Loose Lips

Fire Proof

Mayor Vince Gray has not been shy about firing high-ranking officials when they become inconvenient. The mayor’s former chief of staff, Gerri Mason Hall, was gone after only three months, forced to take the fall for hiring little-supported-mayoral-candidate-turned-FBI-witness Sulaimon Brown. Former Department of Employment Services Director Rochelle Webb was shown the door a few months into her job after an uproar over her son getting hired by the city.

Millicent West, who played a very minor role in former Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr.’s theft of city funds, was fired as head of the city’s homeland security agency at the first sign of trouble. And Christophe Tulou was canned last year as head of the Department of the Environment for allegedly speaking out of turn about the city’s wastewater plans.

Last week, the latest department head to get the boot was Harold Pettigrew, who senior Gray administration officials say was fired for not moving fast enough to reform the Department of Small and Local Business Development.

But Gray’s tolerance for controversy or alleged ineptitude isn’t always so slight; he’ll stick with some department heads no matter how much heat they generate. Consider Fire Chief Ken Ellerbe, whose two-year tenure has been marked by steady controversies and who is likely to be the subject of intense questioning by the D.C. Council on Thursday.

Early on, Ellerbe pledged to be a “transformational” leader who would bring together a fractured fire department, improve relations with the firefighters union, and be a better community partner. But up until now, Ellerbe has made headlines for all the wrong reasons.

On Monday, the fire union voted 300 to 37 to express “no confidence” in Ellerbe, a symbolic move to protest what the union says is faulty leadership. The vote comes after a spate of high-profile mishaps by the fire department, including one incident where a police officer injured in a hit-and-run had to be transported to the hospital by an ambulance from Prince George’s County because the District had no ambulances available. After the department initially said that “the system worked,” Deputy Mayor Paul Quander released an investigation faulting seven lower-level fire department staffers.

Other recent problems include claims in media reports that fire cadets had been sexually harassed by their instructors (which Ellerbe says didn’t happen) and an arbitrator’s ruling that Ellerbe had retaliated against union president Ed Smith by unlawfully transferring him.

Ellerbe was causing PR problems even before he became chief: His past includes being accused by the American Civil Liberties Union of improper retaliation against a whistleblower as interim chief in 2000; benefitting from a bizarre arrangement first reported by the Washington Times in 2009 where he stayed on the city’s payroll even after he moved to Florida to be chief of Sarasota’s fire department; and being the subject of sexual harassment complaints in Sarasota.

It’s enough drama that some senior-level Gray administration officials have privately wondered to LL why Ellerbe has made it this far with such a controversy-averse mayor. But Gray and Ellerbe’s direct boss, Quander, have shown nothing but steadfast support for the chief. After the union vote, Quander released a statement saying he has “every confidence” in the chief.

And when Quander held a news conference a few weeks ago to announce that he was investigating why the department couldn’t provide an ambulance for the injured police officer, he made it clear he didn’t think Ellerbe was at fault: “Our citizens are well served by the men and women of this department and by this chief.”

Why is Ellerbe so well-protected? Perhaps it’s the personal connection: As Ellerbe recalls, he was only 14 years old when he first met Gray. Or maybe the mayor thinks the drama surrounding his fire chief isn’t Ellerbe’s fault.

In the view of Ellerbe’s supporters within the Gray administration, Ellerbe is the victim of union members who are irrationally opposed to his proposed shift changes. Those include shortening a firefighter’s shift from 24 hours to 12 hours, a move the chief says will make the department more efficient. But it will be disruptive to the many firefighters who live as far away as North Carolina, and Ellerbe’s allies think those firefighters are out for revenge. There’s also a largely unspoken racial aspect to the tension over Ellerbe, who is the African-American chief of a department with a history of discrimination. Outside the union hall Monday, a group of African-American current and retired firefighters held a rally to show support for Ellerbe.

And, according to his supporters, Ellerbe is also suffering from the effects of mismanagement in former Mayor Adrian Fenty’s administration, which left the department’s fleet in disarray. But recently, Ellerbe has made several missteps himself regarding the state of the department’s fleet.

Last month, Ellerbe’s staff submitted documents to a D.C. Council hearing grossly overstating the number of fire trucks and ambulances the department had in reserve. Several weeks later, Fox 5’s Paul Wagner aired a story voicing allegations from the union that the department’s count of its reserve fleet included fire trucks that had been sold or hadn’t been in operation for more than two years. Ellerbe responded by putting out a statement saying the union was right and thanking them for pointing out the mistakes. He blamed a retiring deputy chief.

But what Ellerbe’s statement didn’t say was that his department had received a scathing report from the city’s inspector general weeks earlier—the day before Ellerbe testified under oath at the hearing—highlighting the same problems. Ward 6 Councilmartyr Saint Tommy Wells, who heads the public safety committee that heard Ellerbe’s testimony, said the chief did not mention the IG’s findings or any significant problems with the fleet.

“I will give the chief an opportunity to explain,” says Wells, who will head Thursday’s committee hearing. “But it certainly does not look good.”

Indeed, it’s hard to imagine how the IG’s report wasn’t at the forefront of Ellerbe’s mind. Its description of the dysfunction and incompetence surrounding the department’s fleet management system is more than a little frightening. If D.C. were to suffer “large-scale emergencies or mass casualty events,” the department would not have the reserve equipment needed to respond, the IG report found.

The IG found that the department did not have a clear idea of how many reserve vehicles it had ready to be deployed at any given time, despite a 2007 special order that detailed exactly how many of which kinds of vehicles it needed in reserve where. Spot checks of reserve vehicles often found that many weren’t working. When IG inspectors visited a warehouse where the special order dictated that 20 reserves should be stored, they found there were only seven reserve vehicles there. Only three of those vehicles could start.

The report also documented numerous problems and delays with the department’s repair shop. “One manager said it takes an entire day to have a tire changed,” the report says.

Just prior to the IG report being made public last week, Ellerbe put out a statement saying his department had “come a long way” in fixing the “apparatus deficit” he’d inherited by buying several new vehicles. After the IG report came out, Ellerbe said he’d also tasked a new deputy chief to get a handle on the reserve fleet and improve the repair shop.

That may be welcome news, but it doesn’t explain why the IG found the department’s fleet in such a sorry state more than two years after Ellerbe took command. Nor does it explain why Ellerbe wasn’t sounding the alarm about his fleet earlier.

Two months into his tenure as chief, Ellerbe laid out what he saw as the department’s top five problems and his suggested solutions in a document submitted to the Council. Ellerbe’s priorities didn’t include the fleet, but said the department needed to “improve community engagement” and “create workforce opportunities for local residents.” Ellerbe expressed the same priorities in 2012, while again not mentioning any issues with the fleet.

“My impression is, they were not forthcoming last year” about the fleet problems, said Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, who used to oversee the Council’s public safety committee.

The union has long been sounding the alarm about the lack of usable reserves. Last year, LL wrote about those concerns and highlighted how Tower 3, the department’s lone tower truck that’s designated to rescue the president in the event of a fire at the White House, has been in and out of service for many years. The IG report found that Tower 3 had to go in for repairs 138 times, more than any other vehicle in the city’s fleet, in two and a half years.

The fire department didn’t respond to requests for comment on Ellerbe’s prior knowledge of fleet problems or about Tower 3. A report by outgoing Chief Dennis Rubin from October 2010 listed replacing Tower 3 as something that should be a top priority in fiscal 2011. But nearly two years later, says Dabney Hudson, second vice president of the fire union, the truck is broken and has been sitting at the fire department’s training academy for about a month. In the past year, Hudson says, the truck has been out of service for 125 days. CP

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Ward One Resident

    It's sorta hard to take your otherwise excellent story seriously when you refer to CM Wells by the petty nickname you've come up with for him. Don't get me wrong, it's funny and there is definitely a time and place for it, but in this story it just stands out as stupid and distracting.

  • Anonymous

    @Ward One Resident

    I agree, "Councilmartyr" does not convey what Wells is, a drunk. That is why I like "Tosspot Tommy".

    I do agree with you though in that I think Tosspot is stupid and distracting as well.

  • Confused

    It's awful funny how people's memories seem to fade. DC's Fire Chief has been in the news for years for NOTHING but NEGATIVE stories. From stealing pension funds when he illegally stayed on the rolls of the DC Govt while working in Florida to being a Habitual Sexual Harassment Liability (Here and in Florida). He is a proven vindictive, racist and negative appointee. Only a childhood friend could keep having faults swept under the rug for this long.

  • Barney Miller

    Child hood friend or does he hold the last nail for the coffin? No doubt Uncle Vinnie has been sweating it out waiting for the feds to knock on his door AGAIN! His actions/ inaction regarding Ken lead me to believe he may not be running again. Heck the firefighters backed him in the election, openly. For him not to give an honest ear to them before they voted no confidence is a Fenty move. And Ken is running the FD like North Korea for goodness sake. You must have pictures of your leaders in the house work harder faster with no relief or good equipment to do the job. Talk to anyone our city has the best, toughest firefighters that can be found anywhere. They are being driven away fast by a leader who only wants to give jobs to residents of certain wards. Korea Kenny is using tax dollars to fund his progressive vision. STOP THE hemorrhage! (Or hemroid)

  • Joel
  • HOOKMAN

    Korea Kenny....hehehe

    What I'd like to see at todays hearing, is a polygraph machine hooked up to Chief Frauds fingers while giving testimony and answering questions about his testimony......

    Alan you pointed out something that makes Ellerbe who he is and what his tenure has been about.....attending gazillion ANC meetings per week and handing out jobs to local residents, as if this were 7 Eleven...with this kind of mentality, it should come as no shock why issues with apparatus exist and why new recruits or paramedics have been hired. Its not a priority to him.....His priorities are for all the wrong reasons along with the few from the Progressive Firefighters who are carrying out his mission......

    He and the few followers he has left can hide behind Kennys dynamic proposed shift change which he said would make the department more efficient, but thats not the case one bit.....Change the shift, which was an old shift and proven to fail, but implement that and make it harder for those who chose to live beyond Metro DC and boom....thats how you create workforce opportunities for local residents......its a mission that varries a disturbing picture and along with the due process issues with his petty retaliatory leadership that is not only carried out by himself, but some of his subordinate chiefs as well....The ACLU doesn't involve themselvez in

  • HOOKMAN

    cont.....the fire departments disciplinary process because they have nothing to do....they involve theirselves for a reason....

  • management 101

    >Ellerbe’s priorities didn’t include the fleet, but said the department needed to “improve community engagement” and “create workforce opportunities for local residents.”

    It seems that Tammany Hall is alive and well. The reason Vince Gray hasn't fired him yet is that he has been campaigning on Vince's (and likely his own) behalf for two years, and has been using or promising to use the spoils system to do so.

    What sort of political structures do we have to keep vital services like Fire and EMS apolitical, while being responsive to citizen's needs? Clearly, with Congress's hand-off attitude, a Strong Mayor - Council structure having all the marbles in the "state" of DC does not convey enough checks nor balances.

    Weak Mayor? Council - Manager? Performance contracts for otherwise tenured Agency Heads? I don't know, but this situation reveals a systemic problem not just with the Fire Department but also with the structure of DC government.

  • KeepIt100

    Was the union vote along racial lines?

  • Mahdi Leroy J. Thorpe, Jr.

    Most of the firemen are white males from West Virginia and coal mine towns in Pennsylvania who are not used to Blacks in power - these are the folks attacking Chief Ellerbe.

  • City kid

    I am white, I grew up in DC, I have almost a decade of service in the DCF&EMS dept, and this is not the first African American Chief we've had. However this is a man with a long list of issues including sexual harassment of my sister firefighters, and a top down inefficient negitive leadership style which is chasing off medics. I'm not really worried where someone is from when my house is on fire or my family member is sick. I just want someone there.

  • HOOKMAN

    With all due respect Miss Thorpe....that was the most idiotic and uneducated response to something you know squat about.....so take your racial tones, along with your ill concieved ideas and kindly put them back where they came out of....in your case that would be your ass!!!!

  • Soon to be Chief

    Its not the shift !!! The proposal will reduce the total number of staff available by 25%. Work hours will go from 42 a week to 53. They haven't had a raise in 7 years. Overtime will increase because the shifts will swap out twice a day. Sick leave will increase. Paramedics will run, not walk out the door to surrounding jurisdictions. The folks who live far away won't leave like Ellerbie wants, there are no jobs where they live. They'll stay, be miserable, and service to the residents will continue to suffer. Say it with me.... It's NOT ABOUT THE SHIFT

  • S.E.

    "With all due respect Miss Thorpe....that was the most idiotic and uneducated response to something you know squat about.....so take your racial tones, along with your ill concieved ideas and kindly put them back where they came out of....in your case that would be your ass"!!!!

    With all due respect HOOKMAN.....What you all fail to realize is we citizens of the city know more about the department than YOU THINK we do.

    Not only do we have friends, neighbors and family who are members of the FEMS department..........wait for it..................some of us are MEMBERS and FORMER MEMBERS of the EMS department.

    So please be respectful to us citizens that YOU PROFESS to CARE so much about.

  • Barney Miller

    Mrs. Thorpe...Your are an Idiot. Blacks in power??? what are we in 1978...you are the same racist as Ken Ellerbe... "we blacks have to stick together, rise up, Over come" well guess what I'm NOT 400 years old I didnt do it I was born in '71, I didn't do it....In the fire department "WHITEY dont care, FOE SHO" I can close my eyes and Hear an Idiot white, Black, Hispanic and Asian. The fire department has some awesome leaders within,of all ethnic back grounds, that do not have racial agendas.Let's stop POLITICAL Oppression of the intellegent, Make a Chief selection based on brains and proven track record not Political ties. Ken was evil before he left(ACLU), evil while he was gone and guess what he is today??? FIREFIGHTERS WANT LEADERS THAT ARE SMART and resourcefull. Firefighting is DANGEROUS....firefighters get retired in this city with nothing to live on if they are injured and are retired before their time.(Joe Morgan)Your Last name is familiar did Tony tell you the WV, PA black leader stuff? Put a GOOD Honest Fair leader in there who is true to the mission. Stop saying the fire department is cushy because IT IS NOT. FD is an Insurance policy for THE WORST DAY YOU CAN IMAGINE. Pay now or pay later, have a good, sound "Insurance Representative" not someone who is fighting a battle that doesn't exist. When we go before God we can not hide our sins!

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  • Ward-8

    Lets see 1800 fire fighters/EMT, 300 voted no confidence in the Chief, what's wrong with this picture, I guess the elite few don't want changes, keep the old status quo, the only way to do this is to some how rant and rage about some other distraction BS. Yes, its the Chiefs fault because we don't like him changing shit. I wonder how the other 1500 FD personnel's feel, I doubt the big Union Boss will give you that information because it don't conform to their misguided rant.

  • Really?

    @KeepIt100 and Mahdi Leroy J. Thorpe, Jr...Bingo!

    @citykid...if memory serves me right ya'll vote no Confidence in the last black fire Chief.

    So, DC taxes payers should support jobs for DC residents. I'm say this again BRING BACK the DC Fire Cadet Program.

    Hey Mayor Gray....80% of the fire fighters can't even vote in any DC elections. Dig real deep before you fall for the usual Citypaper et al pressure.

  • N.W

    As I continue to read clearly we can agree on one thing firefighters need a pay increase...... now to play devil's advocate lets say if the current chief changes his movements and has a more equality impression on the department, city, union, ect. Would you still want a new fire chief?

  • Barney Miller

    @ward 8----- yup 300 to 37! Lets do a little math...shall we? 300/37 as 1800/n....follow me n=222. 222/1800 = 12.3%. 100-12.3 = 87.7%

    87.7% of the people who come or may come to your aid voted for it or did not see a reason to vote against it. That sir is RESOUNDING. The fire department has more than THIRTY SEVEN (37)(actual not percentage) non white employeees. If I were in buisness and 12.3% of people actually stood behind my product, I sir would be out of buisness, FAST.
    Misguided???? well the ACLU, Arbitrator AND the IG see it different and they are NOT paid for or influenced by the Mayor. They are called NEUTRAL PARTIES.
    Your definition of Rant; noun, a statement that you can not defend or a statement that you disagree with because your slanted agenda is in direct disproportion to the facts presented.
    THIS IS NOT ABOUT SHIFT CHANGE! That was contrived to sway interested parties that the union is crying. If he changes shifts ALL FEMS makes more $$$$. 42 to 53 hours is more pay. He said that to cloud the air and distract from ineptitude.
    The only one that is pushing race is Korea Ken. Bow down to your leader! Intimidation only lasts so long as a management tactic.

  • S.E.

    "If he changes shifts ALL FEMS makes more $$$$. 42 to 53 hours is more pay".

    If this is true, then why are you against it?

  • Barney Miller

    @S.E. Be certain I am NOT against it. Anything that gives my family 25% more pay I WILL DO no matter how hard it might be. I am against the unfair practices, unsafe culture that disregards it's employees BECAUSE they do not live in the District. I am against an Administrator that Blames others and only wants to hire city residents. This is not just a job, it is critical that we have the best not best friends. Yes there are SOME that can be firefighters and live in the city, not anyone who lives here. The inability of our leaders can not be side stepped. We need a leader (REGARDLESS OF RACE) that takes us forward and makes EVERY employee feel Valued and SAFE. Ken is autocratic and that style has always proven fatal everywhere. I have a video that he said "Some Stars are Gonna Shine" "Im going to level the playing field". Well with the exception of a few(family) we HAD good smart people in place. His agenda is to promote because of what you look like even if you were not self motivated in the past or capable today.

  • Barney Miller

    @Really?- The last black Fire Chief was Adrian Thompson (before Ellerbe) he never received a no confidence vote. Few was before him, Few did get the incompetencee vote. Get you facts Pal. And employees are STAKE HOLDERS. I guess we dont listen to people who deliver the service. Even at McDonalds they listen to their tellers and cooks.

  • Drez

    Without taking sides one way or another (because I'm pretty sure there is enough blame to go around here), the current arguing and claims of race based bias is not exactly in keeping with the "One City" theme, now is it? At the end of the day, are DC residents more or less safe now? Who is this fight serving? Is anyone advocating for the welfare of the general public here?

  • Barney Miller

    @drez- Your right! It shouldn't be a fight. Everyone should be doing the right thing all the time. The firefighters WILL always work hard, it is ingrained in the core of their being. NONE of us ever want to see suffering any where. At the end of the day when employees see dysfuntion that affects the public saftey and mention it over and over and over that is why a vote of no confidence happens. Our mission is for the citizens and visitors to the District. We point out safety and get pushed in a corner than when it is made public management pops smoke. Right now they will not admit there is a paramedic crisis although the numbers show there is. The union is looking out for safety and are accused of bitching about a schedule change that has not come to fruition.

  • KeepIt100

    @Drez, YOU support the "One City" theme?

    It is not unusual for people to separate along racial lines in the District as the wedge created under our previous Mayor along those lines still exists today. I don't think anyone will ever be able to fix it.

    I have long heard rumors about how fire and police rank and file in the city are similarly divided. I'm curious how the vote went.

    How can we give fire trucks to the Dominican Republic when we have a shortage of them?

  • S.E.

    "His agenda is to promote because of what you look like even if you were not self motivated in the past or capable today".

    That's a bold statement. How is this possible when the promotional system is test based ranking system for all ranks below Deputy Fire Chief?

  • Barney Miller

    @S.E.- WRONG the systen is for captain and below. BFC/ DFC/ AFC are selected by the chief. Your earlier words lead me to believe YOU are in the FD. Don't play me cuz!! lets look at who has been selectd by the chief in the last two years. Some are smart and capable. Most are leading beyond their capability.

  • S.E.

    "@S.E.- WRONG the systen is for captain and below. BFC/ DFC/ AFC are selected by the chief. Your earlier words lead me to believe YOU are in the FD. Don't play me cuz!! lets look at who has been selectd by the chief in the last two years. Some are smart and capable. Most are leading beyond their capability".

    Captains have been testing for the BFC position since 2008. The Fire Chief can "select" a Captain from that list to be promoted to BFC.

    Either YOU are not in FD, or YOU are not "smart and capable". Don't "play" yourself cuz!!!

    While we're "looking at who's been selected," let's also look at who's been selected by the previous Administration.

  • Barney Miller

    I thought we were talking about today! The selection process for BFC instituted by rubin(2008) has been disolved. NO LIST EXISTS.

    Well when it comes to me being Smart or Capable I can not judge that. BUT I AM FACTUAL.

    I guess I struck a nerve CUZ.

    I can give facts on the old administrations. Why dont we talk about Otis Latin... Few, Thompsonthat would really address todays issues. RUBE has been out for TWO YEARS.

    Popping smoke is an excuse! Excuses are the desert for a failed main course!

  • S.E.

    We are talking about today......are you saying that there was no BFC test given in 2010, 2012?

    We can go all the way back to Chief Coleman if you like to address todays issues, which would include Interim Chief Tippett.

    No nerve struck here CUZ!!! You will want to change out of your Pull-ups into some Big Boy drawers!!!

  • Barney Miller

    HEAR ME AGAIN! THERE IS NO TEST FOR BFC-FFD in THE DCFD/FEMS they had a list during rubin, there was no written test. it was a resume submission and interview process. BFC's are groomed from Captains. During rube you were highly qualified or qualified.

    Your referring to rube about today is a cover for someone who is over their head.

    Your big boy pants comment was funny and scared me emotionally. Your certain deegree of intellegnce and capability is riviting to my frail little mind. So dont expect me to go thug life on ya.Go back to the watch desk.

  • Barney Miller

    Tell your other 36 (thirty six) friends I said Hello.

  • S.E.

    "Your certain deegree of intellegnce and capability is riviting to my frail little mind".

    Is that a compliment?

    "So dont expect me to go thug life on ya.Go back to the watch desk".

    Would not expect that from someone of your stature....back to the watch desk to do more studying.

  • S.E.

    "Tell your other 36 (thirty six) friends I said Hello".

    I have many more than that.......in fact.....you'd be surprised at how many "mutual" friends we have.

  • StrangeFruit

    Another African American in charge the racists want to vilify!

    Please explain how a vote of no confidence doesn't include majority of the members? Only 300 of the 1200+ members voted?

  • mizwillis

    Are some of these bloggers Firefighter? Heaven forbid.
    If things are as bad as some FEMS employees say, why would anyone want to leave W.Va and/or PA to come here.

    Oh, I know. The pay is much better here than there. Or maybe with the shifts the way they are now, they can work both here in DC and at home.

  • tony

    Chief Ellerbe is the best Fire Chief this city has ever had.

    Chief Ellerbe is NOT going anywhere! He is the Chief and he will remain the Chief, period.

  • UseToBeDC

    In more than twenty years there has been ONE white fire chief. If it was an issue about a "black man in power" then it would have been so a long time ago.

    Incompetence in leaders should not be excused!!

    Additionally I still don't understand why the Union doesn't get out in front of the misperception that LRB merely wants to go from 24 hour shifts to twelve hour shifts.
    He wants to eliminate 1/4 of the DCFD!!

  • S.E.

    "Additionally I still don't understand why the Union doesn't get out in front of the misperception that LRB merely wants to go from 24 hour shifts to twelve hour shifts. He wants to eliminate 1/4 of the DCFD"!!

    The only way they would be eliminated is if they were to leave......not going to happen!! Were would they go and make the money that they're making?

    They would be re-deployed/reassigned.....thus creating a surplus until they retire.

  • S.E.

    Firefighter Salary in Washington, DC
    What Where
    Job Title, Keywords
    City, State or Zip
    Add Comparison Search Job Titles Only Average Salary of Jobs Matching Your Search
    In USD as of Mar 28, 2013 30k 60k 90k

    Firefighter in Washington, DC
    $51,000 High Confidence (more than 250 sources)

    Average Firefighter salaries for job postings in Washington, DC are 14% higher than average Firefighter salaries for job postings nationwide.

  • Mahdi Leroy J. Thorpe, Jr.

    The bottom line is that the fire departments nationwide has been dominated by white males in that occupation from the conception and they simply are not used to a strong Black male fire chief that is smart and thinks for himself. Racism has also prevailed in the fire department culture due to ignorance and cultural conditioning of white supremacy in the American culture. Folks from West Virginia, rural Ohio and the coal mines of Pennsylvania generally come to DC to work because of a failed economy in their hometowns. These folks don't vote in DC and they don't contribute to the economy and they don't see Black's in power in the fire department or any other occupation unless those Black's are controlled and conditioned under their authority - this is not racism it's fact in America if you are Black. Some of you believe there is no racism in the fire department if white's are in charge.

    I welcome an intelligent debate on this subject without the cultural conditioning of white supremacy and the lack of self awareness if you are Black. It is obvious some of you lack the developed cognitive skills and dignity to express yourself in written communication.

  • S.E.

    "I welcome an intelligent debate on this subject without the cultural conditioning of white supremacy and the lack of self awareness if you are Black. It is obvious some of you lack the developed cognitive skills and dignity to express yourself in written communication".

    What do you expect, when on average, the HIGHEST completion level on education is an GED?

  • UseToBeDC

    SE: It's a 25% cut or as I stated an elimination of 1/4 of the DCFD!!

    That's the important thing to realize.

    I said nothing about layoffs or RIF's. Or how one achieves actually eliminating those positions.

    At the end of the day there will be a smaller Fire Department and that isn't good for anyone. Especially the people of DC.

  • Soon to be Chief

    While I agree with some of the historical perspective you provide, I would argue that its still present but greatly diminished. The Fire Department is a para military type of structure that functions on a chain of command. You may not like who you report to but you respect the rank.

    I do take exception to your characterization of the Chief below
    "they simply are not used to a strong Black male fire chief that is smart and thinks for himself"

    There are many examples of strong black Chiefs that are smart and progressive. Simply put, he's not one of them.

    I'll get back to you, I think Quanders calling me now

  • tony

    Chief Ellerbe is here to stay and he is just the latest black official to come under attack in this city. It's very important for the black firefighters who support the chief to speak out on his behalf.

    The time as come for those black firefighters to stand up and speak out. FIGHT BACK!!

  • tony

    CORRECTION:The time HAS come for those black firefighters to stand up and speak out. FIGHT BACK!!

  • mizwillis

    Will somebody please tell #44 that qualified leaders do not announce their wishful thoughts on a blog? But surely #44 jests!!!!!!

  • SaveWard7

    As someone else stated in their comment: "Most of the firemen are white males from West Virginia and coal mine towns in Pennsylvania who are not used to Blacks in power - these are the folks attacking Chief Ellerbe". If Ellerbe were white would all these issues be so important and hateful? No! Judge him on his work/actions!!! It takes time and usage to break down emergency vehicles. These breakdowns did not happen overnight. It took a number of years. Let's not forget how fenty tried to give away a number of emergench vehicles while he was in office. The real issue is these firemen don't like the new rotation of their work schedules. So, go home to your hometowns and make the same amount of money you have become so use to making off of DC. I remember how racist (still is) and hard (continues to this day) it was for a qualified Black applicant to apply, get accepted and complete training to become a DC Fireman (over 50 years ago in DC). As far as transferring the union official - legal. If he doesn't like the transfer - go back to west virginia or pennsylvania and work there!

  • Engine man

    I'm a Black DC Fire Fighter. Ellerbe needs to go. He's the worse chief I've seen in 25 years of service. Ken Zen is a fraud and cares about no one except himself.

    I voted for the "no confidence" measure. If, there are some many Black fire fighters that support LRB why didn't they show up to vote down the no confidence vote. You know why, because the majority of the Blacks on the job don't support Lierb. Many are so scared and scorned by past mistreatment(s) by White management in the department, they feel like, F@@k it, the white boys are getting what the deserve. But believe me, the Black except for a hand-full, approximately 50 hate LRB and his dumb ass vindictive changes.

    We all know Lierb. He's a POS; always has been a POS and always will be a POS. And that's the truth.

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