- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 9, 2002

Three candidates from within the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department have emerged as contenders to become the new permanent chief, city and fire department sources say.

Interim D.C. Fire Chief Adrian Thompson, Deputy Chief Beatrice Rudder and Battalion Chief Stephen Reid are all considered to be on a short list of candidates to replace D.C. Fire Chief Ronnie Few, whose resignation takes effect at the end of this month.

City officials are conducting a national search that could take between three and five months. It is being handled by a Bellevue, Wash.-based executive-search firm, the Oldani Group, according to the company's Web site.

Rank-and-file firefighters overwhelmingly say they prefer the next chief to come from within the department, which has about 1,920 employees.

D.C. Council member Kathy Patterson, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said naming a chief from within has obvious benefits.

"There's always an advantage to being within the department, because you know what the issues are and you know what it's going to take to resolve them," said Mrs. Patterson, Ward 3 Democrat.

The three contenders within the department all stressed the importance of being able to work with rank-and-file firefighters.

Chief Rudder, a D.C. firefighter since 1977, is considered to be the front-runner for the chief's job. She was the first woman hired by the department and the first woman to become a commissioned officer. She has headed the training department and currently runs the department's professional standards office.

Chief Rudder, who removed herself from consideration during the national search that resulted in Chief Few's hiring two years ago, holds a master's degree in public administration and a bachelor's degree in fire-science administration from the University of the District of Columbia. She also holds a bachelor's degree in biology from American University.

"I will put my hat in, but I will support anyone they select from within," said Chief Rudder, 49. "It's very important for the state of our department that we have someone who knows the people and someone who has management skills."

Chief Rudder said she isn't pursuing the job in order to defeat anyone else, but feels it is important to show there are people within the department that are capable and interested in the job.

Chief Reid of the 4th Battalion, a 25-year veteran of the department, is also in the running.

Chief Reid, 51, is one of 58 chief officers in the country to receive the chief fire officers designation from the International Association of Fire Chiefs. He holds a Ph.D. in fire service administration from Western States University, a master's degree in management from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor's degree in fire administration from the University of the District of Columbia.

"I really think I can make a difference," said Chief Reid, who was a finalist for the fire chief's job in Houston and a contender for the same job in Seattle. "It's something I've been interested in for a long time, and I'd like to lead the department back to prominence."

Chief Thompson, named the city's interim fire chief on June 28, is also being considered to fill the post on a permanent basis. A member of the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War and a 32-year veteran of the department, Chief Thompson, 53, worked his way through the ranks and was appointed operations chief the department's No. 2 position in April 2001.

"I believe a person from within is better able to understand what this agency does and how we go about doing it," Chief Thompson said. He said he plans to apply for the job, but he doesn't feel as if serving as interim chief is an audition for the role of permanent chief.

"I don't look at it in those terms," he said. "I just try to do my job and move this agency forward. It's a group effort. One man leads the charge, but he can't do it by himself."

All three candidates have a wide degree of support from firefighters, as do Deputy Chief Pete Miller in administration, 3rd Battalion Chief John Thumann and former EMS Chief William Mould, who also served as a deputy chief in the firefighting division.


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