- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 20, 2006

City Administrator Robert C. Bobb said yesterday that he sees no reason to dismiss Fire Chief Adrian H. Thompson, but the head of the D.C. firefighters union said the chief can no longer be effective in the job and should consider retiring.

“If I were in Chief Thompson’s position, I would think very hard about my term in the fire department,” said Lt. Ray Sneed, president of the D.C. Firefighters Association.

Lt. Sneed stopped just short of calling for the chief to be fired, as two D.C. Council members did Monday.

Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp and council member Adrian M. Fenty, both Democrats seeking their party’s nomination for mayor, were responding to a report released Friday by the Office of the Inspector General. The report excoriated the fire department’s handling of the emergency call in the fatal attack on journalist David E. Rosenbaum.

“In the present climate of the fire department and the situation since the Rosenbaum investigation, the chief can’t recoup from the damage that’s been done from his issuing an initial report stating that the rules were followed,” Lt. Sneed said. “That sends a bad message to the other firefighters and the community.”

WTOP Radio reported yesterday that Mr. Bobb told several council members that Chief Thompson would not be fired.

“I don’t see any reason why the chief should not stay out his time,” Mr. Bobb said.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams named Chief Thompson his interim chief after the resignation of Chief Ronnie Few in May 2002. Chief Thompson was appointed to the position permanently six months later.

Chief Few resigned after reports that he and three handpicked appointees whom he brought with him from a previous chief’s job in Georgia had inflated their credentials on their resumes. After Chief Few’s departure, Mr. Williams was under pressure to appoint a chief from within the department.

A lifelong D.C. resident, a member of the Navy during the Vietnam War and a 36-year veteran of the department, Chief Thompson, 57, worked his way through the ranks. He was serving as operations chief, the department’s No. 2 position, when Mr. Williams selected him to be fire chief.

Under Chief Thompson, the department restored its fleet of fire apparatus, much of which was considered obsolete by national fire protection standards.

But Chief Thompson has struggled with emergency medical services, his stated top priority. He opened a path for the department’s civilian paramedics to become uniformed firefighters and announced earlier this year that the department eventually will stop hiring firefighters who are not trained as paramedics.

However, the chief has been criticized for the slow pace of those reforms. And his efforts have exacerbated tensions among the fire suppression division and the civilian emergency medical personnel.

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