- Obama’s regulatory agenda will cost U.S. economy $143B next year: report
- Patriot Act author on James Clapper: Fire, prosecute him
- Russia P.M. Medvedev: No amnesty for political prisoners
- Michigan GOP Senate hopeful reminds government is the ‘servant’
- Christmas, by Congress: Members mull a 15-cent tax on trees
- U.S. unemployment falls to five-year low of 7 percent; 203K jobs added
- World mourns Nelson Mandela and celebrates his life; burial set for Dec. 15
- Bill O’Reilly reminds: Nelson Mandela ‘was a communist’
- John Boehner says GOP should support gay candidates: ‘I do’
- Grass-Whopper: Pan-fried cricket burgers go over big in New York City
Vincent Gray’s team clarifies remarks on handling disasters
Mayor said in letter D.C. couldn’t respond to a Boston-like situation
Question of the Day
Officials within the D.C. mayor’s administration spent much of Monday clarifying comments made by Mayor Vincent C. Gray about whether the fire department could effectively respond to a disaster such as the recent Boston Marathon bombings.
Writing to D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, Mr. Gray in a letter dated April 22 was denying a request to increase overtime pay for the D.C. fire department when he stated it would be “almost impossible” for department employees to respond quickly to such an emergency given their far-flung locales.
“Should a serious emergency situation impact the District of Columbia, as it did just last week in Boston, it would be almost impossible for many off-duty [emergency] workers, who would be desperately needed, to respond in a timely manner to meet the needs of our residents,” Mr. Gray wrote.
The letter led to questioning of several administration officials throughout a D.C. Council committee hearing Monday on the readiness of the department to respond to a large-scale emergency, given that many fire department employees live outside the city.
“We are confidant, and we are prepared that we can respond to any emergency that takes place in the District of Columbia,” said Paul A. Quander Jr., the deputy mayor for public safety and justice. “Would it be ultimately better if all of our workforce worked within a 30-mile or 25-mile radius of the District of Columbia? I would say yes.”
Despite the alarming warning raised in the letter, which was first reported by The Washington Examiner, the mayor’s spokesman reiterated that the department is fully capable of handling a disaster.
“We never at any point say that we don’t think the District is unprepared. In fact, we think it is,” Gray spokesman Pedro Ribeiro said.
The concern about the department’s readiness was raised as the mayor discussed a proposed shift change that would dramatically alter firefighters’ work schedules. Firefighters currently work a 24-hour shift, or the equivalent of three consecutive eight-hour shifts, followed by three days off — a schedule the mayor noted “permits many personnel to commute extraordinary distances to report for work.”
The proposed shift change would require firefighters to work more-frequent 12-hour shifts — a change that likely would require many firefighters to rearrange or reconsider second jobs, move closer to the District or leave the department altogether, Mr. Gray noted.
D.C. Council member Tommy Wells, Ward 6 Democrat, said the letter has a “chilling effect” and grilled both Mr. Quander and Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier about the city’s overall readiness to respond to disasters.
Chief Lanier said she feels “very comfortable” with the police department’s ability to respond, adding that officers who work for a host of specialized units are required to live within 25 miles of the city limits.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Andrea Noble is a crime and public safety reporter for The Washington Times. She can be reached at email@example.com.
- D.C. police officer linked to prostitution ring
- Wal-Mart greets first customers in D.C.
- No money sought for new D.C. firetrucks deemed 'oversight'
- Vincent Gray's scandals promise to tangle D.C. mayoral campaign
- D.C. Mayor Gray opts to run for re-election in D.C.
Latest Blog Entries
- Spike in battlefield deaths linked to restrictive rules of engagement
- Activists urge Obama to go rogue, sidestep Congress
- Colorado judge: Bakery owner discriminated against gay couple
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
- PRUDEN: British press horrified as London's new mayor dares to proclaim the truth
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Rush Limbaugh: Obama trying to make Mandela death about himself
- Obama administration issues permits for wind farms to kill more eagles
- Obamas call to close Vatican embassy is 'slap in the face' to Roman Catholics
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Get in the middle of all the action inside and outside the boxing ring.
Find the latest news and happening that effect those in the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland Metro region.
How does our 50th state view D.C. politics?
White House pets gone wild!