- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 4, 2015

Washington, D.C.’s interim fire chief says he has a job in the administration of Mayor Muriel Bowser, but it’s unclear if he’ll remain as head of the agency.

Ms. Bowser, who was sworn into office Friday, has made several high profile appointments but has yet to choose a leader of the fire department — a highly anticipated selection, given the dysfunction within the agency under former Mayor Vincent C. Gray.

On Friday, interim Fire Chief Eugene Jones said he has been assured he has a position in the agency but it was unclear whether he would be the permanent fire chief or if he might assume a lesser role.

Ms. Bowser told WRC-TV (Channel 4) on Sunday morning that a national search to find a fire chief was “underway” and that Chief Jones was being considered for the position.

“We’re going to do a robust search,” she said. “We’re going to make sure we have a great head of our fire and EMS department as well.”

Chief Jones joined the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services department in November 2013 as assistant chief and took over as interim fire chief in July after former Chief Kenneth B. Ellerbe resigned. Chief Jones, who previously served as the head of the fire department in Prince George’s County, has made it known he’d like to retain the job he holds on a permanent basis.

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D.C. Firefighters Association President Ed Smith said the union still supports a national search to fill the position but added that such an effort should not preclude Chief Jones.

“He’s done a yeoman’s job,” Mr. Smith said. “He’s earned the respect of the men and women of the department.”

Ms. Bowser’s spokeswoman, LaToya Foster, said there was no set date for an announcement on the position.

Ms. Bowser defeated Mr. Gray in the Democratic primary in April and secured her victory with a win over two independent candidates in November. A lengthy lame-duck period and a full six months without a permanent chief to lead the agency forward has caused anxiety within the department, Mr. Smith said.

“We’re looking forward to moving forward,” he said.

• Andrea Noble can be reached at anoble@washingtontimes.com.

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