Watch testimony of Chief Ellerbe at Wednesday's City Council hearing (Fire department portion of hearing begins at 1:23)
Mayor Vincent C. Gray on Wednesday offered a vote of confidence to D.C. Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe after a report detailing sexual harassment and intimidation complaints against Chief Ellerbe at his prior job in Florida.
Mr. Gray said Chief Ellerbe remains a qualified pick for the top post at the D.C. Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services based on his extensive knowledge of the agency’s duties and operations.
“I think that Chief Ellerbe has done an exceptional job as fire chief,” Mr. Gray said.
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A spokeswoman for committee chairman Phil Mendelson said he did not know about a complaint. His understanding was that there was an accusation, but never an official, formal complaint.
Mayor Vincent Gray said he has not read the story, but had only accolades for his chief, saying he has done an exceptional job.
A spokesman for the mayor said asking for personnel files is not part of the hiring process.
Fire-resistant shirts designed to prevent burn injuries when a firefighter's outer uniform fails were sitting in storage last year when five District firefighters were injured during a two-alarm blaze.
The reason the shirts were in storage rather than on firefighters? The clothing didn't have the correct D.C. Fire and Emergency Services patch, Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe testified at a hearing Wednesday. Ellerbe added that the order was placed before he started his job last January.
"There were held because of the logo and it's a polo shirt [so it’s] not a uniform shirt," Ellerbe said at a D.C. Council Judiciary Committee performance hearing.
Nearly $70,000 worth of brand-new shirts ordered by the District’s fire department have gone unused because they are adorned with the wrong emblem, fire officials testified Wednesday.
The shirts were delivered early last year. But because they are polo shirts, which Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe has said can no longer be worn as part of the uniform, and because they are embroidered with an old emblem that the District's Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department no longer uses, the shirts have sat boxed in a warehouse, fire officials admitted.
“Chief, I have asked you many times, have I not, about the truth of the polo shirts? And every time I’ve asked until this week the answer was been, ‘There are none,’” Phil Mendelson, at-large Democrat and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said during the hearing.
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