- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 3, 2012

D.C. fire officials are investigating an order that directed firefighters to fill a private swimming pool over the weekend in the midst of an onslaught of emergency calls related to Friday’s storm.

Mayor Vincent C. Gray on Tuesday afternoon said he had just learned of the incident but said officials would “look into the allegations.”

“It doesn’t sound like it would be appropriate, no matter how many calls we had,” he said.

Engine 30, which is based at a fire station located just off East Capitol Street in Northeast, went out of service for approximately an hour Saturday afternoon in order to fill an above-ground pool in the backyard of a Grant Park duplex.

D.C. fire department spokesman Lon Walls did not return phone messages seeking comment. Mr. Walls in an email Monday night to inquiries about the pool said the department “would like to look into the swimming pool situation.”

“In order to do so, we need more information,” he said.

D.C. Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe did not return a phone message Tuesday afternoon. The chief told WJLA-TV (Channel 7) that the incident was an “outrageously bad decision” but that it might have been done to help residents cope with the extreme heat.

“I know I wouldn’t have done it. But it may have been done to help a citizen who was hot,” Chief Ellerbe said.

An internal department document obtained by The Washington Times shows that an official request to “fill water pool” was sent through the department Thursday, the day before the massive stormed knocked out power in large swaths of the region.

At the bottom of the “Special Events Notice,” the name “W. Wright” appears as the person who sent the request through the department. When reached at the phone number listed on the document, William Wright, who works for the fire department and is listed in D.C. personnel records as a customer service specialist, declined to comment.

“I can’t comment on that,” Mr. Wright said, forwarding questions on to Battalion Chief Brian Lee, who also declined to comment.

Within a 24-hour period Saturday, the fire department reported 1,553 emergency calls. Normal call volume runs about 450 calls a day, according to union officials.

Tom Howell Jr. contributed to this report.

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