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DC update: TV station shows Chief Ellerbe that many big cities are able to inspect ladder trucks & pumpers.

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Previous coverage of this story here & here

Jay Korff, WJLA-TV/ABC 7:

Just days after D.C. Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe admitted to big problems with DCFEMS equipment, our team did some digging to see if this kind of neglect common in other cities.

According to internal documents obtained by the ABC7 I-Team, only five of the District Fire Department’s 26 ladder trucks have passed a national recognized safety test – and none of the agency’s 53 pumper trucks have been tested since 2010.

This means that when District ladder and pumper trucks respond to an emergency, the community cannot be assured that the equipment will work properly, according to the agency’s own records.

These vehicles are supposed to be tested annually to ensure that the ladder can hold weight and the pumper’s pressure control system will function. But based on internal documents, many of the ladder trucks that failed the test were put right back on the streets and haven’t been re-tested in years.

DC apparatus issues

Local 36 official Dabney Hudson says this lack of oversight is putting both members and citizens at risk.

“There's no reason we should be in a situation where a vehicle that we know failed a test is being used everyday," she says. "It wouldn't happen in the majority of the jurisdictions, and it shouldn't happen in the District of Columbia."

We found this ladder truck at the department’s repair shop that had its parts literally held together by tape. It failed the test back in August, but fire officials say it remains in service.

Last week, our own Bruce DePuyt confronted Chief Kenneth Ellerbe on NewsTalk.

DePuyt: "How many of the ladder trucks are certified as safe?"
Chief Ellerbe: "Yesterday, there were three out of 26. Today, there are five."
DePuyt: "Those are terrible numbers."

Chief Ellerbe insists his is not the only department facing this issue, because these tests take both time and money:

"This is not isolated in Washington D.C.," he insists. "This is an industry-wide issue."

But after contacting similar-sized agencies, we found the opposite to be true. Fire departments from across the country told us that all their pumper and ladder trucks are safety-certified.

Only in Atlanta did we find a few uncertified ladder trucks. But all the agencies say any truck not up to spec is taken out of service – which does not seem to be the policy in the nation’s capital.

“Let's fix them and let's give everybody the peace of mind that they deserve when they dial 911 and have an emergency," says Dabney Hudson.

In an email from DCFEMS spokesperson Tim Wilson, he states:

The Department has conducted additional testing of its pumpers to ensure the accuracy of gauges, capacity ratings and pressure control systems. However, these tests have not been performed since 2010. Going forward, the Department will implement annual pump testing to make sure the operability of its pumpers are kept up each year.

There are 4 ladder trucks that have been certified and are currently in service. One is not in service. The total comes out to 5.

Going forward, the Department will implement a plan to test one or two ladder trucks per month to make sure their certification status is updated annually.

ABC7 had figures sent in from various fire departments across the country to compare with D.C. The first number is the amount of pumper trucks that have passed the safety test out of the total number of pumper trucks. The second number is the number of ladder trucks that passed out of the total number of ladder trucks.

Columbus: 52/52, 22/22

Nashville: 51/51, 18/18

Seattle: 43/43, 14/14

Phoenix: 85/85, 20/20

Indianapolis: 58/58, 29/29

Atlanta: 37/37, 16/20

Other than a few ladder trucks that didn’t pass the test in Atlanta, everyone is right up to code.

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Comments - Add Yours

  • anonymous

    Wait one second, he keeps testifying in front of council saying he inherited this probem.  The report shows that the last time all of the apparatus was tested was 3 years ago, when the prior fire chief was in office!  LIARbe is at it again…

  • anonymous

    One of the local news stations reported months ago about the ladder trucks not being tested.  At that point they had only had about two tested, and LRB said they were working on getting the rest tested.  So, even after that report and LRB stating they would get them tested, they have not done so.  More LRB incompetence.  

  • anonymous

    Gotta love the tape holding the truck together.  That is reminiscient of the DCFD from the 90's.  That is unacceptable as LRB was here in the 90's and knows how it was, yet he allows the department to decline back to those levels.  

  • the ear

    Let the lies and coverups continue.This poor excuse for as leader continues with his dismantling of DCFD. How long do the members and the public have to put up with this incompetence.

    Gray ou are an idiot for letting him continue his antics.

  • WTF

    Astonishing this man still leads the DC Fire Dept.  What is the point of oversight meetings and committees that can't do anything when the dept they are overseeing is in shambles because of its leader.  Lies after lies under oath and nothing is  done.  A rank and file stretched thin and given broken and unsafe equipment to work with.  A city with a huge budget surplus and this is the condition of the Fire Dept. What and embarrasment to the fire service this guy is, he does not deserve the right to lead any fire dept!!!   

  • Fire21

    I assume the citizens of DC are seeing the same reports that we see here on Statter911.  Are they not paying attention, or are they trying to speak up and it is just typical government where the peoples' voice means nothing?  When are DC officials going to realize that LRB and his regime aren't able to speak the truth?  When will they realize that THEY might be held responsible for deaths and destruction, because they "knew or should have known" that the DCFEMS administration is totally incompetent?  I don't even live there, and I'm getting angrier by the day at the situation!

  • Dirk Diggler

    Shocker… This just fly’s in the FACE of anything remotely related to leadership, of any kind. This is without- the most blatant disregard for the Safety of the MEMEBERS and the Citizens of the District. The (Fire Chief) should be removed from his position for lying under oath and gross negligence, for his lack of no performance. Frankly, I think you Sir are a piece of shit and if I see u on the street, will remind you of such! We are tired of showing up to work, wondering if the Aerial we climb, is going to fail or if the Attack line, is going to be empty, because the PUMP is not working. Maybe, I will just stand outside, with a mask problem, with all the other Shining Stars

  • 1dctaxpayer

    The previous administration did annual testing, so how is he going to pass that one off? For the past three years the only thing this guy has been focused on is changing our shift. I seriously hope he does because I for one will love being a part of the class action discrimination law suit that will be filed. O and let’s see how many medics are left as well.

  • JustSayin’

    HEY, Wait a Minute.!!!

    Just give Souper Man the Time and Money he need to cure the problems.!!!

    Other FD's are having trouble and their Fire Chiefs are not being fired.!!!                          

    Take Detroit for example.  That FD has a fleet of apparatus and fire station in disrepair and their Fire Chief is being left alone…


    OH…!!!!!!   Never Mind.!!!                          

    • Mark too

      There's a distinct difference between the situation in Detroit and the situation in DC.  In Detroit there is simply no money.  In DC there appears to be sufficient money to address the problems but, the fire chief is not taking the appropriate steps to address them.

  • David S.

    Who hired this idot in the first place they should be let go also. Thank god that no one has been injured that we know of from this faulty equipment . How long will this BS go on?

  • Hat trick

    You all are just a bunch of arrogant, disrespectful, non caring,fake ass wannabes.First and foremost,we have conducted testing of our equipment,Ive been down the TA to test hose several times. I can’t speak on the ladders persay.

    Your dislike for the fire chief has nothing to do with the apparatus or shortage of medics. Your strategy backfired, you thought if we run to the press with everything, maybe the mayor would get rid of him.

    Well the mayor knows the game you have played,and he’s sticking with his man period. Now you have shot your best loads,it hasn’t worked so shut the fu@k up.Chief Ellerbe, just get on with the 3-3-3 and get it over with,I’m tired of these non-professionals playing firemen. Maybe we can get the ones on this site to leave since they don’t know how to conduct themselves.

    • dave statter

      Hat Trick,

      I listened to all of the testimony at this hearing. Chief Ellerbe very clearly confirmed they haven’t been doing the required testing on ladder trucks and pumpers. To my knowledge that fact is not in dispute by anyone. The need to do such testing is also not in dispute. I am as curious as anyone why these basic safety issues haven’t been addressed during Chief Ellerbe’s administration. Does that make me an arrogant, disrespectful, non caring, fake ass wannabe? In Detroit, when the tests weren’t done firefighters were ordered by the commissioner to stay off the aerial ladders because of the potential danger. I don’t think this is a minor issue and if I were still reporting I’d be chasing after this chief or any other chief trying find out why such basic safety inspections aren’t being done at the fire department protecting the citizens and visitors in our Nation’s Capital.


    • anonymous

      Hat Trick,

      Are you really a firefighter? One would assume that if you were, you would know the difference between the testing of hose, testing of pumps, and testing of arial and ground ladders.

      Hose testing simply tests each length of hose to make sure it will not burst under the pressure for which it is rated. I do not believe anyone is disputing that hose testing does (occasionally) happen.

      Pump testing, which tests the pumps themselves to make sure that they will pump reliably at adequate pressures, and ladder testing, which tests ladders to make sure that they will support adequate loads, are both very different from hose testing. The Chief himself has admitted to council that these tests have been performed on only 5 ladder trucks and no engines since he has been Cief, despite the fact that they are supposed to be annual tests.



    Amazing under this non vetted individual, if I or any other member of the department fails to perform the most basic part of our job, we can expect to be sitting at a nearby computer typing a special report. In addition, look for disciplinary action to be taken against the individual for the most petty of things and more than likely, face a trial board for demotion, numerous suspension hours or termination……

    In the meantime, an unvetted subordinate agency head after 3 years cannot perform the basic functions of his own job, but continues to receive praise from above and can continue the I’m still trying to figure out how to be a Fire Chief thing out approach….Wonder what would happen to me or any other person if we didn’t know immediately where 11 of 13 ambulances were or didn’t check the oil in the apparatus….Can I just say, well…the apparatus still works, so we’ll take our chances and hope nothing happens….The F you can’t…Then again, the mission at hand does not include the simpliest of tasks, such performing safety checks on aerial ladders….Oh well…the city will suffer financially after this side show leaves towns and a few will be held accountable in their individual capacity… the guy says on the Mens Warehouse commercial….I garantee it!!!!.

  • UseToBeDC

    I think Detroit has a Fire Commissioner and therefore the Fire Chief is not a political appointee as in DC.

    Something the DC government might do well to explore considering all the problems over the years.(Perhaps a public safety commissioner)

    Although the DCFD could definitely use someone who would stop with the silly EMS emphasis in a town that still sees a lot of fire activity.  That would probably require someone from another department who can see things a little more objectively. 

    As to LRB I hope someone called Councilman Wells' office to make sure they saw this report.

    • Hat trick

      Now see that’s the problem, the lack of respect for EMS, it’s what’s wrong with the fire service and with DCFire.

      Around here, that is 90% of what we do here in the Nation’s Capital. If you free your mind of that dinosaur mentality that fire is everything,and EMS takes a back seat,this profession will become great again.

      Listening to your post is alarming,I was hoping that dislike for EMS was only local, but I see it’s universal with certain firemen. That attitude here in DC is festered and brought on by members not from the city.

      It is one of the true reasons why we are so divided.Local firemen don’t come to work and wish our neighbors houses burn down. Only an undignified,no soul having, no respect for the citizenry would think like that.

      When your not from a particular community you just don’t plain give a damn. It’s appauling and reprehensible to know FF’s think like that.

      • RIch Schaffer

        Oh, I see- its just kenny hiding behind a different screen name (Hat Trick)  this time.

    • Titanic

      The emphasis on ems will continue until it stops generating revenue.

         That's one of the main reasons there is no push by the top brass to end the "you call, we haul" practices that allow people to get an ambo ride for a toe that was stubbed 3 weeks ago, or insomnia, or a toothe ache, or MPD wanting you to "check out" the guy they just cuffed, or the old man who wanted to get away from his wife for a few hours(no BS, actually run this twice). When insurance/medicaid pays the bill, the top brass sees money coming in.

      Another problem is that the fire chief is a political appointee and therefore restrained by politics. There is no politician in DC that will ever say we are going to refuse tranport to any we deem to not require a transport. That would be political suicide.

         Hat Trick, sorry to break it to you, but its actually around 80% of the runs dispatched. And part of the reason its that high is because Ellerbe changed the designation of car wrecks to make them "medical". All the times you go out the door for porperty damage accidents, that is tallied under the medical column.

         Of the remaining dispatched "medical" runs, about 10-15% of those are legitimate. The other 85-90% of those so-called ems runs Do Not require an ambo, or even a trip to the ER. So to say that 80% of what we do is ems is an exageration of the truth. In reality, ems accounts for apporximately 8-12% of our total call volume.

      • Hat trick


        I feel your pain, but I think my number is pretty dead on according to our work load. You shouldn’t concern yourself with what you can’t change. I don’t worry about why someone called, sure it may seem ridiculous why they called sometimes.

        A Lot of who we run are not educated handling basic emergencies,thats why they panic and call. If running what you may deem as a bs call, and it keeps us employed, than I say let them keep calling.

        I run calls pretty regular, I may get tired from time to time, but I can here to help people no matter what!. That’s the attitude and approach I take, that’s why I always keep a good outlook of my job. I came here to work, not concern with the who or the why?.

        That’s for the DC legislature to tackle and determine who gets picked up, and who dont.

  • @ just sayin

    Detroit? Really? Kind of hard blaming a fire chief when the city filed for bankruptsy. DC is in a surplus and he gives money back. 100% his fault.  Very easy to see. Your good at this research stuff, please give use more!

  • Hollywood613

    One failure of one of those uncertified ladders and the families of the casualties will take care of the budget surplus in one fell swoop! I'm thinking it would be significantly cheaper to pay the money to have all the trucks certified and safe rather than pissing it away on a lawsuit by having a tragic and totally unnecessary loss of life! I realize the obviousness of that and I'm not even a Fire Chief! His stupidity never ceases to amaze me! Be safe down there brothers, I hope this nonsense gets resolved before we have to read an obituary!

    • anonymous

      I am no lawyer, but in addition to the families suing the city due to ladder failure, I would imagine that any firefighters injured due to failure of ladders or pumps that were knowingly kept in service despite failing tests would have adequate ground for suit against not only the city, but also civilly against Ellerbe himself. Im not sure that this would extend to ladders or pumps that were simply untested.

  • 19262007

    @ JustSayin',

    The mayor's buddy has had nothing but time, and I agree some things take longer to correct than others, and yep, it takes money too.  Good thing the city has a 2 BILLION  dollar surplus AND a 475 million dollar windfall from last year's taxes.  So what's the problem?

    • JustSayin’

      " So what's the problem?"


      It's GOT to be more than just poor leadership.

      WHO and WHY are the real questions.

      What is the REAL AGENDA.????

      The puppets in charge (Mayor and SouperMan) ares just following the script.

  • Hat trick

    @ Dave Statter,

    It’s apparent that you are bias toward this administration that is clear. I would be the first to declare that we are not where we should be as a department. We have issues and mountains to climb in order to become a first class department.

    With that being said,did you Mr.Statter challenge the last chief on his mishaps? He had several (i.e.) disparity in discipline, promotions, opportunity,and his failure or inability to handle a budget.

    Safety is paramount to me as it should be to everyone, it is a cornerstone of being efficient and in a state of readiness.I guess the point I’m making is, the rank in file didn’t go after him (rubin) because everything was fine,as long as they got to do what they wanted.

    We all can be made to look incompetent as some put it, if you capitalize on the negatives. Do you agree depending on who ask,you will get a different opinion of someone, it’s so subjective.

    There are those who don’t have room to talk,because they themselves are inadequate in their character and abilities. As you have stated, chiefs,the mayor, the union,are fair game and I don’t oppose that. In my opinion Chief Ellerbe wasn’t given a fair chance out the gate.

    That has been our issue with his detractors. By the way I’m assuming your not a firefighter, so the arrogant, disrespectful, wannabe comments wasn’t for you, unless you wanted to be rolled in that tortilla.

    • dave statter

      Did I challenge the last chief? Did you read what he wrote about me in his book? I challenged Dennis Rubin and every other chief when they provided BS as answers. Here’s some homework for you. Scroll down through this link read some of the articles and then get back to me and about what you wrote.

      The best thing that ever happened to Kenneth Ellerbe is that I had retired from reporting before he took office. I saw the downgrading of the medic units/failure to hire paramedics long before the local news got onto it. No one really understood the significance of it for a long time, including the chairman of the Judiciary Committee. I watched him ignore it when it was first brought to his attention at a council hearing (not really a criticism because most reporters, the council, administration folks and the public don’t understand how fire and EMS works). I also know the practice of downgrades was being done to a smaller degree during The Rube’s administration.

      Also, it took a while before anyone understood the importance of Rubin’s transition document. I am far from The Rube’s biggest fan (his first year was pretty good but it went downhill from there), but I have to admit he put it all out there and every one of those problems has just gotten worse because of the neglect of the current administration. Sorry, if Kenneth Ellerbe had used that as a blueprint, his two biggest issues, staffing and apparatus, would have been well on their way to being solved.

      I try not to deal with emotions, feelings and all the other crap. I am more interested in results and facts. You call that bias. I suggest you look in the mirror. I am not the one blindly supporting a chief who, under and reasonable measure or standard, isn’t getting the job done.

      Let me know when you finished your homework and see if that gives you a better understanding of who I am. Look forward to hearing from you.



      • Hat trick

        Dave I will look into what you stated. But there are issues that go deeper with DCfire that you may not have been privy to.

        For instance the reason we have to get out of the firehouse in 60 secs, is because word got back to the chief,that members were goin to do a slow down.Meaning they were gonna take their sweet time leaving and responding to emergencies.

        Hence, purposely putting the community at risk, at the expense of derailing the administration. I can give example after example of the kind nonprofessional attitude that goes on here.

        I have said before,that the chief hasn’t been perfect in his quest to ready the department.But I will never side with those who don’t genuinely care about the people we serve.

        I take my job very serious,yeah we can go on about apparatus and so forth. But there are other issues that are just important to some,that have been address by this admins.To name a few transfers,promotions,discipline,these are all relevant ingredients that make up a fine cuisine.

        In all my years I have never seen a department be so disrespected as this chief. Challenge him on the issues, yes but you don’t have carry it over board.

        One more tidbit,there are those who believe that some members who have been discipline didn’t deserve it. I can say with certainty, that under the last admin, those individual dirty deeds would have got swept under the rug.

        As I stated I will look into what you presented,meanwhile look a little closer when you seek or investigate for inquiry,you may find there’s more under the epidermis than just fat, bone, and muscle.

        • dave statter

          Give me some facts and figures if you want to sway my opinion. I don’t see any in your argument. Everyone is so concerned that Ellerbe or Rubin or some other chief might be disrespected. You know who is being direspected? The citizens.

          When you fail to make sure the apparatus is safe and properly staffed you are disrespecting the people you serve. Stop making excuses worrying about hurt feelings.

          I’ve pointed out numerous incidents where the person who undermined both of these chiefs is themselves (in different areas and different ways). Again, just deal with facts and not emotion and you will find it hard not to come to he same conclusion.

          • Hat trick

            Dave, the readiness of the department is an issue, I’m not disputing that, I’m just stating there was a concerted effort not to work with the new chief.

            Case in point. During the current chief first few months,he offered any member of the department to come down to headquarters,to talk about anything they wanted for 20 mins.

            I can tell you not more about 5 white FF’s appeared, that is a fact. Now that was long before he (the chief) had a chance to make appropriate remedies that faced the department.

            Why was that? I’ll tell you why. Those members know that chief Ellerbe doesn’t march to their drum. This department is about control. Domain at the operations level and so forth. They knew that the days of controlling where they got transferred was over.

            Also they knew their mishaps wouldn’t go by without impunity.You know make a phone call and it goes away. Dave, I’m not in denial,I can see the state of our apparatus.

            The practice of transferring a member whether it is perceived as retaliation or for the good of the department, has been a long standing tradition here at DCFD.Nothing new.

            Dave I’m just pointing out the fact that the chief never had a chance. They were going to derail his efforts no matter what. Dave this whole situation is bigger than you can fathom. I pointed out some of the reasons why some abhor the chief,it’s not really about staffing and apparatus,it is all convenient at the time.

          • dave statter

            It’s tough for chiefs all over. What does white or black really have to do with it? Do you think attacks on Jim Clack in Baltimore were any less viscious? What color was he?

            It’s tough being a chief most anywhere these days. Most chiefs these days would kill for the budget and resources available to Ellerbe. He hasn’t had to deal with the kind of budget cutting that Baltimore did. And the only other big city that I hear about not inspecting apparatus is Detroit. Should we do that comparison?

            Ellerbe’s wounds are mostly self-inficted. And yes, there are people who were against him from the start. But can really blame some of them based on how he handled things his first time around in that office?

            Sorry, not getting any sympathy from me.

          • Hat trick

            Ok, I have pointed out and stated there are some areas within the administration that needs attention or revamping. Yes we are not upto speed with replacing apparatus,or testing equipment for that matter…Did you hear me Dave?

            Do you think local 36 conducted themselves professionally throughout this ordeal.I find fault with both sides,the union has been confrontational,rogue,DISRESPECTFUL,and straight out of control.

            You have to be able to compromise (the union) that is something the echelon of the local doesn’t know how to do. I remember the days of R.Sneed he never got disrespectful towards the leadership,because he was adept at what he was doing.

            What I desire is for the admin and the local to in accord with propelling us forward in a positive direction.I want the two sides to come together and fix what’s ailing my dept.It’s Christmas, well so much for wishful thinking.

            Hat trick out

          • dave statter

            Yes I heard you and you are making excuses for a man who has been in charge of his own destiny over the last three years and tells us each time something goes wrong it was Rubin’s fault or the fault of some deputy chief he has gotten rid of. He has screwed up. Time to find someone to fix it.

            What did the union do that was disrespectful? Did Ed Smith get up there and call him names? I missed that. I would have made it the top story, I assure you. But I do recall a charge of the fire chief harassing the union president being sustained. How do you justify that?

            Be realistic in your wishes. What union leader in his right mind would embrace the policies this chief wants to implement, particularly when it comes to scheduling?


        • Sprinklerman

          How the chief is being treated is not relavent to this issue.  Testing of ladder trucks, ladders and an annual pump cert test are simply safety issues for the citizens and firefighters alike.  A department that doesn't do this testing is opening themselves up for a major problem down the road.  To have the test done, the ladder fails and the apparatus is allowed to remain is service?  Thats simply nuts and irresponsible.  The one responsible would be the person who is the chief executive, no one else.

          Engine pump certification tests can be done with some equipment that most departments should be able to get their hands on and with a little training, the department can do this testing itself.  Why this testing isn't being done given all the information that others have said here indicating that money isn't a problem, I simply can't understand why it isn't being done right away?  Why wait?

          Hat Trick, I don't have a dog in this race, and I don't know the chief, but I've been involved in fire/rescue for over 35 years including as a chief officer.  Testing of aerials and pumps isn't rocket science, and should be a part of normal operations on an annual basis.  If the apparatus fails the test it should be placed out of service till it can be repaired or replaced.  To do otherwise is irresponsible.

    • Legeros

      Not sure about the health rating of this place, but it's got a good reputation on the street. One Statter tortilla please, but with the mild salsa. And you've got a freeze case with ice cream! And one Statter on a Stick. Kid's size, however. I'm trying to cut down.

  • Snarff

    It is crazy to think that this testing isnt being done. I mean this is just the cost of doing buissness its no diffrent than getting state inspection done once a year these test/inspections have to be done. Its not like we are talking about something that is out of the ordinary this is everyday run of the mill buisness in most departments.

  • Another D.C. Fireman

    As a member of the department there are two undisputable facts that I have found out since Mr. Ellerbe took office. It makes no difference if it's right or wrong, if it's on his agenda it will get done and if it's not it won't. The second, and most dis-heartening, is that nothing will happen to him. He is untouchable and made of Teflon. 

  • 19262007

    @ hat trick,
    So you’re one of the dummies clamoring for a 33% pay cut? Why don’t you let everyone know who you are, that way you can lobby for 3-3-3 with the other dummies in a phone booth.

  • puzzled

    Hat trick,

    Perhaps you should look up the defination of arrogant.

    I'm not sure which bowel movement you came from, but I will tell you this. I don't know Elerbe, so I neither like nor dislike him. To me, it is evident that the safety and well being of his firefighters have not been a priority in his administration. The safety of the people that pay his salary, doesn't mean anything either. I do know that every Chief I have known in the last 30+ years in public service, would know however, where 6 new ambulances went. They care about the consequences of having apparatus not safe for his people and public should it fail. They care about the image of their department and city. Above all, they/we know that the Chief is the one responsible for the entire operation, regardless of how many subordinates are under us.

    If all people are calling me now,  is arrogant, then I'm making an improvement. Maintaining records of inspections, budgeting to replace worn out equipment, and knowing the condition and locations of newly purchased equipment or apparatus is the job of a Chief. That is not being arrogant. That's doing part of what you are being paid to do.

    And BTW. I like this site, and plan to stay.

  • who dat

    Any large city like DC should have money set aside each year for apparatus replacement and for a chief not to do this part of his job is appalling. They should be buying at least 4-5 engines and a ladder truck each year just to keep up. This guy is a disgrace to the fire service and should be let go. The DCFD firefighters do a great job every day and their LEADERSHIP (note how I didn't say management) should follow suit. The DCFD Chief has become his own little soap opera. He should do the right thing and step down.

  • Steve

    Since when is aerial & pump testing not being done a national trend?  Really boss?  I bet area chiefs who saw that dropped their heads when LRB played that card.  ALL surrounding departments annually test apparatus to standards set forth by NFPA (A government agency) yet here in the nations capital the home of the president and where federal laws are made it's ok to not follow said standards. 

    • An Active SDO volunteer

      The NFPA is NOT a government agency it is a Standards Development Organization mmany of its Standards are developed under the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) process.  ANSI is also Not a government agency.

  • chiefbobr

    Probably not real smart to make comments such as 'everyone is doing it' or (in this case) 'every department has that problem' when you have no idea what you're talking about.

  • Anonymous

    "Yesterday there were three. Today there are five."


    That's five out of 26 since you took office and they were done AFTER the story hit the news.


    Zero out of fifthy three pumpers…that's NONE since you took office.


    Let's not forget the ever popular "Just because they haven't been tested doesn't mean they don't work right." How would you know?


    Lets spin the big personnel wheel and see who gets demoted for you looking like an idiot this time!

  • 1dctaxpayer


    That is the book that the Liar used to read when he was the Deputy.

    This is all a game to him, but I can assure you things are about to get ugly. We will see how many of our brothers and sisters are on board with his agenda, when the time comes to stand up and unite in front of the Wilson building, and every news camera in the Metro area.

    I’m sure Mayor Re-elect Gray will love this big pimple on his ass!

  • Wayne C

    Hey Dave look out Hat trick must be a high ranking DC government offical or a high ranking officer in the Fire Dept. Because new real DC Firefighter or EMS person would be defending the Chief

  • Pipeman27

    Can we file a lawsuit naming LRB and the city govt for forcing us to work with unsafe apparatus and equipment?

    • Mark too

      Probably.  You may also be able to file grievances on the matter depend on your contract language.  An OSHA investigation could be a possible route too.

      • Anonymous

        I don't think DC recognizes OHSA regulations. But if there is a written law about the requirement of these tests, I believe a suit for Gross Negligence could be in order. Anyone out there that could dig up some info on a possible law could be a hero for the DCFD. 

        • Fire21

          Whether OSHA regs apply or not, I believe their very existance would be admissible in court as evidence of what other municipalities are ruled by (LRB knew or should have known of standards regarding apparatus testing).  If it's good for the goose, it's good for the gander.

  • UseToBeDC

    The Uniformed Fire Officers Association(UFOA) of the FDNY recently successfully sued the City of New York over apparatus replacement timetables. 

    On the grounds of the safety of members and citizens.

    It would definitely be worth looking into filing a lawsuit BEFORE something tragic happens!!!

    • Mark too

      It should be noted that in that situation, the grounds were not that of "safety".  The city was in violation of contract language that specifically set that timetable for apparatus replacement.  It wasn't a matter of not conforming with an industry standard or occupational safety regulations.

      Safety was however, part of the basis for the replacement language in the contract.

  • Hat trick

    Well Dave,

    I’ll just chock this one up as a agree to disagree. One thing for sure, you may have a lot of info and facts, but you have to actually work here to get a real feel of what goes internally.And one more to say what race has to do with here in America, was that a joke?….because I don’t get it

    • dave statter

      The history of many big city fire departments, including DCFD, up through at least the 60s, is one that is very ugly when it comes to the issue of race. And I am sure since then, at various times, all kinds of people have been discriminated against depending on who is in charge. But if I am not mistaken, over the past 40 years or so, with the exception of less than 4 years, the chief of the deparment in DC has been black.

      One thing I will agree with you on is that there were some serious problems in the disciplinary system under the Rubin administration. Racism? I don’t believe that. But when you don’t have a system that is fair and even, you can leave people with that impression. Similarly, that unevenness and impression has carried over to this administration. There have been many on this forum who have justified it in the current administration because the last one was unfair. That’s just a bullshit answer. Poor leadership in that area is just poor leadership. The correction to the ills of the previous administration is to go out of your way to have a policy that is transparent and fair to all.

      My point is when you talk about a lack of support and even hatred of Ellerbe, that doesn’t have to be because he’s black. It could very well be because he is thought of as a terrible fire chief who is vindictive in the eyes of some who work for him. I can tell you there were many firefighters in Baltimore who had an absolute extreme hatred of Jim Clack as chief. Does that make them racist against whites?

      Is everyone who vehemently hates the policies of Barack Obama a racist (though I am sure some are)? How about those who vehemently hated the policies of George Bush?

      Open your eyes to possibilities other than race and start looking at whether the leadership is competent or incompetent. The record of this administration, from what I see, points to the latter.

    • Hydro Engineer

      Hat Trick,

      I do work here and It is not a race issue. To say that means you have not been detailed around the department on different shifts talking with members. You must be talking only to your select few friends. I would say that 90%+ do not agree with "lrb's" policies. His disregard to test apparatus puts the citizens and members in danger. His disregard to Hire recruits on a regular basis to keep up with the 200+ vacancy’s puts citizens and members in danger. His disregard to look at the 2013 budget with no funding for new apparatus before he submitted it is a failure of his position.

      The Union is doing one Hell of a JOB and is on top of the Issues that affect all members of this department. The 3-3-3 fiasco that he wants to enact will be the complete down fall to his administration. On 9/11/01 we had a terrorist attack and most of the members that reported back to work lived outside the city. Had I lived in the city, I would have been more worried about getting my family OUT!!! Members that live in the city are 5 min relief members and cost the department money in overtime. Where members who live outside the city relieve early which saves the department money.

      The city is also trying to go more GREEN, yet “lrb” wants to increase our use of Fossil Fuels by increasing our travel to and from work by 30%!! That is not good for the environment. That is not good for yours or anyone’s pocket.  Members who live in the city may even be hurt more by the increase of tours of duty due to their coast of living in the city. My coast of living is much less then someone who lives in the city of DC.

      In short The Union is doing a Great JOB, “lrb” is not!! We the members have a very good repute with the citizens, that’s why we keep getting A’s on Grade the city. All your rhetoric about what happened during Rubins administration is mute now. “lrb” has been here long enough and has Failed in so many ways it is time now for real change!!!

    • balt city retired

      @ Dave,

      I’m not taking sides but I believe your math is a little off referring to racial inequities. I know for sure there were still hard core race issues up till the 80’s at DCFD.

      The fire chief may have been black there for many years…but he doesn’t run the day to day operations….its the company offs along with the BFC’s,DFC’s and AFC.

      So the fact that the leader was black at the time didn’t mean a whole lot back than…especially when most the supervisors were white. Enough about race…the effectiveness,functionality of an organization ultimately falls on the shoulders of its top brass.

      Fire apparatus not being tested, in disrepair,not being ordered is a serious issue. It creates obstacles and hinders the effectiveness of a department.

      I don’t think (hat trick) is denying there’s a problem with the above…I think he is saying these issues are being magnified…because who the current chief happens to be.

      I will say this…once you take the helm…it’s your baby…granted given some time to correct deficiencies.It’s like being a #1 draft…you don’t have long to prove what you can do.

      As another stated…I don’t have a dog in this fight either because I’m retired and not of DCFD.But I have been keeping abreast of what’s been happening there and it’s chaotic to say the least…between management and the local.

      In the end I agree with you both Dave and hat trick…the chief needs to own up to his mistakes as a leader….and the local needs to calm down…they are better than that…stay strong

      • dave statter

        As I see it, the local is the one that sounded the alarm on these issues. Isn’t that what a union is supposed to do? What union president, black, white, green, blue or yellow, would not fight this shift change? 

        What specifically has the union done that isn’t in line with what they are supposed to? I am only talking about the union’s official positions and statements. Not the view of individual firefighters.

        I won’t argue how long racism has been around. And yes, there is no doubt it still exists everywhere.

        • Hydro Engineer

          The Union must fight this shift change battle and fight it hard!!!.It puts Jobs on the line, 65 Technician spots, 49 Leiutenant positions, 16 Sergeant positions! This has nothing to do with race, it has to do with our brothers and sisters careers. The Fire department is fully funded for 4 shifts and "lrb" is deliberately not hiring to push his agenda and get himself a bonus. Did you know that if he gives mony back to the city he gets a bonus??? Hmmm??

          DC is not having a race issue, I think the members have never been so united in the fight against our chief

        • UseToBeDC

          The "Shift change" is actually a 25 percent reduction in the size of the DCFD.

          Of course it would save money any dope can see that.

          It is something that if proposed by another Fire Department or even another DC agency would be promptly dismissed and rightly so.

          But it has been painted as merely a "Shift change" and a race issue and for some reason still has legs.(Lrb is trying to make it so by allowing staffing to sink to such levels that it becomes necessary. He ain't as smart as he likes to think or have people say he is)


  • 19262007

    Dave, please, just stop, you're arguing with a mental midget…  It is entertaining, I'll give you that.

    • dave statter

      Well it’s not like I’m a mental giant.

  • 19262007

    Compared to this guy, you're a Norman Einstein hahaha.  Joe Theisman coined that one.

    • Hat trick

      When Gray wins this this election, please let me know who you are so I can laugh in your face. You think Tommy Wells gonna when a city wide election for mayor?. Whose gonna vote for him, DC firefighters from outside the metro area. We’ll see smart guy,talk to after the election

      • Anonymous

        Gray is in the race, until the Supreme Court decides Jeffrey Thompson's appeal. Then he's gone along with Thompson

      • Ward 9

        I don't know who will win the election, but I bet that Gray drops Ellerbe like a hot rock once he proves to be liability to Vinny "ain't been convicted yet" Gray's campaign.  Vince Gray is running with the message that, regardless of any investigation, he's run the city well.  No one can say that about the FEMS department, and if he can silence his critics by canning Ellerbe and promoting his new handpicked man from Beltsville, Ellerbe will be back in Sarasota enjoying his 6 figure retirement check before you know it.

  • mac


    Time to come out of retirement for a little bit.  I see Tom Brokaw do it once in a while!

  • 19262007

    Yep, Gray probably will win, and the entertainment will continue, but why wait until after the election to talk, it's fun talking right now!

  • WTF

    IMO its not a race issue in the Dept its a work ethic problem. No one likes a Sh*itbag in their house and managment is hell bent on loading all the houses with guys that don't deserve to be there or don't want to be there.  Either way it makes for a Sh*it day when you have to pick up the slack of guys that won't pull their weight around the house or on the fireground.  What makes it worse are the officers that have the same work ethic and don't push these guys to get better!!!  Race is always the card played to defend these guys and its pathetic!  Living outside the city has nothing to do with dedication to the dept or city…guys live hours away and show up 2.5-3 hours early for work and absolutly go the extra mile.  Then you have the guys that live 5 mins away that show up 5 mins to 7.  LRB has set the Dept back and has divided things based on race.  I don't care what anyone says, LRB had just as much a chance as anyone else, he caused his own problems.  I for one didn't show up to his "open door" meeting", the only outcome you would have seen was being transferred to daywork or some whole somewhere where you couldn't be heard from again!!!

    • balt city retired

      @ WTF

      Your rambling statement is divisive as any. What do you mean someone doesn’t deserve to be at a particular firehouse…you sound absurd.

      Yeah some guys come to work early, but your only telling half truths. Members who get to work extremely early come at that time because they live so far away. I don’t like BS so I had to comment on this.

      The firefighter who deserves to be there is who gets assigned there…one who doesn’t complain about doing every aspect of his job…that includes EMS.

      So if your one of those firefighters who complains about picking the lady off the floor or what have you for that run…do you deserve to be there. The fire dept is a service job…,not many have embraced that concept.

      I’m sure young man there are those who could label you in that category whether you accept it or not.Stop being divisive and adding to the pot.

      • Hydro Engineer

        balt city,

        First thing I must say is the Fire Depaertment is not a JOB it is a LIFE STYLE and if you do not live it you will always be one of those guys that do not fit in. Now with that being said our Life Style has it's moments that are not the most fun, but we must embrace the changes the system has gone to. I have embraced all aspects of what we do and you will never see me without a smile :) 3 in the afternoon or 3 in the midle of the night :)  You can complain all you want on this site or back at the Firehouse, but not on the scene of a call!!

        I do not live in the city but if you call me, you need me, weather I think you do or not, and you will get 100% from me. Where you live has nothing to do with how you treat the citizens. I have neighbors I don't care for but if they call I will help them.

        • balt city retired

          In all my years on the job, that was always A phrase that one would use to define who was a fireman and who wasn’t.

          I’ve always found it to be a matter of ones opinion. What makes a firefighter in my opinion is the following.

          1. You have to want to help people, genuinely
          2. The desire to want to be a fireman.
          3. A positive and professional attitude at all times.

          4. Desire to continue to enhance your skills and training.
          5. Show up to work,dont sandbag when it’s your detail (amb or what ever it is.) pull your weight.
          6. Desire to pass on what you have learned to junior members.
          7. If an officer lead by example,not the exception.
          8. Finally set the example. You don’t have to be an officer to be the example.

          These are the basics, although more can be added,but I found members who in line with the above,tend to be good productive members of their respective departments.

        • oh really

          Hydro its a matter of perspective,

          If you look up the definition of a firefighter I'm sure there is nothing close to saying it's a lifestyle. I'm sure there are plenty of firefighters who think it's a life style as you say, but they have the worst attitudes, not all of them. Than there are those who look at the profession as a job, which it is last time I checked, and they give it 100%. So, it is a matter of perspective who fits in and who doesn't.

  • Volunteer for life

    See Dave post about DC and the clown chief and it takes A life of its own. Dc stuff is better then Jerry Springer.

  • Watchdogdc

    With all o the back and forth of this post I feel compelled to lay out the accomplishments of Ellere since his arrival. He has failed to maintain the Fire and EMS Department in a state of readiness by failing to hire and maintain the funded number of full time employees outlined in the departments budget. He has created a hostile working enviroment for the employees which has caused many employees to seek employments elseware. He has been found guilty of retaliation against the president of the Labor Union local 36. He has submitted false and misleading data to the DC Council and blamed it on others when he is ultimately responsible. He has skewed the numbers in his own way to mislead the council about the numbers related the arson closure rate which fallen sharply sinc his arrival. Those same numbers were infact questioned by the agencies Fre Marshall who tated on camera that his numbers which showed a drastic decline were not near the skewed numbers Ellerbe was presenting. While I am speaking of skewed numbers I must also point out that the agency is using false data information as it relates to the respone times and the distance being traveled by units responding to emergencies. The sad thing about this is the agency is using this flawed data to hold members accountable for response times. Ellerbe has also been caught lying to the council while under oath. Just as recent as two weeks ago him or one of his cronies was caught lying to a local news agency when they were told the apparatus report had not been completed when in fact the agency had it for atleast a month or so when the story broke. Chief Ellerbe has been the worst Chief this Department has ever scene and will go down as such. Hopefully Local 36 is looking into filing a class action lawsuit against the City and will name Mayor Gray Deputy Mayor Quander and Chief Ellerbe specifically for purposley putting the safety of the Fire and EMS Employees at risk. There has to be a criminal element to this type of activity. The best thing is it can all be proven to be caused by the current administaration. Hopefully the Union will continue to press forward on the testing of the equipment which is paramount to providing service to the citizens. There should also be a kudos to go out the the members of the Fire and EMS Department who come to work every day to serve the citizens and visitors of the Nations Capital knowing they are being placed on unsafe equipment that can place them in grave danger at anytime due to the poor condition it is in. Inspite of how the upper management wants to portray the members it shows who really cares about the people. Its the Firefighters and EMS workers on the street not administaration. The administration is responsible for the sub standard equipment that may not only fail the personnel on it but will also fail the citizens in nee of it during an emergency.