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DC fire chief orders background checks – Yet another issue Rubin warned Ellerbe about

DC Ellerbe & Rubin

Did Kenneth Ellerbe even read what Dennis Rubin wrote for him?

More coverage at Firefighters Worldwide

More DC coverage: Firefighters fail to help dying man – Curt Varone’s;

Read Chief Dennis Rubin’s transition report

After about a dozen recent arrests, including a firefighter with a suspended license driving an ambulance, DC Fire & EMS Department Chief Kenneth Ellerbe has ordered background checks on all 1800 uniformed employees. The Washington Times’ Andrea Noble broke the story last night:

Many of the arrests had not been reported to the agency, as required by department policy, prompting Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe to issue a special order notifying employees they have 10 days to report any arrests or driving revocations from the last three years or face termination.

“Members shall receive this notice as information that the agency shall pursue, at the culmination of this period, an extensive criminal background check of every operational employee utilizing all legally authorized methods of review,” states the special order, issued Friday.

“Any employee who is found to have failed to report prior infractions, particularly where a citation for DUI, DWI, or an arrest of any type has occurred, shall be subject to termination,” the order states.

Once again, Kenneth Ellerbe is dealing with a problem that was brought to his attention years earlier by his predecessor Dennis Rubin. How do we know it was brought to his attention? Because it was in the transition document The Rube prepared for Ellerbe. Read Priority 5 below.

DC Transition background checks

Yes, just like problems at the maintenance shop, apparatus issues and the shortage of paramedics, all items that have worsened during the three years of the Ellerbe administration, Dennis Rubin made it clear that getting the background check issue solved should be a priority.

At this point one has to ask if Kenneth Ellerbe ever read the report Dennis Rubin left for him? Or, did the bad relationship between these two men lead Chief Ellerbe to toss it into the trash can?

Regular readers know I am not the biggest fan of the former DC chief and he can’t stand me. But as I have mentioned previously, the Rubin transition report provided a blueprint for the new chief.

What is clear from the headlines over the last year or so is that Kenneth Ellerbe had a different set of priorities for the department and seems to only address Dennis Rubin’s priorities after they make news.

It’s not just the transition report where Dennis Rubin makes it clear that background checks were a serious problem. As I mentioned last July when “DC Fire” by Dennis Rubin was reviewed by The City Paper’s Will Sommer, I thought the most useful part of the mostly self-serving book  was The Rube’s description of the various problems related to the criminal history of some of its employees. I’m guessing Chief Ellerbe didn’t read that either.

At $39 a copy, maybe I can’t blame Chief Ellerbe for not buying the book. But the transition report? No excuse. That was a freebie.

DC Fire by Dennis Rubin

Buy Dennis Rubin’s “DC Fire”. Tell The Rube, Statter sent you.


Comments - Add Yours

  • Barney Miller

    You don’t need back ground checks…Call Walt ! Your going to waste time running everyone to find out the “out of towners” (that ellerbe HATES) will come back squeaky clean (because they live good lives/ have good work ethic) AND the people who were handed jobs might be answering (a few) questions. Instead of catering to residents with this version of a jobs program let us embrace the good workers who live right ( a good employee is a good employee REGARDLESS of what color they are or where they come from). When an employer “protects” the nephew of a politician (with questionable ethics) ( for 18 months) and that nephew puts a black eye on said department, DON’T ACT SHOCKED and try to blame everyone BUT the nephew (hypothetically speaking). STOP THE BLEEDING…..

  • Ted

    Why on earth would background checks be needed for employees who enter people’s homes, are alone in an ambulance with impaired people, and have access to schedule II injectible medications? They are obviously good-hearted people, otherwise they wouldn’t have signed-up for job!

  • RubeRULED

    Rubin was such a better chief than Ellerbe ever will be. Ellerbe can’t even compare. He can’t even run a fireground. Ellebe’s whole management style is focused on one issue: get rid of the culture and race of people he didn’t like when he was just a firefighter. I hope Mayor Gray knows that Ellerbe is slowly taking away any chance he will win the next election.

  • Robert Ridgeway

    Well the bottom line is that irregardless of whether Ellerbe liked Rubin or not (or vice-versa), real professionals do things like prepare transition reports for their predecessors. This assits the new Chief in understanding the immediate issues he will be facing, and helps with the development of plans to deal eith them. I use the term ‘professional’ here because that’s exactly what it is, and that’s how the outgoing Chief conducted himself. The mark of a true professional in this type of a situation is to put the best interests of the department and it’s personnel above political bickering and personal likes and dislikes. If the incoming Chief chooses to disregard the transition document, he does so at his peril and in my mind, exhibits an unprofessional attitude in the process. To be hard-headed is one thing, but to refuse assistance when it’s being offred to you like that is just plain ignorant.

  • watchdogdc

    The background checks will catch quite a few people who have failed to follow Departmental Guidelines for reporting various items of importance. But the questions that also should be asked is how many of the recent arrested individuals have been able to stay employed by the Fire Department. I believe from the pictures I saw on the news the person with the hand gun with missing serial number was the same person that was in the video getting arrested at an IHOP out in Maryland. It also appears the Lt. involved in the incident over the weekend on Rhode Island Ave is the same person who was in the news last year for stealing items from a horse boarding farm in Upper Marlboro. I also recall statements made about the individual caught driving the ambulance without a valid driving permit has had numerous brushes with the law. It appears there is a pattern by the administration to cover for some while he attempts to tarnish the careers of others like the Chief Officers he has demoted which will soon be vindicated once there appeal process is complete. It’s time for Mayor Gray to man up and remove Chief Ellerbe. Chief Ellerbe will be the downfall of the Mayors re election bid.

  • Steve

    Not sure of the psychological profile that Chief Ellerbe would fit in to but can only relay one strange experience. While assigned to the DCFD Training Academy as the Technical Rescue Coordinator I enlisted the help of US Army Engineer Battalion from Fort Belvoir, I believe, the US Secret Service, Pepco, Fort Myer Construction and many other entities that donated thousands of dollars of labor and materials to construct the first DCFD Collapse Rescue Training Facility. It sits in the same area today as it did when I created it, although somewhat altered. Several months of work later it became slightly dismantled and dumped into after Chief Ellerbe took over command of the Training Academy from who I believe was Chief Joe Herr who shared my vision in creating it. As a lowly Lieutenant I typed a Special Report to Chief Ellerbe explaining the purpose of the pile of concrete, steel and upside down cars, and included pictures and explanations of the Fairfax Co. & Montgomery Co. USAR Team Training sites, (rubble piles). The report was written in a positive format and presented as information only.
    Never got a reply, a thank you, or even a confirmation of receipt. I believe like Dave Statter’s hunch with the Rubes report, it was simply discarded. How in the world could someone beneath me know more than me? hmmm.