- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 4, 2003

Acting D.C. Fire Chief Adrian Thompson yesterday fired three high-level staffers, including a deputy chief who was disciplined last year for lying on his resume.

Fire department spokesman Alan Etter said Deputy Chief Bruce A. Cowan, public information officer Lisa Bass and grant writer Debra Kilpatrick were fired yesterday. He said he could not comment on personnel matters.

Each of the fired employees had been hired in 2001 during the troubled administration of former Chief Ronnie Few.

Chief Thompson, who took charge of the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department in November, personally escorted Miss Bass and Miss Kilpatrick out of headquarters in Northwest yesterday morning, fire department sources said.

Mr. Cowan, Miss Bass and Miss Kilpatrick could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Chief Thompson could not be reached for comment and did not provide a statement.

In September, Mr. Cowan, who earned $105,000 a year, was transferred from fire marshal to the radio shop with no command authority to learn about the fire department's communication system. Chief Thompson said last month that he would evaluate Chief Cowan based on how much he learned.

Lt. Ray Sneed, president of the D.C. Firefighters Association, yesterday said Mr. Cowan's dismissal was "long overdue."

The Washington Times first reported in March that Mr. Cowan, and former Assistant Chiefs Marcus Anderson and Gary Garland, lied on their resumes about their professional and educational experience. The three chiefs were colleagues of Mr. Few when he headed fire departments in Georgia in the 1990s.

City officials in April said the chiefs had been disciplined for errors on their resumes but did not disclose how they had been disciplined.

Mr. Anderson and Mr. Garland resigned last year, as did Mr. Few, whose resume also was found to contain inaccuracies.

Mr. Few hired Miss Kilpatrick, formerly a grant reviewer for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, for an administrative position that he funded by appropriating the salaries of three positions designated for emergency medical technicians.

The Times reported last year that Miss Kilpatrick was one of several fire department officials being investigated by the city on charges of not being D.C. residents. She was not disciplined in the matter.

Miss Kilpatrick, who fire administration sources say described herself as "chief of staff" under Mr. Few, had secured only two grants for the department in a little less than two years.

Miss Bass drew the ire of many department members and city officials for her published comments after the September 11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Miss Bass said it was "unfortunate" that accusations of D.C. firefighters stealing gear from Arlington firefighters at the Pentagon "showed up in a department that has more minorities in the region."

"Let's be sensitive to that," Miss Bass said.

Fire department sources said Chief Thompson is committed to ridding the department of the scandals that plagued Mr. Few's tenure and that more dismissals or transfers within the department are likely in the coming weeks.

Although yesterday's dismissals caught many in the department by surprise, several personnel said the actions were a good sign that Chief Thompson is moving to fix problems left by the Few administration.

In September, Chief Thompson gave EMS supervisor Samanthia Robinson an ultimatum to resign or be fired after she improperly advised a class of emergency medical technician trainees in March 2001 that they could lose their jobs if they became pregnant during their first year on the job. Three female class members terminated their pregnancies based on the advice.

Miss Robinson resigned in September.

On Dec. 9, Chief Thompson reassigned a senior communications manager and a lead fire and EMS dispatcher from their posts in the communications division after numerous and long-standing complaints about working conditions. That case remains under investigation.

Mr. Etter said Chief Thompson "continues to examine the whole fire department and explore ways for it to work more effectively."

"I think for Chief Thompson, this will be an ongoing process," Mr. Etter said. "If further actions need to be taken, he will continue to do that."

Mayor Anthony A. Williams named Chief Thompson the interim fire chief in May and picked him to be the permanent chief in November. Chief Thompson still faces a D.C. Council confirmation hearing that is likely to begin this month.

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