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Council member suggests DC Chief Ellerbe should be looking for other work. Committee rejects EMS plan. Mayor stands by chief.

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Read IAFF Local 36 press release

Read entire 29-page report

Roz Plater, WJLA-TV/ABC 7:

And Councilmember Mary Cheh says Ellerbe should probably be looking for a new job.

Frustration is building after a scathing report on the fire department’s problems and Councilmember Mary Cheh says if the fire chief can’t come up with an immediate plan, he might want to dust off his resume.

One problem after another has plagued D.C.’s ambulance service for months. Long waits, units sidelined with mechanical failures, staffing shortages.

And now a 29-page report outlines a department in disarray.

“Unless he has an immediate response that has some comprehensive plan we could have confidence in, then he should be looking for something else,” Cheh says.

Ellerbe had asked the council to sign off on a new plan that would redeploy ambulance crews to periods of peak usage, but the public safety committee voted that plan down.

“He’s got to get on top of things,” Council Chairman Phil Mendelson says. “Clearly things need to be happening.”

But Cheh says she’s running out of patience.

“We’re left with a department that is on its way down and the people of DC are not going to take that,” Cheh says. “I’m not going to take that.”

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Paul Wagner, WTTG-TV/Fox 5:

The D.C. City Council’s Judiciary Committee voted down a plan Friday by the mayor and the fire chief to re-deploy ambulances during peak demand times.

A vote that came one day after Chairman Tommy Wells released a highly critical report on the department’s staffing and resources.

The vote was four to zero with committee member Murial Bowser abstaining, telling committee Chairman Tommy Wells she needed more time to study the report.

But even with Bowser’s abstention the committee is sending a message to the full council the plan should not be approved.

Wells says he knows of no council members who are in favor of it.

Bruce Leshan, WUSA-TV:

A stinging rebuke, for DC’s embattled fire chief and allegations that none of us are safe because the fire service is so badly managed.

For months now, DC Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe has been pushing a dramatic redeployment of paramedics off the night shift and on to the day shift. A DC council committee is now telling him to forget it, voting 3-0 with one abstention to disapprove his plan.

Committee chair Tommy Wells points to a series of scary failures: an injured cop left to wait while medic units from Maryland had to scramble to pick him up; a carjacking suspect who died after the ambulance he was in stopped running.

“This is not just isolated incidents,” says Wells. “This is a pattern of ambulances not being able to transport people in need.”

The fire chief’s plan would have left the city without any advanced life support units on the street overnight.

In a 29 page report, the committee chair says the department has lost track of its own fleet, has failed to keep enough medics on staff, and cannot even explain its own redeployment plan.

“We have apparatus challenges on a daily basis,” says firefighter union chief Ed Smith. “We are short-staffed firefighter paramedics. They’re holding, forcefully holding people over their shift. So you do 24 hours, and you’re forced to do another 12 hours, against their will.”

Fire Chief Ellerbe was no where to be seen at the committee vote and his spokesman has failed to return phone calls.
Committee chair Wells says the problem is management. “This is not a problem with funding. This council has fully funded the emergency response of the city. This is about execution.”

Despite the problems, the Mayor’s office insists there will be enough medics on hand to handle any emergency on the 4th of July. 

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Comments - Add Yours

  • Anonymous

    Sounds like this clown is on his way out. Don’t forget to take your brownies with you.

  • Anonymous

    Wwwhhhhaaaattttt!!!! He is doing such a good job! How can anyone say such things, it is is all baseless……bwhahahah…….sorry, sorry. I got it under control, about time the council noticed something is wrong with this guy.

  • the ear

    LRB in case you don’t understand the city council is telling you to leave. You have managed to set the DCFD back 20 years. Pack your bags and take your puppets with you.

  • anonymous

    “Despite the problems, the Mayor’s office insists there will be enough medics on hand to handle any emergency on the 4th of July. ”

    How many of those medics will be firefighter medics working overtime?
    How many of those medics will be firefighter medics that are forcibly held over against their will for 12 additional hours after already working 24 hours.
    How many of those medics will be firefighter medics called back to work on their scheduled day off?
    And how many more firefighter medics will be forcibly held over on the 5th, 6th, and 7th because so many other medics will already be at their 36 hour cap for overtime?

  • Scooter

    about time city council wakes up and stops the bleeding… this nut should have never been hired! They got what they deserved for hiring this clown! Strike Da Box! K

  • Wheelman

    Its just gonna be that much more medics at the clinic goin off sick once they get held over. The 4th is gonna be a nightmare..

  • Anonymous

    Damn Kenny! Don’t these mere city councilmembers know you drink from a Harvard mug? How dare they expose your inability to lead? What were they thinking when they questioned one of your stupid ideas? Not to worry though. All you have to do is find some undeserving person to demote and all will be ok. Take a few minutes to figure out some way to screw over the members and harmony will return to your world.

    Looks like your down to just two key supporters now. One of which is being looked hard at by the feds. Sounds like your well on your way to shining star status. Thanks for screwing up a good thing.

  • Fire21

    Mary Cheh for Mayor!!!

    • Anonymous

      You’re a Moron!!

      • HOOKMAN

        No…you are….are you overwhelmed with the way this moron ran this department to the deepest center of the ground….please analonymous…fill us in on all the positives and leave the discipline (just for s***s & giggles) stuff ill start you off…

        We know your blind to his agenda so stop with your oohs and ahhs when someone speaks negatively about your mentor….it makes you sound like like you have a 14 day menstrual cycle….so for once…tell the 99.9% of the membership how we’re in a fog and not seeing the unique leadership style where f*****g up an entire agency still gets the approval of Uncle Vinny…all ears slim…

        • Anonymous

          My response was to the thought of Cheh for Mayor.

          Apparently you’re in the middle of YOUR 14 day menstrual cycle.

        • Anonymous

          How about YOU fill us in on what makes YOU the know all/be all on all things DC Fire related? Here I’ll start YOU off….


          How about YOU fill us in on how the First Amendment applies to YOU and ONLY YOU? Here I’ll start YOU off…


          All ears SLIM…..

  • Anonymous

    Wow lots of problems there in DC. So Sad to see a once great dept ruined by poor leadership

  • Anonymous

    Looks like the city council doesn’t think you have the best interests of the city and its residents at heart. I guess now you rank right up there with the rest of us “home grown terrorists” from So. Md., Pa., Del., and N.C.???

  • Pipeman27

    Kiss my ass on your way out the door LRB. Douchebag!!

  • Dirk Diggler

    To my Brothers & Sisters of the DCFD…

    I think, it is time for a moment of calm…

    Allow the City Council to continue and make progress for a safer CITY. This is a GREAT opportunity for us to continue – showing that we truly are a profesinal FIRE & EMS department. A department that continues to offer a high level of Service, Sacrifice & Professionalism. Against odds that continue to stack up against us, to perform on a day to day basis.

    NO longer, will the Chief or Deputy Mayor, lay these problems directly at our feet, it now appears, that the concerns placed in front of the City Council are being heard; actually they are being seen, first hand. The seeds that the CHIEF has sown are coming full circle. This is a great department, with great people thru all its ranks.

    What we need, is a Chief, a leader, who will LEAD US… A leader, without a personal agenda, an agenda, we saw two years ago. A leader, who thinks, not just of the OLD DC, but the new DC… A leader who is truly concerned, for it’s citizens, Workers (us) and the rest, plus the 17 million visitors annually. This is an opportunity for the Chief, to make it right… If not, move on!

    Start hiring, Firefighters, Paramedics etc… Start promoting to the vacant FUNDED positions ASAP… Get some apparatus ordered, yesterday…Then we can talk about the other stuff…

    Again, if I was to ask, I would say, keep the comments, to a minimum and professional to the point.

    Stay Safe DD


      Dirk…not sure I read your comment correctly…what agenda 2 years ago are you referring too.

  • Mobella

    I feel sorry for Dr Miramontes. He seems to be very capable of good leadership but was corrupted by Ellerbe. He should resign asap before he goes down with the ship. It would send a good signal to potential future employers that he cares about what he is doing. Mr Quander on the other hand has not had any idea what he is doing since he took this position. Most all of out problems are because of him too, and it should be obvious he was completely incapable of this job. I hope other tax payers understand it is important to reach out and hire professionals, not “friends” of the mayor. This fire department has been a total loser and the next chief will have his hands full digging us out.

  • ukfbbuff

    My 2 cents from California is;

    Until you find out what the “back door” relationship is between Ellerbe and the Mayor, he’ll be around like a never ending “Toe Fungus”.

    Remember the former Chief of the Charleston, S.C.FD (R.T.)on June 18th 2007 and until the late Chief Tom Carr was chosen as his replacement? He was related to the Mayor.

    Once that relationship is exposed, then, both can be sent packing.

    • DCFD

      Everyone knows, they grew up together.

  • Robert Kramer

    Pretty embarrassing when lay people on the Council are smarter than the fire chief.

  • Ol Skool 86

    PAY ATTENTION DC VOTERS…. If gray still endorses this clown that clearly means the mayor is a terrible manager as well if he thinks his Ol buddy is doing a great job..I’m speechless,unbelievable ! The writing is on the wall now….he has got to go now ! Finally I feel that city council is done with his BS…

  • DC Fire Capt

    Well said Miss C. LRB is has not been able to run this organization from day 1 and it is about time the city council makes a stand. 4 to 0 is speaking loudly.
    Recommendation for LRB’s cronies, last one out turn off the light, okay?

  • UnderWeigh

    A new chief every 2 years. Is that the DC way?


    Ellerbe said this back in April….so why is he still here….why has he not faced the slightest bit of discipline for his FAILURE to lead an agency, when he and his little minion Edward have absolutely no problems putting members on charges for petty trumped up charges that affect OUR livelihoods…they affect our families…but this INEPT IDIOT can run an agency deep into the ground and still has his childhood friend Vinny’s blessing..we know why, but both of them are not only demeaning and demoralizing the members, but doing the same to the citizens of DC….so do what you said back in April and leave…TRUST

  • Anonymous

    Remember…..This is the same Council Member who Endorsed then Mayoral Candidate Gray, then turned around and said the same thing him months later.

    This is the same Council Member who wants to have traffic cameras at stop signs.

    She’s Cuckoo for Choco Puffs!!!

  • Inside looking in

    Political grandstanding at its best. CM Wells should thank L36 and the IAFF for letting him copy off their paper in class. You really don’t think he is brighter than Councilchair Mendelson do you? The only person who can fire the Chief is the Mayor. Getting rid of the Chief is going to do what? There is an election next year. Ask Brian Lee about being an acting Chief with an election coming up. If you all think CM Wells can win the Mayoral election you must be smoking Scooby snacks. All of this is just politics if the EMS system itself isn’t going to be overhauled.

    • Mobella

      inside looking in is right. DC need to get rid of all civilians and go entirely to an all hazards department, fully staffed and fully funded and 15 additional ambulances 24/7. DC can start by looking to see what the cog counties are doing right (other than not having an idiot for fire chief)….. and we can follow them- though in the past they use to follow whatever DCFD did, now DC is so f-’d up bcs of Ellerbe we are the laughing stock.

      • Anonymous

        Been there done that……didn’t work

  • Is that you John Wayne?

    these clowns on here wud endorse a pig if it said something bad about our chief. Cheh is a joke just like the police union president….he forgot his meds….and word has it his membership aren’t to fond of him. You know the funny thing about all of this….I bet none of us can go where you all are from and get jobs like you do here. My guess is you wouldn’t be hired because you all would be kin to someone there…amongst other loopholes we would have to go through. A chief doesn’t have to play up to his membership. You set the agenda if they don’t like it than tough…deal with it.