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Getting uglier in DC: Deputy Mayor strongly defends getting police on the burning ambulances case. Union shows picture of street sign being used as an engine heat shield.

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Kristin Fisher, WUSA-TV:

Tensions between District leaders and the local firefighters union have reached an all-time high.

Each side is now asking outside agencies to investigate the two ambulance fires that took place yesterday. 

By asking the police department to investigate an issue at the fire department, the Deputy Mayor is insinuating that he suspects either foul play or sabotage. 

He never specifically said either of those words today but he came pretty close.

The Deputy Mayor for Public Safety, Paul Quander said, “I asked for MPD to take the lead…to see if there was anything improper anything untowards that was taking place.”

Those words – the implications of sabotage – have really rubbed the rank-and-file D.C. firefighters the wrong way.

As Ed Smith, head of the local firefighter’s union says, “I think it’s slanderous.  I believe in the firefighters that serve this city 1000%.”

It’s not just the firefighters that are upset.

It’s several city council members, including the chairman of the Committee on Public Safety, Tommy Wells.

“I think that’s a very serious, veiled allegation,” said Wells.

But Deputy Mayor, Paul Quander says his reason for an MPD investigation is simple.

“How many instances are you aware of where two fire engines or two fire apparatuses have caught fire on the same day within a three hour period?  Any?  Next question.”

The fire fighters union is asking the NTSB to investigate the entire ambulance fleet. Why? Two engine fires in one day. The ambulance assigned to the presidential motorcade running out of fuel and then there’s this picture of a street sign reportedly being used to fix the engine of a D.C. ambulance.

“It was cut and put in there as a makeshift heat shield to try to keep the unit running longer and it’s an older unit.  But that’s just one example of what the firefighters are doing and dealing with on a daily basis to try to get out there and respond to these emergencies and the shoddy repairs that are being done only to be turned around and laid on our feet, the blame,” said Smith.

The investigations into both ambulance fires are still ongoing.

But in the meantime, Councilmember Wells wants Mayor Gray to come forward and take the lead on this crisis. He says this is a crisis of leadership, not a crisis of funding.


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