D.C.

Tommy Wells: District fire department is in disarray

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According to its author, District Councilman Tommy Wells, a 29-page report is a startling indictment of a fire department in disarray.

District Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe wants to shift more than a dozen ambulances from overnights to mornings and afternoons – when call volumes are higher. And in theory, Wells supports redeployment. However, he states in his report that in practice, “The committee believes that approval of this plan could have serious consequences for public safety, and so cannot, in good conscience, recommend approval at this time.”

The report cites a laundry list of problems: a fleet of vehicles in disrepair, millions of dollars over budget in terms of overtime, inaccurate personnel and arson data, along with a shortage of ambulances and paramedics.

In fact, the report states the department “has failed to hire, internally train, or effectively retrain paramedics.” The report even says that the department is unable to appropriately manage its workforce.

While Wells believes the fire department is not in crisis, he believes it’s up to Chief Ellerbe to quickly restore this agency to respectability.

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