- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 6, 2007

The D.C. fire department’s popular spokesman is returning to the job.

Alan Etter, who served as public information officer for six years, resumed his duties Monday, after D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty corrected an “oversight” that led Mr. Etter’s employment to lapse.

Mr. Etter was among dozens of D.C. workers whose employment expired Jan. 2 at the end of Anthony A. Williams’ term as mayor.

Mafara Hobson, a spokeswoman for Mr. Fenty, said that employees who had handed in their resignation but were being retained under the Fenty administration were supposed to be notified that they still had a job.

“He was just one that obviously should have gotten a call or a letter and he didn’t,” she said. “We realized the oversight and quickly corrected it.”

Mr. Etter said that he was considering some other employment offers when he got a call last week from interim fire department Chief Brian K. Lee.

“The timing was just right when Chief Lee called and said he wanted me back,” Mr. Etter said. “I am just happy to work for a department I really care about.”

John Mullen, who runs the unofficial D.C. fire department Web site www.dcfd.com, has described Mr. Etter as “very, very well respected.”

Mr. Etter said he spent his brief period of unemployment looking for work and spending time with his two children.

He said the low point came when he realized that after six years of wearing starched white uniform shirts and slacks, he had to buy a suit to wear to job interviews.

He said upon walking into the Men’s Wearhouse in Waldorf, he was recognized by the sales clerk, who shouted, “Alan Etter, where’s the fire?”

Mr. Etter, 44, said he politely explained that he was no longer working for the fire department, then he bought a three-button, single-breasted gray suit and a yellow tie that he hoped to put to work.

For now, Mr. Etter says, he’s just glad to be back in uniform.

“I really appreciate having the privilege of telling the stories of the D.C. fire department,” he said. “I’m glad I’m going to be able to do that again.”

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