- The Washington Times - Friday, May 31, 2002

Yesterday, a sad and sorry chapter in the history of the D.C. Fire Department came to an end with the overdue resignation of Fire Chief Ronnie Few. According to the office of Mayor Anthony Williams, Chief Few will depart as of July 31. Better late than never. At least now, the search begins for a fire chief who can command the respect and show leadership that the fire department so desperately needs.
Chief Few just never got it. The department "has benefitted enormously from my expertise in all areas," he commented yesterday. "I have provided strategic, operational and communication leadership." But the fact is that he was in over his head during his 22 months in Washington, as so amply demonstrated by the resume scandal, which brought him down and which was first reported in The Washington Times.
Some of the blame for this debacle has to be assigned to Mayor Williams himself. From the get go, the mayor's office failed to do the proper research and ignored the ethical cloud that was hanging over Chief Few back in Georgia. And those problems traveled with him.
When three positions opened for assistant fire chiefs, no national search was called. Instead Chief Few reached back to his old department in East Point, Ga., to fill them with his friends. As if this instinctive cronyism was not bad enough, the three men appointed by Chief Few to help lead the troubled D.C. Fire Department turned out to have embroidered their resumes and embellished their titles, citing degrees they had not earned from colleges that did not recongize their names. Both Assistant Chief of Services Gary L. Garland and Assistant Chief of EMS Operations Marcus R. Anderson have resigned. Only the last of the three, Deputy Chief Bruce A. Cowan remains on the job.
As if this were not enough, Chief Few's own resume was found to fall short of the facts. It stated that he had received a "1998 Fire Chief of the Year" award from Morris Brown College in Atlanta, which, as it happens, does not give such awards.
For a while both the fire department and the mayor's office chose to ignore or downplay the seriousness of these problems. And, had the D.C. Fire Department been running like a well-oiled machine, perhaps they could have been overcome. Well, it does not. The reaction of Chief Few's office yesterday to interview requests from this newspaper is typical of the department's head-in-the-sand approach. The chief invited for an interview journalists "who had been fair to him in the past" that is, those who have not asked the tough questions and come up with the hard facts, like this newspaper's Jim Keary. Had Chief Few and Mayor Williams chosen to pay attention before, the story might have had a different ending.


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