Here is the latest news coverage on the continuing problems within the DC Fire & EMS Department. In the video above, WTTG-TV/Fox 5 reporter Paul Wagner talks with DC Council member Tommy Wells about the letter from Firefighter/Paramedic Jon Botwin on the paramedic staffing shortages Botwin believes impacted care for a little girl who died.
The article below is about Chief Kenneth Ellerbe again making a change in leadership at apparatus maintenance. You may recall earlier this year Deputy Chief John Donnelly was brought in after Chief Ellerbe pushed out Deputy Chief Wayne Branch, blaming Branch for wrong information given to the City Council and a large amount of overtime being spent at the shop. Donnelly quickly became the face of the problems at the shop, talking with reporters as new problems were discovered. Donnelly has been transferred out of the shop and busted back to battalion chief.
According to Andrea Noble at The Washington Times, Donnelly’s problems are related to those street signs being used as heat shields to repair ambulances. The article says Donnelly failed to let Ellerbe know about the problem in a timely manner after Donnelly received an email from the firefighters’ union pointing out the issue. Here are some excerpts from Noble’s article:
“Every member of [the fire department] is held to a standard of performance, and those standards are universal,” Mr. Quander said in a statement. “When situations arise where those standards are not met, our staff is held accountable. And that happens whether they are rank and file or management.”
“How many times can they wash out a deputy chief at the apparatus division before the fire chief takes accountability?” union President Ed Smith said. “I don’t know what he’s being accused of to warrant the demotion, but as far as I know John Donnelly has had a spotless career.”
D.C. Council member Tommy Wells, Ward 6 Democrat, who heads the committee that oversees the fire department, said he wouldn’t wade into personnel decisions made within the agency but praised Chief Donnelly’s handling of the massive four-alarm fire that destroyed Frager’s Hardware on Capitol Hill in June.
“I just really admired the way he managed the whole thing,” Mr. Wells said of Chief Donnelly, who served as acting chief in Chief Ellerbe’s absence.
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