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DC firefighter crime watch update: Deputy Mayor Quander defends putting fire trucks on patrol in high crime area.


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Paul Wagner, WTTG-TV/FOX 5:

D.C.'s Deputy Mayor for Public Safety is defending the use of firefighters as crime fighters saying the positioning or "soft posting" of trucks on the street in the middle of the night is an effective tool.

Paul Quander says there have already been positive results and the anti-crime initiative will continue.

DC QUander

FOX 5 has reported twice in the last two weeks about an anti-crime initiative in the Trinidad section of the city in which firefighters have been asked to sit in their trucks on the street in the overnight hours.

Both the police and firefighters unions criticized the plan and we have gotten no clear explanation from the city on why it was being done until Friday.

For the last two weeks, Engine 10 and Truck 13 have been under orders to leave the firehouse on Florida Avenue and spend the hours between 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on the streets of Trinidad.

Until now, the specific reasons have been unclear.

"Essentially what happened, Councilmember McDuffie contacted me and invited me up to his office to talk about crime in the Trinidad area,” said Quander, the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety. “And at the time, there had been some shootings, there had been some robberies."

Quander says he then went to D.C. police and asked them to come up with a plan.

"And I told them they could use any resources we had in the city,” he said.

The deputy mayor says firefighters have been used in this capacity in the recent past and the anecdotal evidence shows it works.

"There is some research that shows when there is a government presence there, it doesn't have to be a police presence, it's just a presence, that's all, it has a calming influence, and that is all we want to do, prevent and deter crime,” said Quander.

He says the firefighters are not being asked to be the police, but instead pick up a phone or radio and report what they see.

On the streets of Trinidad on Friday, most people we talked to said they thought firefighters should stick to what they have been trained to do.

"I think firefighters need to fight fires and the police need to do their jobs," said one man.

Another man said, "What good is the fire department sitting out here when they should be putting out fires, not putting out crime.”

And a woman we talked to as she left her house said, "They are very busy. I know a firefighter personally and they are very busy. They don't have time to sit out here.”

Phil Mendelson, Chairman of the D.C. Council, told us Thursday he wasn't for or against the idea.

"If the question is, ‘Do I think Fire and EMS personnel should be acting like police officers?’ No, they should not, but that doesn't mean there isn't a role sometime that a government presence can be helpful to a community,” he said.

Quander says violent crime has stopped in Trinidad since the soft postings began, and the postings will continue until further notice.

The head of the police union calls the soft postings nothing but a show, while the firefighters union called it a knee-jerk reaction to a problem that firmly lies with the police.

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Comments - Add Yours

  • Dickey

    What a joke!!! If all they need is a "government presence" then send a snow plow or parks and rec. truck to sit there and play neighborhood watch. Or better yet….actually get the police department to do it!!

  • anonymous

    "There is some research that shows when there is a government presence there, it doesn't have to be a police presence, it's just a presence, that's all, it has a calming influence, and that is all we want to do, prevent and deter crime,” said Quander.

    So when do we start posting DDOT, DCWater, DPW etc? Better yet, when does Quander start sitting on a corner in Trinidad in a marked DC Government car. Our firefighters, especially the ones at a firehouse that is historically one of the busiest, if not the busiest, in the nation, have much better things to do that try to act like the poilce.


    Further, this will nothing but erode the public trust in the Fire department. For better or worse, some parts of the general public have a distrust for, and animosity towards, the police. Historically though, the Fire Department has not suffered from the same animosity, allowing fire and EMS personnel to more easily and safely acces emergencies even in areas where a police presence might not be welcome. If Quander continues to have the Fire Department soft post, the public could easily, and rightly, begin to see the Fire Department in some neighborhoods ad an extension of the police department. And if the Fire Department looses the trust of the neighborhoods in which they respond, we not only put them in danger, but we put the community in which they respond in danger as well.



  • Another Dave

    Dave wasn't there recently a fire in their first due area where the Engine and Truck ended up being second due on the call because of the "soft posting". Maybe it 4th and Morse. So now taking units out of there 1st due to baby sit street corners while other units are covering.

    Personally I think their is some kind of retaliation by the city/chief for some reason.

  • Freddo44

    The Logan Airport Fire Department in Boston uses their fireboat to do security patrols on a regular basis

    • AArdvark

      I'm sure that a fire boat riding around in a harbor is a little different then parking a firetuck in the middle of the ghetto.

  • Volunteer for life

    Move city hall to that neighborhood .

  • 19262007

    Phil is quite the tower of jello.

  • Fire21

    "Essentially what happened, Councilmember McDuffie contacted me and invited me up to his office to talk about crime in the Trinidad area,” said Quander, the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety. “And at the time, there had been some shootings, there had been some robberies."

    So they're putting untrained unarmed firefighters out there on the streets where they might encounter who knows what, and they're doing it during peak crime hours.  Do they supply the firefighters with bullet-proof vests?  People get shot all the time while in their vehicles!

    There's a reason that police are called law enforcement officers, and firefighters are called firefighters.  Wonder if Quander will offer police officers to assist with firefighting duties with no training or protective equipment?

  • oh really

    I personally donot agree with the soft post initiative that a certain company or companies have to sit watch for. I'm not concern about them missing a first due fire or what have you, but the concern lies with how we will be look upon by the populous.

    We have enjoyed for many years the perception of being helpers in the community except for decades of the 50's and 60's (civil rights era). Detering crime is a staple, job, and obligation of the police department not the fire department.

    I'm not sure why the word retaliation keep getting thrown around because I though what's going is status quo. Get back, retaliation, for the good of the department or what ever you want to call it has been part of this department since I've been on. Not saying it's right, but we are making a mockery out of something that is a tradition here.

    Punishing those by way of transfers for transgressions against management is not a new concept. Ultimately I believe the initiative is a bad idea, however I don't have the luxury to reverse or make changes.This is something for the union to come out like they did for the "T" shirts, and be all over it. Come on local36, this is where we want to see you put your expertise to use, not make a fuss over frivilous decals and t shirts.


    • Anonymous

      What if the first due fire they miss is your house?

  • Mason/Dixon FFR

    I have a suggestion: Maybe Mayor Grey, his Deputy Mayors and the entire D.C. council can get together and "soft post" themselves on the most dangerous D.C. corners to provide "government prescence" and set an example for all in D.C. employees and residents.

  • cbj

    I could envision some hard-core "bangers" getting scared off by the presence of a haligan-weilding truckie…sure. That's like bringing a knife to a gun fight. REALLY? Isn't that just setting them up for some random ambush? DC Gov needs to REALLY open their eyes and acknowldge the problems. Soft judges and court systems that lets repeated violent offenders go free over and over again. And parents who either deny their little thugs are asswies or don't parent at all. Are the firefighters allowed to carry while on duty? You are asking them to play the odds as sitting ducks! Some victim of crime comes running to the ladder truck on post looking for safe refuge while somejacked-up violent ass wipe is in pursuit…let' s say a domestic for example, and what are they expected to do? How about a city councilhole sits parked in a reserve piece? That way the idea remains the same and an non-essential form of life is used to spare those who actually contribute something to the quality of life. Remember this: there is a lot of honor in the title "firefighter' and a great deal of public trust as well. There is little honor, and almost NO trust in the title "politician". Which goes along with very little intelligence as well. Is there ANY training required for running for office? I'm just saying is all…

  • Anonymous

    I think someone should invite Quander to their office and discuss the possibilities of using MPD to investigate automatic alarms and take "Alpha" transports during the hours of 10pm and 2am. Heck, just their presence might deter needless alarms. If they witness something serious or legitimate, they can "pick up a phone or radio" and report it. It might just have "a calming influence" on the frequent fliers. After all, research has shown it doesn't have to be a fire dept. presence, just a government presence.


    This entire administration is like having front row seats at Comedy Central.


    • Mark too

      I gotta disagree.  Comedy Central has much better programming.

  • Mike Mal

    I see there is no mention of the added fatigue on members due to lack of sleep.  For how busy the members of E-10 & T-13 are, they should be getting what little sleep they can over night, not doing the cops' jobs.  And I'm sure that once some part of the engine pump fails due to freezing up, the blame will be put on the firefighters.

  • http://html retired f/f

    hell, the supid officials of the dc government will do anything to cover their butts in order to  get re elected // it won't be long till bullets will be flying into the cabs and tillers of their already fractured units and a firefighter is slain /// then the DC government will deny death benefits because it was not in the line of duty // why don't they activate the dc national guard // they are already military police


    Oh Really…i see 98% of your post as positive, but have to disagree with beng ok with missing a first box…i know you meant know harm, but this soft posting BS and a company not being first due to their own 1st due, could mean alot…Someone hanging out a window be pulled out by the first due company versus a 2nd due Co might mean the difference between lfe & death or life & severely burned…

    However, this POS is on a mission and noway could he post up in a high crime neighborhood because from what I’m told..she’s too busy spying on ambulances at the hospital or on the scene…

    Dave..I’d love to watch this video, but the weak soft voice of PQ is irritating…

    Disclaimer: this opinion is mine and probably the same as many others, but in noway shape or form, is this reflective of my employer or government….If it was I’d say what a marvelous job they’re doing, but they’re not…they couldn’t lead 3 rats & a mouse to a block of cheddar cheese…Sharp Cheddar to be exaxt!!!

  • RJ in florida

    I have to agree with those who say soft postings needleddly expose FF's to harm and at its base it appears to be politically motivated. There are a thousand "what iff's" that can be said but the greatest what if would be "what if they were doing what they were trained to do?" The first FF injured or giod forbid killed at the hands of this plan will no doubt be talked about as a hero by the very people who put them in harms way BUT I would not want not one elected offical or LRB to utter one word over the body in death BECAUSE you didnt care enough about them in life.

    Annomous made another good point. For some time the fire department has been "off limits" by combatents and that has been a long earned trust that has not been broken too many times by anyone sane and understanding that the FD treats everyone without bias and "soft posting" erodes that completely BECAUSE the bad guys know why they are there and will simply move the crime somewhere else or "ignore the peach" and treat the FF's as fair game….this is gonna get somebody hurt and the blood will be on the hands of the elected 


    • RJ in florida

      sorry about the typos

  • anonymous

    So DCFD is soft posting in Trinidad because MPD does not have enough officers to deter crime?

    I guess next time DCFD runs out of transport units because the call volume is so high they can just call for an MPD cruiser to transport the patient in?

  • TLynch

    Oh Really: since "soft posting" only started when the petty tyrant came back; I guess you have been on for about 3yrs. How is it that you know so much about the fire dept. in the 50's and 60's ? 

    More likely; you are another of liarbees trolls. it won't help you get promoted.

    Oh yeah, Mendelson is a spineless idiot. 

  • WFDT

    So how fresh are these guys going to be when they run a house fire at 3am?

  • Oldman1

     DC's politicians are as messed up as the ones running our country from there.

  • truthwhole

    Military fire departments serve as the backup to the base military police forces. Public safety officers have been serving Springvale California for years and years. Its a big world out there.


    The real problem is the firemen sleeping in the fire stations at night. That is a quaint concept from the 1800s that has to go. Waiting three minutes for everyone to get out of bed for calls is totally unacceptable. The numbers of fires is way down. Big changes are coming for the fire services. Historians will say "they snored themselves into oblivion".

    • pumpertrash

      3 minutes to get out the door? I'm not from DCFD, but I know at my job our turnout time at night is still in the area of 1 minute, give or take a few seconds. Besides, in most urban firehouses, they are going out the door multiple times a night. We aren't sleeping, maybe we are getting a 45 minute nap in the bunks at night, but not much more than that at a time, if we're lucky.


      Study harder, maybe you can hit the test next time around.

  • Former Chief

    Oh I think some of you are over reacting (Sarcasm, tongue planted firmly in cheek before anyone thinks I'm serious).  The Nation's Capitol, Homeland Security, emergency vehicles used in terrorist attacks.  What could possibly go wrong?

  • Mick Mayers

    While I am against the use of firefighters for this purpose, my guess is that some of the logic goes back to some of the approaches taken in New York in relation to crime deterrence. There, they fixed up properties, removed graffiti, had an increased police presence, and any number of things to "take permission" from the criminals to conduct petty crimes, which then resulted in a downturn in serious crime.  However, if the crime in those areas is that bad, I guess my question is why not utilize actual police in the area? Or if it is that bad, maybe an armed militia? I'm thinking with the amount of homeland security money that got thrown at DC post-9/11, why isn't that money being used on, say, increasing security?  After all, if a terrorist sees an actual law enforcement representative on the streets, they will likely be less apt to commit an act of terror (unless they are suicidal, not that this is out of the question). The cops don't agree with it, the firefighters don't agree with it, and the public is understandably skeptical.  Sounds a lot like punishing firefighters to me…

  • cbj

    3 minutes? Really? Prove it. I have proudly served this profession for 35 years, many while working 24, 36, 48 hour and longer shifts while most of those who THINK they know "the whole truth' work 8, and usually home every night in their own bed, and home for every holiday. Sounds like one of those trusted politicians speaking. I have NEVER seen a 3 minute tun-out…never. Military departments, at least the one's I have worked along side work 48 and even 72 hour shifts so they sleep at the station as well. PSO's are the worst possible idea ever

  • cbj

    I took the bait, although I tried to resist. I gotta go back to the "truth" comments. So how does this Cally town compare to DC? You got me twisted now so I am anxious to hear. What do  do you base this "success" story on? I find it interesting when I hear of the fires being down. Which to bean counters equates to less need for "firemen". It should follow that when crime is down we should need less police. Yet the argument usually goes that to keep crime down we need even more police. Before you think I am anti-police, let me explain my irrational thought process. You see "crime" can be measured in many ways, much the same as "fires" can be. Are we talking violent crime? Felonies?Is the actual need for police down? Are there fewer over-all 'calls"? I bet not. Fire department response is far greater than before. We have become trained and competent in performing a variety of emergency and yes, even "service" related calls. Perhaps the number of large dollar loss fires are down, and even actual structure fires are down. Wasn't this the goal in the first place? We have ade significant progress in our ability to report fires faster over the years. We have made significant improvement over our ability to confine and control fires through the years through better training and equipment. Yet it seems that isn't considered and is actually used against us. It's all a cylce. Modern construction is making structural fires far more dangerous to us and the public. Not to mention the rapid growth and spread of fire. So it stands to reason (at least to me) that the idea of half your fire department having to attend to a domestic dispute or a vehicle stop before they get to a fire, shange out of their Kevlar vest, secure the firearm and then don the second superman costume is not in the best interest of the customer who is quickly losing very thing they have. Or wait…do they stay and finish the domestic dispute call? I don't understand how it works. I do know that most of those great ideas actually end up costing far more than ay projected savings once it was found it just didn't work too well. I wonder if when I go to the bank tomorrow if the CEO, or the loan officer is doubling as the teller. Your right there IS a whole big world out there. I invite you to ride with DC police for a few shifts, then with the DCFD.

  • cbj

    I appologize too for the many typo's. Over the years in this business I have had some injuries that caused nerve damage to my mishapen sausage-like digits. Hope you all can read it.

  • Anonymous

    It takes us 60 seconds to get out the door, not 3 minutes. Fires maybe down where you're from, but we still do plenty here. T3 had its windows shot out last week, as well as engine 15s crew being shot at. All of which the dept has tried to cover up, and keep the truth from the media. These shootin incidents didn't happen until after the news aired about the soft postings in Trinidad. Yeah you guys on the military base patrolling is in no way even close to sitting in a neighborhood where bodies are dropped on a regular. For this idiot to purposely place members in harms way shows how they really feel about us. I wouldn't piss on any of those bastards if they were on fire, and damn sure wouldn't risk my life to save them on their property if it came down to it. It's clear you don't value my life or my co workers 

  • JustSayin’

    Well, there is a bright-side.

    Once fire apparatus begin to be ordered, they can be spec'ed for this new mission.

    Bullet resistant glass and metal siding, special seats, upgraded HVAC and a coffee maker.

  • pumpertrash

    We've been posting firefighters in neigbhorhoods for hundreds of years, its called the firehouse. Keep them there. My firehouse in a crime ridden neighborhood of a struggling rust belt city has had so much crime happen in front of it. We've watched assaults, shootings, robberies, rampant prostitution, etc. We call it in buy no one is deterred by our presence.  No one cares about the firemen, we're just like lamp posts or park benches, a piece of the urban landscape.

    This whole thing is a waste of time, diesel, and wear on the trucks and firemen.

  • realtalk

    DCFD Troll Trivia Time!!!!

    Q: Does anyone out there know what Quander did before he was the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety?

    A: He worked for CSOSA as a crusader for hiring DC resident ex-offenders by any means necessary I.E. pushing make using criminal history unlawful in hiring processes, "resident" quotas for city businesses, agencies, contractors. 

    Imagine that.

    What is so laughable about all of the resistance to lrb, gray, and quander is that there is no one in this fight with the killer instinct to get  the right message across.

    All you have to do is keep hammering their records. These guys have built records of dogcrap for themselves for years, but every time something new happens they put on a suit and get softballs from the media.

    Wagner- Be a real investigative reporter:


    Do it in a 5 minute piece. It would  be your swan song.

    Dave: It has all been in the news right?




  • Hydro Engineer

    Just call in a 10-99 after 5 mins for Firemans safety. Once the police show up say "you got this?" and head back to Quarters!!!! Very Simple


  • cladcromwell

    Its 10-33 Michael

  • Hydro Engineer

    Its alcohol induced typing :)


    • oh really

      what's new

  • UseToBeDC

    When something happens and the firemen get hurt "crime fighting" they will sue the District for having them do something they are not trained to do.

    When the firemen don't do something because it's unsafe for them to "crime fight" the citizens will sue the District for having a "Government presence" that didn't help them.

    It's a loser intitiative all the way around!!

    It's the most ridiculous idea anyone in any city government has ever come up with and is not only a waste of a valuable resourse but is a gross mismanagement of a whole department.

    Here is a better solution:  HIRE MORE COPS!!
    There are geniuses in DC Government!!

  • Anonymous

    I can promise you I will not intervene if there's a crime taking place! No way!! If I wanted to be a cop, that's the application I would have filled out!  I'm not saying I saw anything, I'm not calling anything in!! I will not be called to be the eye witness to a murder because of the idiots running the dept! You can bet the house on that!

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