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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: D.C. fire chief must go

It's time for D.C. Fire Chief Kenneth B. Ellerbe to either resign or be removed from office ("D.C. Council grills fire chief on recent failed responses," Web, March 28). It is apparent Chief Ellerbe doesn't have what it takes to manage a fire department in the nation's capital, and people are at risk.

Does he really believe that an "apology" about a police officer, a stroke victim and a man who died of a heart attack suffices? D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson was right on the money when he stated, "It is about a system and a lack of quality control." Mr. Mendelson was rightfully incredulous that Chief Ellerbe had inaccurate information about the condition of his own fleet.

When the rank and file recently put forth a no-confidence vote in their chief, it said a lot. Conditions, staffing and morale have to be extremely bad when that occurs, and it sends a loud and clear message.

For those who devote their lives to public safety and uphold the oath behind their badges, it has to be extremely frustrating and discouraging to know they are faced with severe shortfalls in their ability to do their jobs. Knowing they have to endure the negative impact of their chief as he continues to muddle his way through an attempt to run a major city fire department has to be disheartening, not to mention profoundly disturbing.

Being a fire chief is not a training ground to get things right. The professional who commands that post has to have what it takes from the get-go. It is obvious Chief Ellerbe does not. It is time to stop this nonsensical tiptoeing around the tulips and looking the other way, making excuses and providing ludicrous justifications. Chief Ellerbe has become a menace to public safety in the city, and it is time for him to go.

KAREN L. BUNE

Arlington

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