- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 30, 2002

D.C. Fire Chief Ronnie Few is expected to resign as early as this week in the wake of reports that he and three of his aides lied about their professional and educational achievements in their resumes, a senior city government official said yesterday.
"He said he is looking to get out. I think he is itching to leave," said the city official, who asked not to be identified. "It may be sooner rather than later. He is ready to go back to Georgia."
Attempts to contact Chief Few yesterday were unsuccessful. His telephone has been disconnected, and there was no answer at his apartment in the 1400 block of Fourth Street SW.
No one from the fire department attended a mayoral press conference yesterday to announce an initiative to enable inspectors from city regulatory agencies, including the fire department, to enforce certain regulations from other agencies. Chief Few had been scheduled to attend.
Fire department spokeswoman Lisa Bass said Chief Few did not report to work yesterday and that Assistant Chief Adrian Thompson was in charge, adding that he has not been named interim or acting chief. Miss Bass said she last spoke to Chief Few on Friday.
Fire officials said Chief Few and Assistant Chief Gary L. Garland have been placed on 30 days paid administrative leave and told to resign during that time or be fired.
Fire department sources said Chief Garland likely has resigned already, noting that he turned in his pager and cellular telephone yesterday. "It sounds like he is done," one fire official said.
Miss Bass said Chief Garland also did not report to work yesterday.
City Administrator John Koskinen on Friday said "appropriate disciplinary actions" have been taken against Chiefs Few and Garland and Assistant Chief Marcus R. Anderson and Deputy Chief Bruce A. Cowan in the resume scandal.
Neither Mr. Koskinen, who investigated the scandal, nor Mayor Anthony A. Williams, who called for the six-week investigation and has been increasingly critical of Chief Few in public, would divulge how the firefighters were disciplined.
Tony Bullock, spokesman for Mr. Williams, yesterday said he could not disclose the chiefs' punishments or employment statuses.
"They have received some disciplinary action. I cannot discuss it beyond that," Mr. Bullock said. "It is not our practice to discuss personnel issues in the newspaper, so we are not going to start now. You will have to find some other way to learn more."
Margret Nedelkoff Kellems, deputy mayor for public safety and justice, did not return calls made to her office.
The Washington Times first reported on March 13 that Chiefs Garland, Anderson and Cowan said in their resumes that they held the rank of chief in their previous jobs in the East Point, Ga., Fire Department. None had attained a rank higher than lieutenant. Their resumes also erroneously stated they had attended Dillard University in New Orleans, which has no record of their enrollment.
The three chiefs are friends of Chief Few and served under him when he was fire chief at East Point in the 1990s.
The Washington Post first reported on April 12 that Chief Few's resume and biography erroneously stated he had received a degree from Morris Brown College in Atlanta and had received an award from an international firefighters group that does not bestow such awards.
Fire department sources said Chief Garland is expected to resign before the end of his 30-day suspension. City government and fire department sources said it is doubtful that Chief Garland would appeal his suspension, saying he has been expecting to be fired.
"Garland keeps saying, 'Why ask me? I'm out of here,'" said a fire official who asked not to be identified.
Fire department employees said Chiefs Cowan and Anderson did not report to work yesterday. Chief Anderson, who is in charge of the Emergency Medical Services Division, took sick leave Friday and yesterday.
Chiefs Cowan and Anderson serve at the discretion of the fire chief and can be replaced at any time.
"[City officials] told Few and Garland to leave, and they are keeping Cowan and Anderson, and they'll let the next chief worry about them," a fire department official said.
Miss Bass yesterday said she did not know the employment statuses of Chiefs Garland, Anderson and Cowan.
Chief Few, who took charge of the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department in 2000, appointed his three aides during the past two years under an arrangement with the D.C. Council that allowed him to make the appointments without competition. In exchange for his carte blanche appointments, he promised that he would not hire his cronies.
The East Point Fire Department has about 110 workers. The D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department has 1,920 employees.
City sources said Mr. Koskinen's inquiry found that Chiefs Garland and Cowan had major errors on their resumes, including Chief Garland's assertion that he held an associate's degree and Chief Cowan's assertion that he retired from his former job. Chief Cowan was fired for insubordination.
Matthew Cella contributed to this report.

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