- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 21, 2002

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams yesterday chose interim Fire Chief Adrian Thompson to be permanent head of the city's Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department, replacing Fire Chief Ronnie Few, who resigned in the summer.
"I stand behind this man," Mr. Williams said at his weekly press briefing. "I'm putting everything I've got behind Adrian Thompson because I believe in him."
Once confirmed, Chief Thompson takes over the 1,920-member department with its $122 million budget, succeeding Chief Few, who was criticized during his tenure for allowing the department's response times to soar, implementing a radio system that firefighters say fails in emergency situations and working with an aging fleet of firetrucks.
Chief Few resigned in June after reports surfaced questioning his credentials and those of his three top appointees.
"D.C. Fire and EMS is not where they were, but we're not where we want to be either," said Chief Thompson, a D.C. resident and 32-year fire department veteran who had served in the department's No. 2 position until he was named interim chief in June.
"He's done a terrific job as the interim chief, focusing on the basics and reorganizing things that need to be done right away to improve the quality of service," Mr. Williams said.
Chief Thompson's nomination as permanent chief won the support of the firefighters union.
D.C. Council member Kathy Patterson, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, which has oversight of the fire department, said Chief Thompson was a "good choice for the job." Mrs. Patterson, Ward 3 Democrat, said he will be put through a rigorous confirmation hearing that could start as early as January.
Mr. Williams declined to name any other finalists for the job.
Among Chief Thompson's priorities will be cutting $7 million from the department's fiscal 2003 budget and lowering EMS response times.
Chief Thompson said he planned to address shortages on the EMS side by staffing ambulances with one paramedic who can provide advanced life support and one emergency medical technician who can provide basic life support to assist. Advanced-life-support ambulances currently are staffed by two paramedics.
He also will work on long-stalled plans to cross-train the department's civilian emergency medical staff and its uniformed firefighters. Resolving benefits issues between the groups, which are represented by different unions, has held up the process. Chief Thompson said he fully supports equal benefits and would lobby to bring the medics' benefits up to the standard of firefighters' benefits.
Chief Thompson said plans for addressing the budget shortfall do not include closing any fire stations, but could include consolidating stations where one company mans a fire engine and another mans a rescue squad.


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