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The quiet in DC broke over the weekend with the naming of former Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department Chief Eugene Jones as the assistant chief of operations for the DC Fire & EMS Department. Andrea Noble of The Washington Times looks into this appointment by Chief Kenneth Ellerbe. But first an update on the state of the department's fleet.
The beleaguered D.C. fire department has made strides to correct deficiencies that led to a series of failures this past year, including slow responses to emergencies and broken equipment on ambulances, an outside consultant has found.
A summary of the report obtained by The Washington Post credits the department with purchasing more ambulances and hiring a civilian with expertise in fleet management.
But the report says improvements are still needed in a number of areas. The fleet division, where the greatest progress has been made, remains “understaffed and improperly utilized,” the consultant found, according to a summary obtained by The Washington Post.
Mr. Jones led the Prince George’s County department from early 2009 — returning to the department after retiring as a major with 25 years of service — through December 2010 when incoming County Executive Rushern L. Baker III opted to replace him. But in the short time he headed the department, Mr. Jones routinely found his policies and cost-cutting measures the target of union scrutiny.
“While Eugene Jones served as chief of the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department, we endured many challenges under his leadership,” said Andrew Pantelis, president of the Prince George’s County Professional Fire Fighters and Paramedics Association. “In his short tenure, we witnessed a significant reduction in staffing which resulted in station closures, increased response times and dangerous work practices.”
While Mr. (IAFF Local 36 president Ed) Smith said he was not familiar with allegations made by the county union about Mr. Jones, he questioned the decision to hire from outside the city and the department.
“It’s just strange because when the confirmation hearings were held for Ellerbe, the city was all about hiring from within. It seems a little hypocritical to me that with One City-One Hire, that they went outside,” Mr. Smith said, referring to a program promoted by Mayor Vincent C. Gray to encourage employers to hire D.C. residents.
Public records indicate Mr. Jones lives in Beltsville and has registered his consulting business, Systems Emergency Preparedness Consultants, there. D.C. officials did not respond for comment about whether Mr. Jones would move into the District as a condition of his employment.