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The latest from DC: Battalion chief threatened with demotion over beer in firehouse incident. Plus, 'DCFD' removal at Engine 7.

Read new story on suspension of Lt. Robert Alverado for wearing banned DCFD coat at training academy

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More on proposed demotion of BC Richard Sterne

Painting of bay doors at Engine 7

Previous coverage of Chief Ellerbe

Previous coverage of beer incident

The Washington Times seems to be staying on top of many of the developments and battles within the DC Fire & EMS Department. Reporter Andrea Noble filed the story that Chief Kenneth Ellerbe has made moves to demote Battalion Chief Richard Sterne to the rank of captain over Sterne's handling of discipline in a well publicized incident involving beer left by a citizen at the quarters of Engine 9.

In short, the battalion chief reprimanded the firefighters instead of suspending them for a 24-hour shift.

According to Noble, Ellerbe wrote to Sterne on February 9:

Your failure to hold the members accountable for their receipt of the beer in violation of the Rules of Conduct brings into question your ability to exercise proper judgment in the performance of your assigned duties.

I have concluded that your actions are a detriment to effective workplace operations and have resulted in a loss of my confidence in you and belief that you cannot be relied upon in your current position.

Ellerbe declined to comment because it was a personal matter. But Sterne and his lawyer spoke to Noble:

“Our contention is there was no cause to take this action against him,” said Chief Sterne’s attorney, James Pressler. “He exercised really sound judgment. Apparently, for whatever reason, the fire chief thought there should be some more discipline.”

“I’ve been making life-and-death kind of decisions for thousands of incidents, and no one has ever doubted my judgment before,” he (Sterne) said.

The beer incident made news last September when Chief Ellerbe says he visited Engine 9 and happened to find two 12-packs of beer in the refrigerator. The chief shut down the fire station and ordered testing of all the firefighters to determine if any alcohol had been consumed. The beer had been a thank you gift from a citizen.

Make sure you read Noble's story for more background on the incident.

This follows a short story with a bunch of pictures on Friday by Matthew Cella at The Washington Times. The pictures show a painter covering up the letters on the two bay doors at Engine 7 on Half Street, SW. The letters on one door were "D" and "C". The second door had the letters "F" and "D". Put them together and you have an acronym that has been banned by Chief Ellerbe.

Click here for the story and the pictures.

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