City Desk

Jack Evans Takes On FEMS

Leave it to the D.C. Council to face down the tough issues of the day.

Councilmember Jack Evans announced today that he would be taking on a cause dear to, apparently, every D.C. fire fighter. No, this doesn't have anything to do with the hydrant issues or suspect arson investigations. This has to do with the new fire chief changing the department's logo. The chief wants to call his department "FEMS."

From a press release from Evans' office:

"The 'Fire and Emergency Services Logo Clarification Act of 2011' was co-sponsored by Councilmember [Marion] Barry and would provide that District firefighters may continue to wear the DCFD logo on their uniforms despite a controversial order from Chief Kenneth Ellerbe requiring all personnel to wear 'FEMS,' as well as to pay for certain changes to their uniforms."

Maybe one day we will come to view the Fire and Emergency Services Logo Clarification Act of 2011 as hallmark legislation. Probably not.

The new fire chief has wasted a lot of time and money with his logo change—not to mention he's given another opportunity to Examiner columnist Harry Jaffe to come off as vaguely sexist. Some fire fighters are pissed about the change.

But is this the kind of fight we want to the council to be taking up? Evans is the council's supposed budget guru. Not sure he needs to take on the role of branding expert.

Besides, one politician has endorsed the new FEMS branding: Mayor Vincent Gray. This afternoon, the mayor tweeted:

"Just had great tour at @DCFIREEMS training facility and proud that FEMS has earned high marks in fire-protection ratings"

File photo by Darrow Montgomery

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  • drez

    Good for jack.
    Wouldn't want the FEMS to have to get all violent over the matter.

  • rob

    The firemen need to worry about doing their job, and not worrying about some dam logo. Have you seen some of these firemen, just drive by a fire station, they are fat and dirty looking. Why can't our firemen look clean and professional like the other fire departments in the area.

  • gerry

    I am with you Rob... A friend who works at FEMS told me that many of the employees think the fire department is a club house and most of them live in Maryland. He also said that most of the FEMS employee's have a hard time passing their ambluance certification, now thats scary...

  • Matt

    Don't know what firehouse you see dirty firefighters at, Rob. Did you know we work 24 hour shifts, and occasionaly go to fires during that 24 hour period? Well, we don't get time to clean up afterwards. Once we pull away from the house after the fire is out, we're available for the next call. We don't have washers and dryers at the fire house. Sometimes we barely have time to put clean clothes on if we make it back to our fire hosue. Of course every job has slobs who need a good cleaning, but there may be a reason you've seen some dirty firemen.

  • Litrally

    good for evans. at least someone is standing up for these brave men and women.

    "But is this the kind of fight we want to the council to be taking up? Evans is the council's supposed budget guru. Not sure he needs to take on the role of branding expert."

    Jason - stop to think how much it will cost to rebrand every fire truck and ambulance in the city? A pretty penny indeed. makes total sense that the budget guru would keep an eye on this.

    just glad somebody is.

  • Typical DC BS

    Why would they have made the FEMS change in the first place? Doesn't this new chief have better things to improve in the department than a name EVERYONE recognizes and, on top of it, spend money that doesn't need to be spent for something so frivolous?

    Great choice to head up the fire department!

  • Common Sense

    "despite a controversial order from Chief Kenneth Ellerbe requiring all personnel to wear 'FEMS,' as well as to pay for certain changes to their uniforms."

    This is the worst part. If the city issues the uniforms, they should pay to either reissue them or sew new patches on. It's bad enough that first responders in D.C. have to shell out our own money for better quality equipment; its even worse that the city wants to force us to pay for an unnecessary change to a uniform.

  • Rick Mangus

    This city is running a deficit for Christ sake! I notice that there is no monetary figure here to do this change over, what is this guy thinking, he must of inhaled too much smoke!

  • January Capricorn

    Just print the words reversed mirror image.

  • Marty

    Rob, we focus on our job plenty. This logo may seem trivial to you, but it is deeply tied into our culture and profession which extends back to the early 1800s here in DC. 100 members of our Dept have made the ultimate sacrifice, that is to give their lives in the performance of their duties to the District and residents of this great City. Should we tarnish their memories and the Dept they loved so much to commit their lives to?

    We as a force are a) not even issued full compliments of work attire regularly due to "budgetary restraints" yet are b) paying out of our pockets for essential workwear needed to perform our job effectively. Do you see mechanics buying jumpsuits or coats? Officers buying winter jackets? Baseball players buying ballcaps? Sanitary workers buying gloves? Soldiers paying to have their patches embroidered on uniforms? Soldiers paying for their boots? We don't get uniform stipends or reimbursement here. The 'professional looking' Departments surrounding us ALL do. Maybe theres a reason for their uniformity and the non-uniformity in apparel here. And don't give me the tax deduction BS. A maximum of 30% contribution to your write-offs for workwear. Give me break! WEAK.

    We are an all-hazards Agency who take pride in all facets of our occupation. Yes there have been, is and always will be bumps and problems along the way. That is typical of any organization that grows and learns. When you call for us, we will always show up regardless of what the City deems our official title.

    But is it so wrong to take pride and ownership in our Department?

    Gerry who cares where we choose to live? I for one cannot afford to live in the District aside from Ward 8, where I am assigned to. And honestly, with what I see during my tours of duty, I will not move my family there. Not the way it currently is. If you are so concerned with where I live, how about making my wages on par with the cost of living so that I can move here and not live paycheck to paycheck?

    EMS certification is a requisite of our employment here. There are individuals that were hired before that was in place and therefore cannot be terminated due to failure to pass their EMS certifying tests. But they are not on the streets riding the Engines and Trucks, they are detailed to day work to study and pass so that they may be in compliance. They are few in numbers and are being dealt with as needed. Rest assured when you call for help, every member responding is trained and certified to a standard of care set by a certifying board that is Nationally recognized.

  • Terry Miller

    Firefighters get issued boots, uniforms, protective gear, etc. Some firefighters prefer to buy their own equipment and that is fine. But I really don't think the cost or the inconvenience is the issue.

    The issue is that traditionalist want to keep DCFD, and in addition, many object to the FEMS logo. I agree with them on the FEMS issue, because the logo doesn't inform people that this is the Fire Department, and so people might be confused.

  • Roger.

    This is for Rob and Gerry. I spent many years protecting you and "people" just like you. My son does that now. He is a proud member of the "DCFD". A name men have died honoring. Other good men and women have died so you can have the freedom to run your mouth about something you have no clue of what your talking about. Still they will be there to rescue you when you receive your in the line of duty paper cut.

    "I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it! I would rather you just said "Thank you," and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post." Col. Jessup

  • Tim

    Terry so the hundreds of dollars of my own money I spent in the training academy on T-shirts, sweat pants, winter hat, winter coat, shorts, black shoes and sneakers or face termination or disiplinary actions is an issue???