Dennis L. Rubin was sworn into office as D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services chief yesterday in what is left of Eastern Market just over a month after a three-alarm fire destroyed a large part of the historic landmark.
“Being the 25th fire chief of this great city is just something I never expected,” he said in the North Hall of Eastern Market, which was almost untouched by the fire that destroyed most of the South Hall.
Chief Rubin took a high profile soon after beginning his job, when two three-alarm fires hit the District in the same day. On April 30, two weeks after Chief Rubin took over as fire chief in the District, fires ravaged Eastern Market and the Georgetown public library. At the library following the blaze, the chief called the day his “baptism by fire.”
Mr. Fenty alluded to the fire department’s troubled history before administering the chief’s oath of office, and he said he was convinced Chief Rubin could provide necessary leadership to confront the “challenges that need to be resolved” in the department.
His performance the day of the two fires, Mr. Fenty said, “left us very confident and very glad that we tapped him to be the fire chief.”
Chief Rubin inherited a department struggling to recover from the botched response to reporter David E. Rosenbaum’s fatal robbery. Chief Rubin is a member of a task force established by the mayor to improve the department’s emergency medical response.
Council member Tommy Wells, Ward 6 Democrat, praised the fire chief’s performance in the Eastern Market blaze during the ceremony yesterday.
“What’s not lost on us is the symbolism of being here today,” he said. “You created the opportunity for us to be in this building today because you saved Eastern Market.”
Chief Rubin is a D.C. native and began his career as a firefighter in the District at age 21. Since then he has gained 35 years of experience in the field, including working as a fire chief in Dothan, Ala., and Norfolk. He most recently served as fire chief in Atlanta.