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DC firefighter disputes Chief Kenneth Ellerbe’s claim that training academy harassment did not involve ‘physical sexual misconduct’. Tells about touching & comments.

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Previous coverage of this story here & here

Chief Ellerbe’s February statement correcting TV story about harassment claims

Jay Korff, WJLA-TV/ABC7:

An active duty female D.C. firefighter is breaking her silence to speak up  for young female cadets who allege sexual harassment at the DC Fire and EMS  Training Academy.

Fearing retaliation, the firefighter requested anonymity. She’s  being referred to as “Susan” in this story.

She says when she joined a recruit class a few years ago, it came with a  warning from a female academy employee about some of the male instructors.

“She just said, ‘be careful, because a lot of them, they don’t know their  boundaries,” she says.

Almost immediately, Susan says, the sexual harassment began. One instructor  commented, “guess who wore the wrong bra today,” she says.

After a tough day of training, Susan says that same instructor got her alone.  She says his hand moved from her shoulder slowly down to the top of her  backside.

“And then as the hand like went lower to like you know here, I was just like,  ‘Um, yeah please don’t ever touch me. Like, that’s hugely inappropriate,’” she  says.

Fearing for her job, Susan kept quiet until she saw ABC7’s recent  investigation centering on two young female cadets, fresh out of high school,  who accused two instructors of sexual harassment. She says those cadets came to  her for advice and told her what the instructors said.

“You know, they’re babies. And, so for them to speak to them like that and  you know, just make any sort of sexual comments toward them is just disgusting,” she says.

The fire department has reassigned the two instructors to positions outside  of the academy and launched an internal investigation.

But when ABC7 approached D.C. Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe in February, he  insisted the alleged harassment was “not” sexual in nature.

“What we believe happened was more some inappropriate language and touching,  not of a sexual nature, but the matter made the young ladies uncomfortable,” Ellerbe says.

But one male firefighter says he also felt compelled to speak out, saying  he’s aware of cases in which superiors intimidated female firefighters into not  filing complaints.

“And I know of two issues uh, first hand, um where issues of sexual  harassment or harassment towards women have been basically brushed under the  table,” said the male firefighter who declined to be identified.

A fire department spokesperson declined comment about the status of the  latest alleged harassment investigation. He did say the department provided  additional training for staff to address concerns regarding inappropriate  conduct toward colleagues. And a female instructor has been placed at the  academy to train cadets as well.

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Comments - Add Yours

  • mark

    So this idiot apparently attended the Clinton University of what constitutes sex?

    I will always have a hard time figuring out how such incompetency can rise so far in gov’t bureaucracy. From local gov’t right up to the presidency. Simply amazing.


    I have come to understand how knuckleheads in charge of other large FDs keep their jobs. They are measured against the LRB scale. Don’t be quite as clueless as DC’s fearless leader, and you get to keep your job, too.

  • Barney Miller

    When the person who can fix this is immoral (prior harassment themselves), unethical
    (retirement, Homestead credit) and retaliatory (union President), your possibility for honest
    investigations and/ or resolution is ZERO. Not to mention the fact that the persons in
    question were his “BOYS”. Ellerbe has hand selected every person in key positions, that’s
    why he is minimizing the charges and discrediting the females (later he will tell us all he
    “misspoke” about this). He talked about working with labor being transparent and making
    discipline fair across the board at his confirmation and all he has done is not discipline his
    “Boys”, over discipline people who are not his “Boys”. Yeah Yeah Yeah…..that’s what the prior
    administration did yada yada yada…I thought he was the champion for fair and just….Gonna
    Make it Right! Well guess what, It is worse than it ever was, and HE AINT NO BETTER THAN
    His Predecessor. Actually, the other guy never limited OT, kept our vehicles running, shorts,
    Polos, holiday pay when the city shut down, training all over, good press when we made rescues
    or put out fires. Some one should revisit his confirmation resolution, he promised to do so much
    for us and has done the opposite. I read it yesterday and he admitted the fleet was a problematic
    issue that he had to get on top of…so WTH??

  • Anonymous

    For Ellerbee to make such a stupid staement “It wasnot of a Sexual Nature” is an absolute shameful disgrace. The Firefighter Trainees have experienced something that is against the Law, not to mention it shows no respect to the Female Gender. These young Women are trying their vry best to
    live up to the Professional Standards afforded to their Male Counterparts. Yes Ellerbee it was most definitely of a sexual Nature. What would you chatacterize these disgusting acts of
    inappropritae behavior. Both Male and female Firefighters are Trained to work together, Trust each other in the Station and on the Fireground or Emergency EMS scene. Ellerbee what is wrong with you. At the very least the Trust and Respect needed by all has been tarnished. The very Basic Body of Knowledge being Taught at the Training Academy with what occurred has been Professionally and Personally damaged. Did you ever stop to think and realize these actions showed a complete disregard to the Female Trainees, as a Person/a Human Being. Then professionally these comments/actions have dgraded the Firefighting Profession. Ellerbee shame on you for being so inconsiderate and just plain ignorant about such a serious matter. Then again you are an expert at Work Place Sexual Harrassment, are you not? Ellerbee once again you have brought shame and disgrace to our Nation’s Capitol Fire and EMS Dept.
    You, your words and lack of Professionalism are far below any Professional Standards of Conduct. Ellerbee you make me sick.

    • dave statter

      Just to be clear, looking at his earlier statement, Chief Ellerbe said it this way, “No employee has made an allegation of physical sexual misconduct.” In my headline I noticed I left out the physical part and corrected it.


    Isn’t ironic how under Kenneth’s fair and transparent disciplinary system, that the majority who walk wrong are put on charges, ordered to type 100 special reports, face a trial board, demoted or given ridiculous amounts of suspension hours…however….run your hands down the pathway that leads to a female FF’s pretty place????….trial board…thought of termimation or demotion….oh hells no….you just get transferred back to the firehouse and we will say that nosy Jay Korff we ordered training for those individuals transferred so they’ll never touch a females boo boo again…even though no training was ordered, but since I have a masters degree in being an inept pathological lying tyrant, I figured if I can do it in front of CM Wells…well, I’m pretty sure I’m capable of lying when questioned by the media….

    And why would my lies matter anyways….As long as Vinny and Paul continue to have full confidence in me and I continue my presence at every single ANC meeting and my sack coat looks impeccable….I’m fireproof to all you no good FF’s that live outside of the 25 mile zone and put your life on the line everytime you come to work for complete strangers….If you doubt for 1 second I’m not fire proof…well click on this link and ill teach you son!!!


    Barney….ding ding ding….you put the nail in the coffin…minus the predecessor

    • Anonymous

      HOOKMAN says “….As long as Vinny and Paul continue to have full confidence in me”…….ding ding ding…..until YOU’RE able to cast a vote in an D.C. Election and vote us out of office…..SUCK IT UP B!t@h!!!!!

      • HOOKMAN

        awww….such sweet words….kisses

  • Puzzled

    Ok. I feel better now. Days without a story out of DC, I was starting to have the shakes.

    It would seem to me, as a voter come election time, I would remember these issues when I chose a mayor and or council members. The citizens of DC should demand better of their decision makers. Change that administration, to change the department.

    At any rate, I’m glad I’m not the City Attorney. I’m positive I’d be looking for another job.

  • 19262007

    As long as everyone is a DC resident nothing else matters.

  • 19262007

    Sexual misconduct doesn’t have to be physical to be sexual misconduct, sexual misconduct is sexual misconduct… and touching is physical. Don’t go all William Jefferson Clinton on me and debate the word “is”!

  • ukfbbuff

    What part of “Inappropriate” touching is it that these guys in training did not understand?

    They should have been fired along with Ellerbe.

  • Fire21

    If a female complains about a male doing “some inappropriate language and touching”, what’s chances that it’s NOT sexual in nature? A pat on the back, or a handshake won’t elicit complaints. But pats elsewhere on the anatomy, even if congratulatory, are seldom welcomed or accepted. And I’m betting these weren’t pats, but rather touches and gropes! JMHO

  • Barney Miller

    I do believe the “legal” term would be “Battery”/: The unpermitted touching of another without consent or implied consent from that person. That is the legal issue for the person on camera, the young cadets would have sexual harassment by the Federal Law/ DC Law and DCFEMS Orderbook.

  • waheid

    The Chief of the Fire Department is appointed by the Mayor. The Mayor is elected. To the extent that the voters tolerate this Mayor and this Fire Chief, then the voters are responsible. One has only to consider Marion Barry, his various shenanigans, and his ability to get re-elected to understand how such behavior is allowed to continue. Democracy may be the ideal political system, but it’s far from perfect.

  • It must be christmas

    You can’t blame the chief for all the mishaps going on in this department.Sure you can hold him responsible for some,but I believe we all share some of the burden.

    What happen down the training school whether it is true or not has nothing to do with the firechief.He isn’t physically there nor is he supervising those members. Accountability should start at the head of training than work it’s way down.

    If there is any validity to the allegations of sexual harrassment at the TA,well than those responsible shall reap the consequences for their actions.

    What puzzles me about these blogs is since when some members have been sooo concerned about the fate of cadets.Any other time you can care less,but since you think this will help add a little mustard to the chief montage….you jump on the bandwagon.

    Oh and by the way if you don’t live here in the city(waheid) don’t concern yourself with its politics.Its none of your concern who gets elected if you can’t partake in the election.

    • Hoof Arted

      You’re right. Maybe he can just concern himself with politics in a place that matters…like Congress. You sure can’t.

  • It must be christmas

    Can someone fill me in on the so called retaliation of the union president. I don’t have the particulars on it,but I thought anyone could be transferred at anytime. I’ll appreciate it if one of you firehouse super sleuths can fill me in on that incident.

    • Hoof Arted

      Why don’t you find out from the JUDGE who said it was retaliation.

  • 19262007

    Democracy is the absolute worst political system around, except for all the others that have been tried.

  • Anonymous

    If you work in this city the politics of the city are your concern. ( duhhhh) I don’t know the particulars on the union president, but I’m sure the judge who ruled that the chief was retaliating is more of an expert on the subject matter than you. Oh and one more thing, when the chief tries to cover up the alleged inappropriate misconduct, then yes he shall be held responsible. Oh but let me guess he was lying, he just misspoke again. For like the 12th time

  • 19262007

    @It must be christmas,
    Assuming you’re a DC resident I suppose you don’t care about what the U.S. Congress does since you can’t partake in those elections…

    • it must be christmas

      Nah I live in Pa. with you boys


    Sorry…but I don’t assume part of the blame for anything that goes on with this petty juvenile administrator in charge….When you arrive at a firehouse and the first thing you do is open their fridge and see there’s beer in it….umm you’ve shown that YOU do know EVERYTHING that goes on and if you aren’t directly involved…your snitches will inform you….but isn’t nice how there’s these imaginary training programs for individuals like the individuals in this incident received, when 99% of the membership would be ordered to type 8000 special reports and be subjected to a disciplinary hearing, receive suspension hours and be demoted because they talked out of turn or didn’t have the proper socks on….ya feeling me Christmas or you blind to the fact that under LRBEE, there’s a HUGE & OBVIOUS disparity in who gets disciplined and who doesn’t…….yeah yeah….i know…Rubin & Schultz did the same thing, so now its time for things to be the other way around so that the .099% of King Tyrants followers get the protection they deserve….Even if its innapropriately touching FF Susan’s va#%&%…..

    If these two girls were smart…they’d sought help, if they haven’t already and have MPD conduct a separate investigation….Having Internal Affairs conducting this investigation will do what????….it will conclude whatever King Tyrant wants to have happen…In this case….nothing will come out of the IA investigation….but bet yo behind…if it was me or the 99% of the membership…we’d be hung out to dry…you know…wear a jacket at the TA like Cadillac did because the department at the time offered ZERO protection from the cold weather and that jacket says DCFD….hey…suspension hours and you get demoted…..”INNAPROPRIATELY touch Susan’s boo boo”….oh…we’ll give you the imaginary training program, so you don’t touch Susans boo boo again and we transfer you out of the TA….

    So remember…..if your at the TA and you don’t have collar brass on, wear a DCFD jacket or wear white athletic socks… prepared to lose momey from your paycheck and be demoted, but touch a female where she doesn’t and asked not to be touched…”you’ll get the special training program treatment”….what a flippin joke this place has become….maybe Alvarado and others that have been unfairly disciplined can write a special report asking if they too can take one of these training programs so they will be better prepared next time they’re involved in something childishly petty as they were….only seems fitting…right Christmas….whata good for the Goose, is good for the Gander……

    • it must be christmas

      Hook,all I have to say to your rant is, we still have a process when someone is accused of wrong doing. I’m sorry if the investigation isn’t going at your pace….no really I apologize.

      And yes more than likely they if proven to be wrong should get exactly what the guys got for cooking naked in the firehouse. The exact same punishment….to the letter of the LAW!

      And we all no what they got….transfers to good running houses….what a punishment. If you disobey an order whether its down the TA or at your none running house, you should be demoted and loose your paycheck.

      I have no sympathy for an egg head who cant or won’t follow orders and instructions.One more thing it’s not about the firechief being a tyrant as you so eloquently put it….he’s the man incharge so…you either follow his orders or get cut down.

  • Anonymous

    Trickery damn it! That’s all it is.


    And for the few ladies in this discussion bravely telling us outsiders to STFU if we aren’t allowed to vote in DC Elections….that’s an ignorant comment to begin with, especially when the Mayor of One City is still under federal investigation for the shadow campaign that in fact got him elected and was able to give jobs away to his friends….heck..he gave a job to his childhood friend Kenneth and its quite clear Kenneth couldn’t run the drive thru at MacDonalds, let alone a big city FD….

    • Anonymous

      Ummmm…..we could not begin to keep up with your ignorance….KISSES!!!

      • HOOKMAN

        Awww…you’re the best anonymous commenter….which in a way is good because if we knew who you were….there would be plenty to laugh about…your career as a fireman would just be the beginning…hugs AND kisses

        • Anonymous


      • it must be christmas

        Well anonymous we may not know who you are,but everyone knows who Hookman is and do we need to say more of his career.He gets plenty of laughs all year long!!!!! when he is here.

        • Anonymous

          Well……that’s what CLOWNS do.

  • heehaw

    Like the man said suck it up….get over yourselves he is the chief….V gray is our mayor and they aint going no where. You turned your back on him and it backfired….you got the opposite reaction.

    You don’t run the department and neither does the union…when are you gonna get that through your thick skulls. Chief change the shift and get this over with I’m tired of hearing thses wannabes complain and cry.

    Everyone else is getting a raise in the region but us hmmmm? I wonder why?. Heres a little advice stay off of social media…you can’t handle it knuckle heads.

  • it must be christmas

    Hey FOP union pres. how ya thinking about Firefighters theses days after the ignorant postings on facebook. Hey maybe you can testify at the next hearing against the firemen this time.

    You can say firemen aren’t sh@t for saying they should take their time arriving to the scene for cops.I wonder how they feel about citizens…ooopps! I already know.

    Some of you act like school kids….can’t believe some of you are on this job by the way you act. Hey Ed Smith when are you going to stop defending and making excuses for some of theses clowns.

    What was posted on facebook was irresponsible,immoral,unprofess
    ional,and down rite dirty to say the least.Your not suitable to work here…take that tired a@@ attitude and leave.A captain commented on that too…OMG!…talk about unbecoming of an officer…WOW!!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    “Hey FOP union pres. how ya thinking about Firefighters theses days after the ignorant postings on facebook. Hey maybe you can testify at the next hearing against the firemen this time”.

    His head is stuck too far up his @$$ to see what’s really going on.