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D.C. firefighters pour cold water on chief’s rescheduling plan
Question of the Day
Mr. Smith said officials should offer incentives if the department wants more firefighters to live in the District.
“There’s no affordable housing,” he said.”This whole deal is going to destroy people’s lives and their families’ lives.”
Mr. Gray and public safety officials say the city will be safer in the case of a catastrophe if more of its firefighters live close to the city.
Chief Ellerbe agreed.
“We will not reduce services one bit,” he said. “As long as someone’s on duty, safety is not an issue.”
But Mr. Smith disputed that, saying that the reduction in workforce is more of a danger than geographic considerations in the event of a major catastrophe. There is a moment of “disorganized chaos” when local, off-duty members respond in the moments after an event, which means a delay is “not necessarily a bad thing” while on-duty forces coordinate the immediate response.
Mr. Smith also argued the plan could cost the city money before its saves any: It would have to pay for increased work hours before attrition makes up for it.
“We’re definitely disappointed in the mayor,” he said.
Council member Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat, said he met recently with local officials, noting that the presentation by Chief Ellerbe was “dramatically different from theirs.”
“This is an enormous issue for them,” Mr. Evans said.
D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown applauded the expected savings, but said public safety will guide public opinion on the issue.
“People want to be protected,” he said.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Tom Howell Jr. covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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