Loose Lips

Four D.C. Ambulances “Repaired” With Parking Signs

photo (2) (1)

At least four District fire department ambulances were "repaired" by replacing their heat shields with no-parking signs like the one above, Deputy Mayor Paul Quander is expected to acknowledge in a statement this evening.

Two of the ambulances have already been repaired, Quander says in a release. The clumsy repairs were made in July.

The news comes after a series of embarrassing incidents for the ambulance fleet, including two ambulances catching fire yesterday and an ambulance in the presidential motorcade running out of gas. Neither of the two ambulances that caught fire contained the makeshift heat shields, according to Quander.

The issue was brought to the fire department's attention by a fire union official, but it wasn't passed on to top brass, according to Quander. "The official that it was brought to did not take immediate action,” Quander says in the statement.

The unusual repairs were first publicized by fire union president Ed Smith in a press release this morning. "They need to 'fess up to the crappy repairs that are putting the public at risk," Smith tells LL.

Quander's full press release:

Aluminum signs that were temporarily installed in some D.C. Fire and Emergency Services (FEMS) ambulances are being removed from the vehicles, Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Paul Quander said.

When FEMS ambulances were brought in for service last month because of air conditioning failures caused by the heatwave, aluminum signs were placed in the engine compartments of some of the vehicles to serve temporarily as heat shields. An official from the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 36 informed a FEMS official of this on Monday, Aug. 12. “But the official that it was brought to did not take immediate action,” Deputy Mayor Quander said.

The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) was asked late Tuesday to investigate two reports of fires in ambulances earlier that day. Police were made aware of the aluminum sign situation, and MPD said late Wednesday that it does not appear that either of the ambulances involved had these signs in their engine compartments.

“One of the reasons we wanted MPD is to get independent eyes and ears involved,” Quander said.

As of late Wednesday, four ambulances had been found to have these alterations, and two of them already were back in service after the alterations were removed and new materials safely installed.

Correction: This story incorrectly described the Department of Public Works as typically performing maintenance on DCFEMS vehicles. 

Photo courtesy IAFF 36

  • Blevins

    Ellerbe. Must. Go. Where is Vince on this issue? Predictably silent...

  • Inside looking in

    Getting rid of the fire chief will not change the way the EMS system in DC is run. That is the real issue, but nobody wants to touch that with a ten foot pole. Not the politicians, or Local 36.

  • New Face

    Getting rid of the fire chief might bring in someone who has a clue how to manage a diverse workforce of 2000 employees and manage a fleet of 100s of vehicles.

    But no, we got Kenny "it's my heritage" Ellerbe.

  • drez

    Burn the whole house down. Both management and labor have shown their fight with eachother takes precedent over the FEMS mission of protecting and serving the public.

  • noodlez



  • Big Daddy2

    Ellerbe has to go BUT union is also responsible. What the status on staffing changes that would make DC firefighters from DC?

  • Purify

    This should be applauded as an ingenious use of the taxpayer's money, why pay probably hundreds of dollars for an aluminum heat shield when you can get one for free. The signs are probably thicker then the one you'd get from the manufacturer.

  • drez

    This fight has gone on too long. If there were creative leaders on either side it would not be impacting public safety. People have literally died over this. Time to start fresh. I'm not one to look to privatize or contract out such core government services but that drastic option is looking more attractive that this debacle.

  • SEis4ME

    The obvious question is why must the city resort to using parking signs as a fix for anything other than...well...telling people where to park. Whoever came up w/this idea needs to be let go. Whomever the official is who took no action needs to go.

    It's clear that nothing about the fire dept is getting any better. Time for heads to roll .....

  • Corky

    Maybe if the labor union hacks would stop sabotaging their own equipment, more ambulances would be available on each shift. There is obviously a coordinated media campaign by the union against Chief Ellerbe. Just watch Fox 5 or Channel 4 every aftermoon. It is really pathetic when the Chief gets blamed for an ambulance running out of gas. The Chief didn't cause a sick out on New Yer's Eve or for ambulance crews to fail to respond to calls to transport a downed MPD officer. Some of this dysfunction is clearly related to the rank and file.

  • Man of our Town

    This is a damn shame and it was clearly a set up. You can tell it was a set up by the fact that it wasn't reported to the top brass but it was just reported to middle management which is also more than likely a member of the union. The union wants the Chief gone and they are going to do whatever it takes to do it. The fact of the matter is if you went to Washington State or West Virginia and said that some of their local firefighters who were making around $100k a year if not more lived in Washington, DC and would commute from time to time it would be an issue. But come to DC and say that some of your firefighters live in West Virginia or Washington State and it is fine.

    What is even a bigger problem is the bs City Council and Mayor. They go crazy about mandating that the construction industry, developers or contractors must have a majority DC residents working for them. At the same time Teachers (DCPS), DC Fire, DC EMS, DC Police and Government Employees (all union) can have little to no DC residents working for them. Pure bullshit, but we can't discuss that.

  • drez

    @ Man of our town:
    It's not the mayor or council, it's the courts.

  • Typical DC BS

    Aren't the ambulance mechanics union workers? Or are repairs contracted out?

  • drez

    The repairs are done in house at the facility near the DMV.

  • Buzy Bee

    It's a dayum HOT MESS!!!!! Why would they put our lives at risk by setting them on fire? All this BS about finding out who linked the pix who gives a damn. It should be embarrassing to know how trifling Ellerbe is when the so called Mayor is sitting on $400 million surplus. Get a whole new fleet. But I guess those dollars are gonna go the crooked folk under Gray who haven't already been indicted and to developers who don't give a darn about the District.

  • DCShadyBoots

    Sounds to me like heads need to roll at their fleet management division. Unless, of course, the problems is on the legislative side and budget cuts. Do tell!

  • Drez

    No one needs any investigation to know that the current situation is a a result of leadership failure and labor/management impass.
    How does this benefit the public? Such misplaced priorities. It's shameful.
    I hope that when the next person dies they name the leaders involved as a defendant in thier suit.

  • DCShadyBoots

    I disagree, this is about a failure of union labor to respect the chain of command along the lines of race. The union operator of the Med1 needs to be fired for putting the president and our national security at risk by not putting gas in the ambulance during pre-trip inspections. All other firefighters need to be summarily fired when they are found insubordinate.

  • Enuff

    The situation has to come to a head at some point. The two sides are so diametrically opposed that you either have to get rid of the Chief or get rid of the whole organization (meaning all the personnel). There is no doubt that fault lies with both parties but to make this a union issue is wrong and misguided. Ultimately this falls on the Chief and his failure to craft a workable plan to provide service to the city. All leaders show up with an agenda and then determine what is practical and doable. To continue to push an agenda that has no chance of success is endangering citizens and antagonizing an already demoralized workforce. Quander must know this so it has to be the personal relationship between Vinnie and Ellerbie that allows this to continue

  • seDCdue

    " There is no doubt that fault lies with both parties but to make this a union issue is wrong and misguided"

    No, the fault lies solely on the UNION for creating this powder keg of insubordination, inciting disrespectful agendas, fueling b!tchassness and misplacing priority which is to DO THE JOB YOU WERE SWORN TO DO, PAID TO DO AND EXPECTED TO DO!!!

    Firefighter PRIDE does NOT call for childish behavior, limp wristed agendas or whiney, complaining rhetoric that brings shame to SELF Ed Smith!!!! This dude is single handedly putting a blackeye on DC firefighter representation which is Manhood, Deliberance, Service, Selflessness, Courage, Innovation, Intelligence, Ethics, Morality and Professionalism..............none of which the Union Boss embodies in MHO!!

    Workable plan???!! WTF!!! Dude you are another shameless Smith crony with that syncophantic crap you posted!

  • dez

    Good analysis by Enuff.

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  • drez

    Good analysis by Enuff

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