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Read report that DC officials told one reporter did not exist. Consultant describes fleet in critical state.


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Read entire consultant's report on fleet management

As described in the video above by WTTG-TV/Fox 5 reporter Paul Wagner, there was a new adventure in public/press relations in the Nation's Capital in recent days. During multiple calls to those in charge of dealing with reporters, Wagner says he was told this consultant's report on the state of the DC Fire & EMS Department's fleet did not exist. Of course only a few hours after that claim, The Washington Post described the results of that report in detail. Here's Wagner's summary:

 A new consultant’s report is painting a very dim picture of the D.C. Fire Department’s fleet of vehicles and the way it has procured and repaired them over the years.

The report, which two city officials said didn’t exist as of Monday night, is 214 pages long and validates long-standing complaints from the firefighters union.

The report found:

- The fire departments fleet of vehicles is in "overall poor condition."

- The fleet is in a "critical state."

- The neglect spans 15 to 20 years.

- There is poor oversight by management.

The report goes on to say a software maintenance program is vastly underused, uniformed personnel should not be in charge and the entire process should be outsourced to civilian managers.

DC ambulance 27 burns 2 8-13-13

After Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe gave a presentation to the D.C. Council Tuesday morning, FOX 5 was able to briefly question him on the report.

"We told them that we expected to see the challenges they identified in the report. There were 129 recommendations,” said Ellerbe. “We are going to compare those recommendations with other reports that we’ve received, develop a matrix, and make sure all of the recommendations that necessarily fit into our department and our ability to provide service to the city, are managed and met. It's going to take time and we have some short-term challenges, long-term challenges and mid-term challenges. They gave us some short-term solutions, some mid-term solutions and some long-term solutions and we are going to see if we can get them implemented.”

Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells, who has oversight of the fire department, was given the report Monday night and called it an indictment of fleet management and maintenance.

"It shows that there is not an accountable system seeing that they are repaired, accounted for and they are replaced,” said Wells, who is a Democratic candidate for mayor. “Now I know finally the administration is starting to buy new ambulances, buying new fire trucks. I’m not convinced at all, especially after reading this report, that they have a system to now manage and maintain them and to know when they need to buy more.”

Ed Smith, President of the firefighter’s union, had only seen a summary of the report when we talked to him outside the Wilson Building.

"These are things that the union has been sounding the alarm for the last three years and it’s taken a consultant report, a considerable amount of time and three years later for these recommendations to be finally be put to paper,” he said.

Since last March, FOX 5 has documented story after story about the poor condition of the fleet, ladder trucks that failed inspection, ambulances that suddenly caught on fire and ambulances that broke down while transporting patients.

Next week, Wells will hold a hearing on the fleet and says he wants to hear how the chief plans to move forward.

And we plan on staying with this story, and will continue to ask questions and push for results.

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Comments - Add Yours


    It is time to start firiing the Liers, In the fire departments like in DC. who mis state the problems they have bought on themselves. Firefighters were  a breed of truth at one time but Politics has ruined the top sectors.  Mark

  • 19262007

    Politics has a tendency to ruin everything…

  • quietly watching for results

    Mr. Wagner,

    I thank you for your efforts in keeping this story up front but I think you need to make a public correction.

    You stated in your interview that the false numbers came from the union. They actually came from management not the union. The union pointed out the lies to city council.

  • Fire21

    At least LRB holds his own umbrella, unlike a certain other top management official who currently lives in DC. (sarcasm intended).

  • Really Disappointed

    This guy could not manage a Pee Wee Football team. Now he's gonna develope a "Matrix"….. Please!

  • John

    "Matrix," The word of a CEO who has no idea what they are doing, but are trying to look like they know what they are doing. See that all the time at the company that I work for. The CEO is very good at saying what she thinks wants to be heard, yet if you really listen to her words, she doesn't say a thing. Same with this guy it appears.

  • Scooter

    Hire an outside firm to manage the rig replacement.  I thought that is what part of the fire chief's job is to place people in positions to operate the department.  Waste money to pay fire admn then hire an outside firm to manage FD issues.  Of course since the DCFD chief don't have a clue DC may want to out source all of fire admn operations and just have the nut chief walk around since he is clueless anyhow…. Good luck DC and DCFD  Strike Da Box ! K

  • RJ in florida

    Dis it suprise anyone other than me that an "outside consultant" would recomend outside company(s) to manage the fleet?

    does the outside consultant just happen have a list of companies that can meet the city's needs and can they assure the city that they DONT have a connection to them?…LOL

  • FLFF

    Ed Smith said it best.  "It's taken 3 years to make it to paper."  In other words, another report documenting what we already knew.

    And LRB's interview was just what you'd expect.  “We are going to compare those recommendations with other reports that we’ve received, develop a matrix, and make sure all of the recommendations that necessarily fit into our department and our ability to provide service to the city, are managed and met."    This guy might not be the sharpest knife in the drawer but he sure knows how to talk without saying anything.

    To sum it up, "We're looking into looking into it."



  • Watchdogdc

    Chief Ellerbe has again been caught telling a bold face lie. This report made its way back to the Fire and EMS Department several weeks back so there was no reason to say it was not complete. The report contained all of the information everybody already knew the fllet of emergency response apparatus is in deplorable condition. The Chief and deputy Mayor are constantly touting the 30 new ambulances they are getting by the end of the year. The fact is there is not 30 new ambulances it is about 13 new ambulances and 17 refurbished ambulances that will be on their second round of running the wheels off 24 hours a day. These referb units are only buying the current administration some time to make it look like they are doing something good when in reality they are only applying band aid to deep wounds. The sooner this guy goes the better off DC will be without liarbe.

  • Anonymous

    "The neglect spans 15 to 20 years".

    Had no idea that Ellerbe's been here that long!

    • Anonymous

      While LRB might not have been the Fire Chief for the past 15-20 yrs, he deff came up through the ranks.  He has known that the shop was in bad shape and knew that apparatus needed to be spec'd out & ordered, which makes him look even worse. LRB had a chance to come into the Fire Chief's position and make this Dept. better. All he has done is manufacture crisis; has left vacancies open through out majority of his tenure, has used smoke & mirrors with apparatus orders, has allow the medic vacancies go unfilled, done everything in his power to crush moral, etc. etc. I could go on & on.  But you are right LRB hasn't been the Chief that long, but does it excuse what he has or hasn't done during his tenure? I would think not..