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Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Topic - Paul A. Quander Jr.
A deputy fire chief appointed earlier this year to oversee the D.C. fire department's troubled apparatus division is being demoted to battalion chief after the embarrassing discovery that several ambulances were repaired with street signs.
A D.C. firefighter filed a police complaint accusing Fire Chief Kenneth B. Ellerbe of assault, pointing to an encounter last week when the chief showed up on the scene of an ambulance fire and grabbed the man's cell phone from his hand.
The D.C. fire department is set to hire civilian paramedics to address dire shortages in its emergency medical services workforce — moving forward with a major policy shift that reverses decades of efforts to establish an agency whose employees are cross-trained as both medics and firefighters.
City officials have asked police to investigate two fires that occurred Tuesday aboard D.C. ambulances amid a series of embarrassing failures with the District's emergency medical fleet that has affected everyone from regular residents to the president of the United States.
Widespread ambulance breakdowns brought on by high summer temperatures have overwhelmed the D.C. fire department — causing it to send 22 ambulances to other agency's mechanics for repairs and to outsource coverage of special events to private ambulance companies for the coming weeks, according to agency officials.
A D.C. Council member is calling on the District's fire chief to resign, after the release last week of a committee report that questioned the chief's leadership ability and recommended disapproval of his signature ambulance redeployment plan.
D.C. police officers are spending too much time in hospitals, Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier says. But the problem isn't officers getting hurt on the job, it's officers being sent to hospitals to guard people who have been arrested.
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.
The police union is weighing in on safety concerns involving operations within the District's Office of Unified Communications, which handled more than 1.3 million 911 emergency calls last year.
Skeptical D.C. Council members demanded answers from the city's fire chief Thursday on what they said were serious and systemic problems with the department in the wake of a string of failed responses to emergency calls.
The District's ambulances have been sabotaged. The assertion, laid out in a D.C. inspector general's report, is the latest tit-for-tat allegation highlighting the erosion of relations between labor and management within the city's Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department.
Three D.C. ambulance crews and a supervisory officer are facing possible discipline for failing to follow department protocols the night a police officer was struck by a car and no city ambulances were available to transport him to a hospital, according to an investigative report released Thursday.
The head of the D.C. firefighters' union says a plan to keep two fully stocked, reserve ambulances ready to be put on the street in case others have mechanical problems is too little, too late.
The D.C. fire department now has two fully-stocked, reserve ambulances ready to be put on the street in case others have mechanical problems — a new tactic meant to prevent an incident such as occurred Tuesday, when several ambulances had mechanical problems and none were available to transport a police officer injured in a hit-and-run to a hospital.
Rochelle Webb has had a week to "get over the shock" of the abrupt end of her city job on April 1 — a parable of sorts on how an outsider was swept into the gears of local influence and the roulette known as the excepted service, a system of political hires who serve at the will of the executive.
"Every member of [the fire department] is held to a standard of performance, and those standards are universal," Mr. Quander said in a statement. "When situations arise where those standards are not met, our staff is held accountable. And that happens whether they are rank and file or management."
Paul A. Quander Jr., deputy mayor for public safety and justice, said he would not go into details because the issue was a personnel matter.