- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 29, 2002

Interim Fire Chief Adrian Thompson, who has a reputation among rank-and-file firefighters for being "tough, but fair" and has won their support, says he is ready to lead the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department for the long haul.
"I would like to have the job full time. I know what the job entails and I enjoyhelping the citizens of this city," Chief Thompson said at his first press briefing yesterday.
Standing in the parking lot of Engine Company 24 in the 5000 block of Georgia Avenue NW, Chief Thompson, 53, kept his remarks about improvements short, in keeping with his reputation as a straight-laced, by-the-book manager.
"There will be gradual, progressive changes," he said. "The only immediate changes I am concerned with are improving our training and preparedness."
Chief Thompson has served in nearly every capacity in his 32 years with the department. A lifelong District resident, he joined the department after serving with the Navy during the Vietnam War.
Mayor Anthony A. Williams did not attend the news conference introducing the new chief, whose appointment the mayor announced Thursday evening by way of a written statement.
Current Fire Chief Ronnie Few resigned effective July 31 after a series of stories in The Washington Times about professional and educational inaccuracies in the resumes of the top three assistants.
Members of the D.C. Council later called for Chief Few to be fired after learning there were myriad problems in the department under his leadership.
Although Mr. Williams has said the city will conduct a national search for a permanent replacement, firefighters at three engine companies 24, 17, and 25 said Chief Thompson is the right man for the job.
Several firefighters said the department is opposed to another outsider coming in, and that Chief Thompson has their support because he is from "within our ranks."
"Chief Thompson is a guy we can respect. He's tough, but fair and that's always been his reputation," said Lt. Dennis Gobantes of Engine Company 25 in the Congress Heights neighborhood in Southeast.
He served under Chief Thompson for two of his 13 years in the fire department's 3rd Battalion.
Lt. Gobantes, 31, said the new chief will hold everyone accountable after serving as the chief of operations. "He is in tune with the day-to-day problems we have here," he said.
Chief Thompson's nickname within the department is "The Police" because of his strict adherence to rules and regulations. But he was a little sensitive when asked.
"All I ask of people is for them to do their job, be on time, look professional," Chief Thompson said, "Is that being 'the police'?"
Firefighters said it is more a term of endearment than a stab at him.
"Right now, we need strict leadership, and being by the book is not necessarily a bad thing," said one firefighter at Engine Company 17.
Effective immediately, Chief Thompson will assume responsibility for the day-to-day operations and management of the department, but Chief Few will work closely with him through the transition.
"I'm going to apply for the job and see what happens, but I know the search process is complicated," Chief Thompson said.


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