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DC lieutenant in charge when firefighters didn’t help dying man was focus of previous news report


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Previous coverage of this story

More DC coverage: Background checks are another priority Dennis Rubin warned Kenneth Ellerbe about

There’s a lot of news this week from the DC Fire & EMS Department. Mayor Vincent Gray today says he’s “outraged” over firefighters failing to walk across the street to help a dying man over the weekend. WTTG-TV/ Fox 5 reporter Paul Wagner has identified the officer in charge of the fire company that didn’t render aid as Lt. Kellene Davis. And on another front, because of about a dozen recent arrests, Chief Kenneth Ellerbe has ordered background checks on all 1800 uniformed employees of the department, saying those who have failed to report their arrests face possible termination.

In fact, if you Google Lt. Davis from DC’s Truck 15, you will find that veteran WRC-TV/NBC 4 reporter Pat Collins reported in May of 2012 , that Lt. Davis was herself arrested and charged with stealing 20 bales of hay from a shed in Upper Marlboro. Let me emphasis, LT. DAVIS WAS NOT CONVICTED OF A CRIME IN THIS CASE.

While Collins’ report and other reports say that Lt. Davis was place on paid leave from Truck 15 at the time of the 2012 news coverage, a Google search gives no indication of when Lt. Davis reported her arrest to the department and how this  episode was eventually resolved internally. I want to make it very clear again, that all indications from various searches and public records are that Lt. Davis was NEVER convicted of this crime. We are only relaying what is already in the public record about Lt. Davis’ previous appearance in the news.

Paul Wagner, WTTG-TV/Fox 5:

The lieutenant at the center of the controversy surrounding the death of Cecil Mills was interviewed by internal affairs Wednesday. Kellene Davis commands Truck 15 and was the officer in charge when the 77-year-old collapsed in a strip mall across the street from the fire station. Mills’ daughter, Marie, says no one from the station, located in the 1300 block of Rhode Island Avenue in Northeast D.C., would cross the street to help her father despite numerous pleas for assistance. Davis was questioned for more than an hour and a half, and when she left headquarters, FOX 5 attempted to speak with her. Instead of responding, Davis covered her face with a manila folder and climbed into the truck she commands.


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Although the fire department has said nothing about the incident, Paul Quander, the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety, said Tuesday the focus of the investigation is now on the lieutenant.

“We know we had a very new probationary employee at the facility and the first response is to ask a senior person, and we believe that was done,” said Quander. “The question now is what did that senior person say? What did that person do? Did they follow protocols and procedures?”

Last Saturday afternoon, Marie Mills was with her father when he suffered a massive heart attack in front of a computer store across the street from the fire station.

DC Lt Davis

Despite numerous pleas for help, no one left the station to render first aid.

Mills was surprised to learn Lieutenant Davis has not been suspended.

“She is still riding a fire vehicle? And she wouldn’t authorize somebody? She could have came to help,” said Mills.

She also questioned the actions of the rookie firefighter who heard the cries for help.

“The rookie should have made a conscious decision as a human being,” she said. “He should have come to offer assistance. If he would have offered assistance, no matter the outcome, no matter what his job was, my family is the kind of family that would have stuck behind him.”

Cecil Mills was 77 years old and a lifelong resident of the District. He was still employed by the Department of Parks and Recreation at the time of his death.

“[Tuesday] evening I spoke with Mayor Gray,” said Mills. “He was sincere. Others who have called have not been as sincere and I appreciate how seriously he is taking this because it never should have happened.”

Ed Smith, president of the firefighters union issued a statement which reads: “This just shouldn’t have happened. We need to find out why it did occur and make sure it never happens again. On behalf of the DC Firefighters Association, I offer Mr. Mills’ family a sincere apology.”

In addition to the investigation into the actions of the members of Truck 15, the Office of Unified Communications is trying to learn why the initial dispatch sent an ambulance to the wrong quadrant of the city — Northwest D.C. instead of Northeast D.C.

So far, no one has been suspended.

DC Lt. Davis 2


Comments - Add Yours

  • sharppointy1

    I’m very curious to hear “the rest of the story” on this one. Why did they not respond? I understand the family’s frustration and anger.

  • Bill Simmons

    Another quota hire and a quota promotion.

    • Cathy K.

      Bill Simmons – I’ve been career fire department for 28 years; I’ve seen LOTS of idiotic white men get hired and promoted. Just go with “she’s an idiot” if that’s how you feel, but leave the other stuff (of which I am willing to bet a week’s pay you have no proof) out of it.

    • just Ne

      You’re an idiot.

  • PJ_Geraghty

    Ms. Mills isn’t the only one who’s astonished to hear that a firefighter or officer at the center of such a controversy is still riding a fire truck. That’s inconceivable. Suspension pending an investigation or assignment to office duty is clearly indicated.

  • BH

    Union was pretty quick to throw the Lieutenant under the buss. Wonder why that is. I’d be wary of an ineffective representation suit if I was their lawyer.

    DC’s EMS system has clearly not changed (for the better) since the USA Today story all those years ago, and has not changed (for the better) since the Rosenbaums settled their wrongful death lawsuit- a settlement made with the understanding that in exchange for no monetary penalty, DC would improve it’s EMS delivery. I don’t see how the District is not in violation of that agreement. I’d go back to court to reinstate the suit tomorrow if I was them.

  • Firewife

    Gray: “Who in the world is going to punish someone for having violating
    protocol, but you saved someone’s life in the process? I’m not buying
    that.” Who? How about your Fire Chief, Kenneth Ellerbe who did EXACTLY
    THAT when he took punitive action against a firefighter for responding to
    calls for help from a vehicle that stopped in front of a fire house
    while a live on-air news interview was in progress. The firefighter, who has
    since been DEMOTED, was charged with a HIPPA violation and PUNISHED for doing EXACTLY what the mayor now says should be done!!!


      Exacty…the great thing about this is the person who was demoted will hopefully use this as an example when it comes time for the jury to award him punitive damages…maybe he can buy a Cadillac..hehe….just another fine example of how this department does to one, but does different to another…

  • stan

    Truly a disgusting event…. I see the picture of her in this thread in her dress uniform. She is a Lieutenant with 4 stripes around the sleeve? I thought that was a deputy or assistant chief symbol.. so I am on the same page with Geoffrey Burns. Perhaps now they can get her for impersonating an officer?

  • Barney Miller

    No one is concerned with making DCFEMS the best (well not in the last three years). The concern is to cheapen what it means to be a Firefighter to in turn cheapen the wages for firefighter (Pay) so he can whittle down the fire dept. budget to bare bones operational cost. Three shifts, cheap equipment with uneducated/ low paid (no concern) employees (essentially a McDonald’s Fire Department). Would you like fries with that? I ordered a coffee. Yeah would you like fries with that? Than when this diabolical model is in play you will have no one who cares enough to come get you across the street (special order) less, in a burning building ( Royale with Cheese). I SEE THE FUTURE. Treat employees with respect, empower them, include them and they will out preform your expectations. Beat them down and they will be too afraid to act causing failure that you could never imagine. Ellerbe wants garbage men….do I pick it up (Yes or No) next house! do I pick it up next house!

  • choochoo

    the stripes on our sleeves represent years worked- I think it is 5 years per stripe in gold for officers, blue for firefighters. not all fire dept uniforms are similar in the US. I would use my real name but Ellerbe just tweeted that anyone commenting on this post will be suspended lol.

  • realityking

    officers sgt and up have white helmets- and white dress shirts- sometimes and sometimes just collar brass with insignia on a black shirt- all firefighters and officers can wear white t shirts- the stripes represent service years in 4 or 5 year increments. since Ellerbe arrived it is hard to determine rank or management/officers as he has destroyed our uniform system that ruben perfected.

    • CareerLt

      What a terrible way to do things, IMHO. How can you identify rank on the FG? White was universally reserved for Chief officers to easily stand out for identification. So now you just have to yell “CHIEF” and see who turns around? Is there any tradition left in DCFD?

  • Volunteer from Va

    More to the point, 1. Why is she even wearing a Class A uniform while on duty. 2. Why is she attending an Internal Affairs interview while on duty. 3. Why did they drive Truck 15 to the Internal Affairs interview, taking it out of service. If department policy states that she must be paid for her time at the interview ( which is absurd ), why wasn’t she replaced at the station for the time she was at Internal Affairs so that Truck 15 would still be IN SERVICE at its station available to serve its community???!!

    • Steve D.

      To answer your question, you are a volunteer, and do not understand how a paid career department works.

      • Goon

        Good Answer

  • Rob in Bama

    Another appalling situation out of DC. I am a former EMT and current Certified Volunteer FF and CPR instructor in Alabama. Four months ago my wife (9 months pregnant and also an instructor) witnessed a five car accident caused by a man driving who went in to full arrest. We pulled into a parking lot and rendered care to three patients until help arrived. The man in full arrest later died a week later, and never regain conscientiousness, but at least his family was by his side. The doctor said he would have never been converted had we not provided the basic care we did. No one forces you to become a first responder, but when you do you have a responsibility to provide care up to your level of training!

  • Old Backstep Fireman

    Maybe this is racist, but sometimes the elephant in the room needs to be questioned.
    Seems that the DCFD is appearing here too often in stories that have little to do with
    firefighting. Corruption, dishonest people in the ranks, out and out criminals,
    half-assed directives from above like having people sitting out in the street in their
    rigs at night as a very expensive town watch, Etc.
    Was it always like this back in the day before the upper echelons of the department seemingly became (dare I say) mostly Black?

    • B-more

      Yes, it is another racist remark. It has nothing to do with color. It is about picking the most qualified person for the job. Period. Something the DC government did not do. But this incident can not be blamed on him. The firefighters failed to act. It is not uncommon for citizens in the neighborhood to show up at the fire house looking for help and when they do we assist them. We have a job to do no matter who the Chief is or the turmoil in the department. This is atrocious.

  • R.J

    Watch cap with class A uniform?

    •!/dick.move.9?fref=ts Cocksure

      Youz racist!

  • David Franklin

    “she couldn’t respond to a free lunch”

    Are you kidding? If they were giving away free KFC, you’d be trampled to death.

  • 33vmuh

    I don’t blame Kellene Davis one bit. If a person died because of my incompetence, I would not want to talk about it or show my face in public. I would do exactly what she is doing: crawl under a rock, ignore the issue and hope it all goes away.

  • Izit Justme

    I wonder, when was the last Physical Fitness test the good Lieutenant completed? In the video she seems to have a hard time climbing into the firetruck.

  • Inside looking in

    For all that think these issues just started you are living in a dream land. Any person with considerable amount of time on this job would know this. This department has not been managed competently for well over 20 years. Any suggestion that it has been is an outright lie. Click the link and read. What has changed besides the characters in the article.

  • dionkraft

    someone said that the FF outside saw the person and daughter outside in distress and he went to the LT CMDR office and told here what he saw. She said get an address there and we will be right on it. The guy never came back to report that.
    She has now since retired after her suspension.

  • no Faith in final& Binding rul

    dear Mr. greymustgo,you sound like my kind of Attorney;where have you been for the last 6yrs of my life?In my dept. citizens needed aid of any sort,at any hour,hit emergency button(placarded)our double company all personel responded to the front door as if it were a structure fire.