D.C.

Chuck Ryan, severely burned firefighter, talks to ABC7 about protective shirts in storage

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D.C. firefighters and councilmembers are asking if protective shirts have been sitting in storage instead of being worn by firefighters--because the shirts didn't have the right patch.

D.C. firefighter Chuck Ryan.

Veteran D.C. firefighter Chuck Ryan was the most critically injured of five firefighters in a house fire that flashed over last April.

Today, only on ABC7, he talks about the recent report in the Washington Examiner that fire-resistant shirts designed to prevent burn injuries were sitting in a fire department warehouse last year when Ryan and four others were burned.

With second and third-degree burns on 40 percent of his body, Ryan is still on the very long road to recovery.

The Examiner reports the shirts were in storage and not handed out because the protective clothing didn't have the correct patches. Almost $70,000 of polo shirts bore logos designed by the previous administration. The shirts didn't have the new department logo ordered by current Chief Kenneth Ellerbe, so the shirts stayed in the boxes, according to the Examiner.

Councilman Phil Mendelson's office has been asking the department for months about rumors that the protective shirts were available. But he says he was always told the shirts didn't exist.

"It was disturbing after a year to find out they do exist," Mendelson says.

"We work in the best city in the nation," Ryan says. "Why wouldn't we have the best equipment available?"

"The temperature got so hot the uniform melted into my skin," Ryan says.

If he wasn't wearing the best gear--because of a patch--that's disheartening, he says.

Ryan says the shirts now in storage might have helped lessen the burns on his upper arms and back. But he says we will never know how much.

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