- The Washington Times - Friday, June 28, 2002

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams yesterday announced he had tapped the fire department's No. 2 official to serve as interim chief, after last month's resignation of Chief Ronnie Few.

Assistant Fire Chief Adrian Thompson, a 32-year veteran of the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department, will work with Chief Few until the latter's resignation becomes effective July 31.

"Adrian Thompson is a dedicated and capable leader in the department," Mr. Williams said in a written statement. "He has served this city for more than three decades. I am very pleased that he has agreed to help us through this transition."

The announcement comes as no surprise. For three months, general orders, special orders and departmental memos have been issued in Chief Thompson's name.

D.C. Council member Kathy Patterson said she was "delighted" a choice has been made.

"It's very important to me to know who's in charge," Mrs. Patterson said. "Now I know who to call."

Mrs. Patterson, Ward 3 Democrat and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, which oversees the department, said she hopes the interim chief will waste no time in addressing equipment, communications and personnel issues.

According to department sources, Chief Thompson's priorities will be closely aligned with the mayor's scorecard goals for department performance posted on the city's Web site.

Sources say Chief Thompson's priorities will be to lower EMS response times, revamp the department's training academy, put two more paramedic engine companies in service and begin long-stalled plans to cross-train firefighters and medics.

Chief Thompson was named assistant fire chief of operations the department's No. 2 position by Chief Few in April 2001 and earned the nickname "the Police" for his strict adherence to regulations.

Wednesday at a mandatory senior staff meeting not attended by Chief Few, Chief Thompson told department officials he expected rules and regulations to be followed, reaching down as far as the appearance of firefighters, who sometimes dress casually while on duty.

According to firefighters, Chief Thompson paid impromptu visits to two stations in Southeast while out jogging Saturday and dressed down several firefighters for inappropriate appearance, which included wearing sneakers on duty and hats turned backward.

That afternoon, a general order was issued reminding firefighters of regulations on dress.

Lt. Ray Sneed, president of the D.C. Firefighters Association, said he has spoken with Chief Thompson and believes the interim chief was "the heir apparent."

"We're willing to work with the interim chief to make sure the department gets back on the right track," Lt. Sneed said.

Mr. Williams plans to appoint a search committee to recommend candidates for a permanent replacement for Chief Few. City officials have said that process could take between three and five months.

Sources say Chief Thompson hopes to be considered for the post on a permanent basis.

"I think it's Chief Thompson's job to lose," Lt. Sneed said.

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