media they can’t videotape or photograph an incident and state due to HIPPA. Those members should have paid better attention when they were doing their HIPPA training.

    • RJ(in florida)

      good point DC. the HIPPA laws have been used by the cops to stop photographers from shooting fires. i hope he beats this an nanny nanny boo boo’s it from the rooftops when its done but you know thats gonna take 20 months and 20 thousand hoops to jump through in the end

  • Legeros

    Demotions for everyone! This an episode of “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell me,” isn’t it? And we’re supposed to guess which one of your stories this week are made-up, right?

    • dave statter

      No, unfortunately it isn’t. But I have an old friend who is a panelist on that show pretty regularly.

  • Old School

    Ellerbe is an IDIOT!

  • Anonymous

    Turn off traffic cameras as well as red light and speed cameras just in case someone speeds or runs a red light near the scene and you can see the pt in the pictures. Are they looking for any thing and everything????????? WTF?

  • fyrecapt

    This is not a shocker to any of us that have been following the drama in DC.

    We all saw this coming, it was just a matter of when and how.

    Good luck Lt. Alvarado! Stand your ground and dont let them take you for a “ride” brother!

  • Anonymous

    The “Game” is the same, just the “Players” change. The pool filling is not the first time. A lieut. promoted over another lieut. An AFC demoted to BFC and told to go home. A Capt. demoted to F/F and then fired. BFC sent home for same fire. A BFC who had a hand in the last two still here. It was funny when all those things were going on. But it’s not funny now.

  • Anonymous

    So………the “Cadillac” has been busted down to a “Chevy”………
    You play P@$$Y you get F@c%ed…….
    You F@c% with Bull……You get the Horns…….

    I’m sure all of the fellas that edged you on and stood behind you will be there for you and your family.

  • Dickey

    The good Lieutenant needs to fight this tooth and nail against that idiot. Speak out and the target goes on your back. I worked for a chief like that once it totally sucked. Fight fight fight!!!

    Stay strong my friend.

  • Ol Sokol 86

    I’m done. If you not hangin with ellerbe on a reg. basis your subject to this..As a IOC a lot of guys are not going the extra mile on fires….it’s not worth it anymore.maybe,,I will do what most “shining stars” have done for yrs. hangout on fires outside and talk on radio.You can’t get in trouble that way.Houses are gonna burn down! I’ve been used to making adjustments to tactics on different fires to get the job done,BUT NO more. This idiot is trying to witch hunt anyone who is not on his team. I cannot believe the mayor is for this. Demote the Afco for the unapproved closing of companies and jeopardizing the citizens. Demote the aides that can’t run telestaff, etc…this has gone too far. Guys, do the bare minimum and watch your back! Only those real firemen that do their jobs well are being transferred,and harassed…….

    • Welcome to our world

      Oh really is that right Ol sokol, Its remarkable how some of you beat your chest like your such a great firemen.Dont flatter yourself, guaranteed there is some who believe your a piece of work also.So dont sling mud like you have your sh@t together all the way around.You probably werent doing your job the right way from jump based on your statement.So continue being the load that you are and let the dedicated ones continue to do the commnuities work.Spoken like a true outsider who dont give a rats a@@ for the community.I wish the citizens could see your comment,what a waste of an employee.You should quit now and save my community the trouble of having someone who doesnt care.But its ok right cause your just here to make money and take it back to bum fu@k Egypt. sorry A@@

  • hydro engineer

    Those news cameras had about the same coverage as the new Cameras in the New Ambulances Hmmm….??? So lrb should be relieved from duty since we can not shut them off when we get a patient on board!!

    • Anonymous

      The cameras in the unit are not on at all times

  • Pingback: Another DC Demotion and the Allegations Are Flying | Fire Law()

  • so what

    He should of been fired. Insubordination.

    • ClownShow

      I love people like you. Why should he have been fired? Insubordination,Give be a break!

      • Welcome to our world

        I sincerly hope your not an officer Clownshow,because you dont know the meaning of being a professional. Any officer who agrees with SGT Alvarado is a real clown.You cant get more wrong.You act like he stood up for a worthy cause it wasn’t worth it.Not only did he lose a chunk of money over several months.He lost out for the next 2yrs.Ask yourself were you thinking about your family when you stood up while being insubordinate.He didnt display good attributes of a good leader,that was poor judgement.I see why they the union are trying to raise money for him and they should.They were the ones pushing and backing him so they should compensate.what a joke

    • Somebody

      Wipe that Kool-Aid off of your chin before it drips on your soon to be white button-down….it stains. All of you “y’all need to pick your battles” folks listen up. When a fire chief harasses his employees on a daily basis, in this case through over 5 uniform changes in less than a year, for which we have footed the bill each and every time… That’s a battle worth fighting. DCFD is worth fighting for, PERIOD. The fact is, this chief does not do what’s best for this department….EVER. He does not do what’s best for the city. And every time he gets caught making one of his all-star decisions by the media, it seems to be today’s news and gone tomorrow. But while the general public is entertained for 15 minutes, we’re stuck with this clown. Cadillac stood up for us when no one else would. We do our jobs. We protect and care for this city with the upmost diligence. If only this jackass “chief” could say the same, we would be in a better place. This show is getting old, and if you don’t feel the same because your in his deminishing click… Hold on, because these 4 years will one day be nothing more than a bad dream, but we remember your Kool-Aid drinking, F the men, couldn’t direct traffic at a crosswalk let alone a fireground, asses. Stay safe boys and girls. And for the general public who reads this- thank you for allowing us to answer our calling and serve you. That’s what we’re here for. Rest easy, you’re in the hands of some of the best firemen in the country. You should however be appalled at the fact that this “fire chief”, his pal the mayor, and a few other select gems put your lives in jeopardy through their careless and wreckess decisions. We do more with less than virtually any big city fire department (God bless you Detroit), and that’s not going anywhere… But this guy has gotta go! Thank you Cadillac. Good luck in your battle to come.

    • Hud003

      No way! you probably have no idea what those who work for this department have to go through. Everyday this department is losing loyal, hard working, educated and dedicated firefighters to other jurisdictions….. speaks volumes. Unfortunately this is exactly what this so called “Chief” wants.
      What do we have beaten into us… nothing should impede patient care… especially in DC, patient care has been in the spotlight and scrutinized. The Chief should be proud that he had a Lt running to provide care and have it on tape… good PR… Exactly what the city needs. Instead he goes overboard! BRING IN A NEW CHIEF!!

  • Anonymous

    If we are concerned with th patients bill of rights, why then are our patients being forced to ride in ambulances where the internal temps exceed 100 degrees. REFUSE TO USE THOSE UNITS and cite the Patients Bill of Rights!!!!

  • Concerned Citizen

    The ironic thing is, if Lt. Alvarado would have put his running coat on instead of his personal coat, he would have been in compliance. What’s on the back of his running coat? DCFD. Ellerbe is a demented tyrant. They always fall eventually.

  • FMCH6444

    Obvious Troll ‘so what’ is obvious

  • Truckdriver

    Worst in twenty years.Watch your backs and those of your fellow workers.All should be negotiating a contract with a real leader instead of defending our every move.Slow your roll ladies and gentlemen You are being WATCHED

  • Ol Sokol 86

    Has anyone noticed that during a major event, (storms etc) or big fires where guys did a great job(SE fire) saved numerous citizens the chief never goes out of his way to speak and shed good light on anything we do to the press? never has press conf on foregrounds….I guess he hates the media just like he hates 98%of our workforce…we need a bailout plan, Obama help…someone help…..Donald trump help !

  • welcome to our world

    Ok you motha’s have lost your mind.From now on since a lieutenant can be insubordinate to his superiors,privates can be to.I’m not surprised by the responses here wouldn’t expect nothing less from the peanut galley.Anyone backing that LT is just as unprofessional and lack disciplice as he.WHAT DOES THE ORDERBOOK SAY ABOUT INSUBORDINATION,YOU F@CKS DONT WANT TO ADDRESS THAT HUH?.Anyone who refuse to follow an order from his superiors should be fired no questions ask.You want to be dumb your gonna be strong some one once said.Anyone else want to test the waters(next)be my guess.

    • Hoof Arted

      You mean insubordinate like lying to city council about fire resistant clothing; or insubordinate like lying on your taxes when living in another state; or like jumping the chain of command to call the administrator directly? Is that the kind of insubordination you are talking about?

      Just checking.

  • welcome to our world

    Next time a private doesn’t listen or obey an officers commands lets just sweep it under the rug and say its no big deal.Hey cadillac you shouldnt be able to charge anyone who does not agree or listen to you.Because thats the message that 95% of you are sending on this site.right is right and wrong is wrong I think.

  • Anonymous

    Welcome to our world is an a@@. Nuff said.

  • SkidMarks

    “Right is right and wrong is wrong YOU THINK”???

    Spoken like a true moron. My guess is your one of the “shining stars” who has a direct line to EllerB@*&H like the beer snitch.

    • So what

      Welcome to our world you have made a perfect analogy of the situtation. The Sgt.(Cadilac) should let the union handle the uniform policy but he chose self promotion and acted on his own. People say he couldn’t of stopped the filming. That is not true because he called the news cameras there so he indeed could of asked for the camera crew to quit filming. Furthermore, the camera crew didn’t just stumble up on the scene. They were there to interview the self promoting Sgt. SkidMarks I am more than sure you wouldn’t come from behind that alias and introduce yourself to me or Welcome to our world. I believe you like many who post on here are reminiscent of the Ku Klux Klan hiding behind a hood your screen name.

  • somebody

    Listen, “welcome to our world”…(kind of an ironic name, what are you implying) The fact that just another minion down at the training academy who doesn’t have the balls to stand up for the men training and do what is right, ordered a LT to take off his personal coat with the EXACT SAME INSIGNIA as the running coat that he was expected to wear in its place. The only difference? His personal coat could provide better protection against the elements. Now if you, or anyone else on the “I guess that’s just the way it’s gonna be” train can’t see that, then you are even dumber than you lead on with your inability to express yourself above the level of a first grader. There is a concept that is often expressed through these outlets; stick together. It is one of the most important and fundamental principals of the fire department. How can we truly serve at our highest abilities if we are torn? The real answer is simple. Most of our members know what is right and wrong. When given the opportunity, the good backstep guys and officers take care of each other because we know that when we do that we have nothing to give but our best. The small minority of you though, who back this “chief” for personal gain through divide and conquer, shame on you. It doesn’t matter if you’re from the city. It doesn’t matter what your background is. What matters is that we can spot you as a coward and a Kool-aid drinker from 100 miles away. It is sad that at the end of the day, this “chief” has come at us from every angle, EVERY WEEK with some new bs policy to put his shitty stamp on this world class agency, that things like getting rid of DCFD are suddenly “not a battle worth fighting.” Well some of us did come here to join a long standing traditional department. Some of us do want to be part of something that is bigger than the aspirations of a sociopath who wants nothing more than to one day be the mayor. Not so that he can help this fine city, but rather to fulfill some twisted sense of self-worth. A co-worker once said to me, “most guys who come to the DCFD come to be firemen. Some come for nothing more than a paycheck.” Firemen will help and defend other firemen. Cowards will defend other cowards. They have to stick together. After all, who wants to be the only coward in an agency of brave and dedicated men and women? Live it up though “welcome to our world.” You’ve got a couple more years of this petty and cowardice bs. Great job boys and girls in the aftermath of the storm, as well as on the fourth of July. I just wanted to say that to you, because you can rest assure that it’s sincere coming from me. It is just a small cup of water to wash out that crappy taste left in your mouth after our “chief’s” feeble way of giving us a shout out, while really just trying to cover up the fact that someone, more thank likely from Grimke, gave an order to fill up a private swimming pool on the busiest day of the year.

  • somebody

    Oh, and someone please remind me that we are a paramilitary structure! Because I’m sure this ongoing brother-f%$#ing, would be accepted practice in the military on a daily basis. Give me a break!! The concept of a chain-of-command can only operate to it’s fullest potential when the leaders and those at the top of the chain truly value and care about the well-being of those below them. I’m not saying to ever disobey an direct order. It does however take some backbone to stick up for not only your men but the entire department, the way that Cadillac did. And “so what” your comments of the KKK are off base, and offensive. We are better than that as a department.

  • so what

    Wow somebody! I get it now all you have to do disagree with you and by your standards you will label them a coward. Who made you the judge and jury on what a firefighter should be. First, you can’t be my brother because I trust my brother and I could never trust you. What makes me laugh is that I’m suppose believe that this Fire Chief is the worst because you feel that way. Well let me say this where were you my brother when I was one of 95% african americans going to a trial board for frivolous reasons? Oh I know you were aligning with the so called fireman that you give so much praise everyday. Let me tell you something the same rules and laws that govern me apply to you and your friends buddy. The days are gone when you could be taken care of because of who you new and who you were related to. This Chief has been in this department for a long time and has made his changes some I like and some I could care less about. But one thing for certain you will be treated no different from me if you broke a rule and that is transparency. Sgt. Alvarado was insubordinate and he was dealt with and in my book he is a self promoting person similiar to the boz and TO and deserved to be fired for not obeying a direct order. I don’t see him as no hero for this cause plain and simple. The Union president needs to worry about more important union issues because wearing dcfd on my back ain’t that important. Somebody you need to take the hood off before you call someone a coward. Maybe you should approach that person on one of your off days and address them with your thoughts like a man if you really feel that way. And what’s the deal with running to the press with everything? Oh I guess its how brothers take care of each other in the fireman world. Paramilitary that’s funny also because in the military go ahead and try to disobey a direct order from a superior about a uniform and you will see the outcome won’t be to pleasant.

    • Welcome to our world

      Somebody says your full of sh@t and have a twisted way of thinking.I sure hope none of you rise up to the top of the ranks for we shall be in trouble.If the post here are an indicator of leaders to come,than the future looks bleak.

  • Welcome to our world

    So what, it is very clear who the cowards are on this job.The same men who are petrified and dont open their mouths when working east of the anacostia.Most if not all of you my so called brothers dont have the fortitude to stand toe to toe with a man.(hoof arted)you need to look up the department definition of insubordination,oops! I guess you just made up yours.Sgt Alvarado was used as a patsy by the union and his so called brothers.Lets not keep going there about who is and who aint a fireman,thats very subjective.The facts are the SGT.was insubordinate for not removing his coat.(point).He is a supervisor and he set a bad example for subordinates by not following orders(point).If Ray sneed was here I dont think he would have taken the petty issue of dcfd, let alone backing an officer who disobeys orders.The sooner the union changes leadership at the top the better because it is toothless.How about doing a tv interview about disability and raises.F@ck out of here talking about some bullsh@t t shirt.The population they know who are here for real and who are here to dwell in their misfortune.

  • What the heck

    Its apparent that some on the fire department do not believe in following orders according to these post.Is it because it comes from a black leader?. My relatives tell me that morale was terribles from the last administration. They also say that the ones on this site were ok with discrimination and favoritism from the last regime.As long as your ok who cares about fairness to others huh?.Looks to me and what im told that the department is divided and isnt a brotherhood.How could you say that a firefighter who disobeys an order is a hero and that he is sticking up for his men.I call him a trouble maker and someone who cannot and will not comform to the rules. Someone wrote if you dont want to follow the rules than you need to quit!.Chief Ellerbe I dont know you but ive heard of you and your reputation in this community exceeds any of the past.Chief keep pressing on and doing a great job we the citizens of D.C. support your efforts to change the department.As im told they are outsiders and many not all dont care about the district,just a paycheck to take by home.I see you have support from some of your firefighters on here as well as the community.Do whats right for the good of your department and not be swayed by the detractors.Since they want to report everything to the press,we will be your eyes and ears in the community.When they run a red light,curse in uniform,speed excessively down my street we’ll report them.You have the backing of this community over anyone who has NO INTEREST IN US!. Just a concerned citizen speaking my piece.

    • ha

      I always find it funny when it is said that those who don’t live in the city don’t care about it. I’ve found that the people in the department that regularly don’t come to work, are late to work, do anything to get out of work, and say this job is only a paycheck….are city residents.

  • Imhotep

    Look, we work for the fire department. It doesn’t work for us. None of us have all the facts that go with these decisions. Just keep doing the job to the best of your abilities. That what a professional does. This petty bickering over a uniform is ridiculous. If someone doesn’t like it, nobodies stopping anyone from leaving the department. Anyway, how many or you have actually suffered from any changes made so far?

  • welcome to our world

    Are u kidding the union is backing or sponsoring a drive to help SGT Alvarado pay his bills.I dont recall this being done for lets say,Capt Coleman,Lt Humphrey,Sgt Clark.The sgt was demoted for insubordination the issue about the news crew was icing on the cake.Chief rubin and shultz you are truly P.O.S’s and are not real leaders.I say we recall the union president and give him a vote of no confidence.I can see if a member was sick and the union wanted to do a drive to help him or her.I dont want my hard earned union dues used to bail out a degenerate. The UNION IS A JOKE WE NEED TO GET RID OF TOP PLAYERS THEY ARE INEPT,INCOMPETENT,AND UNPROFESSIONAL.I start the motion to recall them.