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More DC news: Paramedic coverage in neighborhoods reduced to handle July 4th events. $12 million lawsuit over delayed New Year’s response. Fire truck breaks down on way to fire. Chief says he’s not resigning.

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Ladder truck breaks down on way to apartment fire

There has been a lot of DC Fire & EMS Department news in recent days. In the video above WTTG-TV/Fox 5 reporter Paul Wagner shows the department did not have enough paramedics available on July 4th to staff a significant number of medic units and paramedic engine companies, leaving many neighborhoods without advanced life support coverage. Wagner points out that Deputy Mayor Paul Quander had told the City Council the department would be able to provide proper coverage in the community at the same time they were dealing with hundreds of thousands of visitors enjoying Independence Day events.

Also, the same TV station reports that Truck 8 broke down in the middle of Alabama Avenue early this morning on the way to an apartment fire.

In other DC news below, Chief Kenneth Ellerbe makes it clear he isn’t going anywhere despite Councilmember Mary Cheh’s call for his resignation. Also, the family of a man who died New Year’s Day is suing the District of Columbia for $12 million (more from Curt Varone’s

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D.C. Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe says he’s not stepping down, days after a D.C. councilwoman called for him to do so.

Ellerbe has been under fire for a series of ambulance response issues in the city. A recent report by the D.C. Council’s Judiciary and Public Safety committee revealed the department has a  serious shortage of paramedics, is using outdated and incorrect  information and is exceeding its budget by millions of dollars.

That led D.C. Councilwoman Mary Cheh to call for his resignation. But Thursday, Ellerbe told News4’s Mark Segraves he’s staying in his job.

“Anybody in leadership has to expect there will be criticism,” Ellerbe said. “There may be folks who don’t see your vision. But that’s part of leadership.

“It takes courage to be in these positions, and as I told the Council when we started to unveil this plan, it’s going to take some courageous folks to get behind this, because it represents a change in the status quo.”

Ellerbe has said he wants to shift fire and EMS staffing to daylight hours. His plan would have put more paramedics on duty during the hours when most  calls come  in, but it would’ve also reduced the number of paramedics on  duty during overnight hours.

However, Ellerbe’s proposed ambulance redeployment plan has been denied by the Judiciary Committee.

Cheh’s call for Ellerbe’s resignation came in a letter to Councilman Tommy Wells, chair of the Judiciary committee. She said the committee should demand a plan from Mayor Vincent Gray that will return the District’s Fire and EMS department back to “excellence” and “prestige.”

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Mila Mirnica, WRC-TV/NBC 4:

A District man whose father died New Year’s Eve 2012 while waiting 40 minutes for an ambulance has filed a lawsuit against D.C. Fire and EMS.

Durand Ford Jr. told News4’s Shomari Stone earlier this year that his father, Durand Ford  Sr., went into cardiac arrest Jan. 1 and his family called  911 around 1 a.m. to request assistance.

That night, more than 50 firefighters called out sick, approximately 1⁄4 of the force, according to the lawsuit. It’s a number the firefighters’ union called “unusual,” though a  spokesperson denied there was a coordinated sick-out that night.

Durand Ford Jr. and his family are suing for wrongful death, survival action and punitive damages, totaling $12 million.

“Durand Ford Sr.’s ultimate death was the direct and proximate result of the grossly negligent acts and/or omissions” of the fire department, the lawsuit states.

A spokesperson for D.C. fire told Stone that the department would not comment on the lawsuit.

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Comments - Add Yours

  • 1dctaxpayer

    Gee I wonder what his plan will be, let’s see 3 3& 3
    We will have a whole platoon of firefighters and medics to backfill the other shifts.
    Well Mr. Education you are almost a shift short right now so keep on dreaming, you can’t even redeploy the single role providers. No one ,including what chiefs are left are with your agenda.
    Time to go and fail at something else.
    GO Eagles

  • Fire21

    Hey chief, it takes courage to lead, but it also takes courage to admit when you’re just not doing the job you were hired to do. If you have a plan, then expose it. Let the firefighters and public see what you have in mind. Let’s see some of that courage, instead of running from the press.

  • anonymous

    The story about the fire truck breaking down says that the incident was minor. That is not true, the incident turned out to be a working fire dispatch for a fire in an apartment building. It ended up being a smaller fire, but any working fire can become worse and the delay in getting another rig there could have been a factor if the situation turned worse.


    Why resign now for….as the great leader of FEMS once said, “things take time”….yes they do oh fearless one…you still have a year and half left to completely destroy the DC Fire Department more than you already have..great job…wear your sack coat proud Kenzin, because sadly enough…that’s about the only thing you can do right…

  • putthetapin

    Isn’t anybody paying attention?
    Just about a month ago; LRB assured the people and the Park Service that the special events would not hinder coverage of the city.
    Just last week the council reported that the department had full paramedic coverage on 16 out of 424 days. I doubt those numbers will be improving any time soon. Is this what Mr Quander considers enough paramedics?

    Maybe if some of these crack reporters would go back and review the stories they delivered w/such breathless enthusiasm; the citizens would see they have been cheated. Count Chocula and his minions have not honored their oath of office.

  • dcrevenant

    WWWWhat is this horribly dysfunctional status quo in dc fire that the mayor, deputy mayor, and fire chief keep talking up? what is their plan to address the vacancies in the dept.? Why don’t any of DC’s so called news people ask these questions? DC reporters should be ashamed of their lack of tradecraft and courage surrounding this story. All it would take to break this all open is to show the public the actual numbers behind this chiefs so called plan. Not just the reduction in force with shift change, but all of this administrations bs. Even Wells has backed off of his condemnation of lrb: MUST BE AN ELECTION YEAR?! IF EVERY INCIDENT THIS ADMINISTRATION WAS INVOLVED IN WAS TIED INTO ONE STORY, ON TV OR IN THE NEWSPAPER, IT WOULD BLOW THEIR GAME APART!!! For crying out loud, HOOKMAN is a better reporter than Paul Wagner(he has got the most heart but is falling short), Andrea Noble(who got royally punked by lrb on twitter and got real quiet and polite ever since), Mark Seagraves(who went out of his way to fuel the race card in his coverage of the no confidence vote), Mike Debonis(the wapo is a joke and has decided to sit this story out, or use its op ed board to support lrb)…the list goes on and on. Alan Suderman, arguably the best is gone. You would think the DC press corps would not be afraid of a crooked Mayor, and his crony…. A reporter that gets on tv or writes about an event still needs to ask the questions: who, what, when, where, how, why… very easy…journalism 101. If an anemic pencil pusher like Mendohlson can get LRB sweating, and lying, and dodging questions, why cant any of these reporters? I have been watching this all closely and I can tell you that LRBs game is definitely getting tighter, Gray is still out there cutting ribbons, and Paul Quander is doing much better then he was when he was working for CSOSA. If you want some insight into who the deputy mayor is looking after, google some of his prior work. The DCFEMS PIO doesn’t even have to field any questions. I have yet to see one camera crew walk up into Grimke to ask some questions. What we have is a whole cast of characters, with fishy backgrounds, who are running the nations capital, who have been completly unvetted, and unchallenged in their actions due to the social/political factors in the district.

  • Mobella


  • Mobella

    Quander is not an “honest person” Mr Wells, but he speaks eloquently… there is a difference.

  • Anonymous

    Fire truck breaks down on way to fire? Really Dave?? This is not that uncommon that it needs to make headline news. That can happen to any department at anytime. Lets stick to the real issues. I’m a union guy myself, but I’m thinking Local 36 is trying to make a mountain out of a mole hair on this one.

  • Anonymous

    They’ll have to fire him. His ego won’t let him resign.

  • Pipeman27

    LRB is a punk

  • putthetapin

    “…T16 is now the only fully functional pumper truck east of the river.”
    Armando: if you don’t know the difference between the different vehicles, you are not part of the solution. Please, just stay home and stop embarrassing yourself and your family.
    What problems did Kenny inherit? How many vacancies did we have in Dec.2011? How many paramedic vacancies did we have then? What was the average age of the fleet? What changes have been made to the budget?
    The council has fully funded this dept. all along. They have offered more money than the mayor asked for. How many chiefs have that luxury?
    Yes, Mr. Harvard has a plan. He wants to turn the clock back 25yrs. and destroy any progress made in that time.
    This will not look good on a resume.

  • 19262007

    He’s a GREAT Captain of this ship, “Easy lads, stay the course, steady as she goes…”

  • Sampson

    I am a paramedic in Indiana and have been very interested in the DCFD for a while now. I had applied about 3 years ago, but then was told they no longer hire from outside of the district due to a high school internship program. They have recently started posting paramedic positions but that is all it is no FIRE. Also they now require that you reside within the district to be eligible to keep your employment, I am a middle class person and from what I’ve found the district is either very expensive or very poor (which I’m not too fond of living in).

  • Anonymous

    Remember the quote “Never Forget” Cherry Rd 2nd due truck was closed no reserves. There was a delay in proper ventilation. Every second counts. One of the recommendations was to keep the fleet ready. Anyone says any different is ignorant. The very committee the current Chief was part of, pure negligence.

  • FMCH

    DC Needs a “Charlie LeDuff” type reporter.

  • Anonymous

    Isn’t the DFC-Fleet Maintenance responsible for the upkeep of the apparatus?

  • Harvey Glick


    Remember that LRB was the interim Fire Chief when the Cherry Road Report was released and during the Press Conference in front of the Cherry Road row house he refused to endorse the recommendations that he was a part of creating as part of that review committee. His comment was he never had a chance to review before release even though his signature is on the report.

    I am sure someone can dig that footage out of an archive and post, unfortunately I am not that computer savy!

  • Watchdogdc

    The agency was also not able to deliver what the great liar promised the National Park Service. He promised them 5 ALS units which were not present. Listening to the radio traffic from the command set up on the mall there were two or three units that were downgraded to basic units so not only were the citizens of the city cheated out of what they pay for everyday the National Park Service was told a bold face lie by the Fire Chief which is also one of his finer traits. Lets see what happens as the weather warms up the news presses will also be heating up with stories of failures within the delivery of service from the Fire Department. Stay Tuned

    • yeah yeah

      Where was the press when Chief Ruben and Schultz pulled Medic units and ambulances out the community for the Glen Beck rally. The Parmedics thats leaving so long I wouldn’t want to work with people who leave when the road gets bumpy.

      • Anonymous

        Why would the medics want to work in this city? The dept doesn’t have their back, they throw them under the bus everytime they get a chance!

  • ukfbbuff

    From Calif.

    Let’see, Ken Ellerbe, if I remember reading here previously has blamed the current problems on former Chief Dennis Rubin.

    After 2-1/2 years on the job.

    And now he’s costing the City money in the $12 million dollar lawsuit, yet the Mayor still supports him.

    The question is why? Why retain someone who is incompetent for the job?

    When the Charleston SC FD had the 2007 Sofa Super Store Fire, the former Chief resigned only after the Chief Gordon Routely Report was published. But then again the Chief and Mayor were related.

    What relationship is there between the Mayor and Ellerbe?

    • Anonymous

      Rubin cost the city millions in lawsuits also.

      • Is that you John Wayne?

        your right anonymous that’s one of the reasons he’s not here. By the way Rubin lickers, is Rubin your savior employed now?….if he was so competent he would’ve had a job as soon as he left here. Keep doing your thang chief they don’t matter….you thought they wud’ve learn by now after 100 news stories. Keep their heads ringin

  • Anonymous

    Between MD and VA, there have to be at least 1,000 EMT-trained volunteers within an hour’s drive of DC. Some of them would love to work a big event like the 4th of July. Heck, have the city print up special t-shirts for them and you will probably get even more to come down. Most of your issues will be BLS stuff anyway. Keep the DC units in the neighborhoods.

    The NPS already does this with the police coverage. I saw cars down there from agencies in MD and VA, so why not do the same with the EMS coverage?

    By the way, you also have a bunch of first-aid tents scattered around and the US Public Health Service deploys doctors and nurses, so I think the rest can be handled by MD and VA vollies.

  • Anonymous

    He can’t blame anything on the previous administration. Dave can you post the transitional report that was delivered from rubins administration to Ellerbee? If I remember correctly it documented everything that was in place before Ellerbee took over, and what needed to be addressed. Also there was a schedule that was already outlined to continue replacing apparatus. Rubin had the dept running efficiently.

  • Is that you John Wayne?

    Are you fu@king crazy anonymous, Rubin had the dept running efficiently. That’s the problem, you a@@holes thought rubin did a good job. If he did such a great job…why wasn’t he retained?. He was bad for morale and he couldn’t budget a lemonade stand.

    You fu@cks are pissed because this chief don’t play…you’re use to someone letting you run this job like a volley house. This is the first chief who brought structure and accountability to this job. Are you pissed cause you don’t have a monopoly on where you want to go.

    You got some of the citizens fooled…it’s not about apparatus or medics leaving. You want chief Ellerbe out because he puts a monkey wrench in your plan to “F up” this department like Rubin did. Yeah Rubin set this department back 10-15 yrs with his main man Shultz.

    You didn’t run to the press when rubin was here because you liked the bullsh@t, lopsided,favortism,unfair, leadership style he led. This is a new day and the department is going forward whether you’re onboard or not.Keep up the good work chief the mayors got your back.

    • Anonymous

      It’s def about apparatus and medics. This hasn’t done anything to better this dept that is fully funded I might add. He changed the patch! We’re down how many positions? How many medic units and PECs are downgraded every tour? How many citizens have died because of his inability to manage, and not just the ones who have made the news. Morale has never been this low! Medics are being forced to work another 12 hours after their shift because there aren’t enough to cover the city, but you say it’s not about medics? Yeah ok! A ladder truck broke down on the way to a working apartment fire, and ambulance breaks down on 295 with a shooting patient in the back who was CPR! It’s not about apparatus ??? Really?? Do I need to break this down for you anymore? How many wagons broke down on the Fraggers fire while operating on the fire ground. Man you sound stupid!! Yeah they got his back alright all 12 of y’all lmao!!

      • Anonymous

        Its funny… blame everyone else, say its about race, say its about the schedule…

        These items are only brought up by his supporters. Not one time has any one these negative stories in the press been about those issues. The stories have been about facts. Broken equipment that there is funds to replace but nothing is being done.

        As a FF I do not understand how you could support him. He wants to get rid of some of and have you work more. I know the older crowd like this because they will get a small raise and retire. He has the money to buy more apparatus but refuses to do so.

        I would like all of his supports to share all the positives he brought to the department.

        • Slim Shady

          Obama & LRB are like two peas in a pod. They both blame the previous administration for there short comings, are both incompetent, have never been vetted, take NOOO responsibility for anything, and know exactly what they are doing. One is destroying the country and the other is destroying the DCFD.