D.C.

Chief Kenneth Ellerbe supporters defend embattled fire chief

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D.C. Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe has faced withering criticism over the past several months over his leadership of D.C. Fire& EMS. But on Monday, a small crowd of about a dozen gathered at City Hall to support the embattled chief.

His supporters questioned why Ellerbe is at fault and why alleged deep-rooted problems were never attributed to the former fire chief, Dennis Rubin.

"When a fire engine was sold, no one called for the resignation of Mr. Rubin,” says Anthony Muhammad, an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner.

Firefighters supported a vote of no confidence in Ken Ellerbe in late March.

Last week, D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh called for Ellerbe to resign, citing a scathing 29-page report showing a fire department in disarray.

Even though they said they hadn't read the report, Ellerbe's supporters dismissed it, saying the councilman who issued the report, Tommy Wells, has political reasons for issuing the report since he’s running for mayor.

D.C. firefighter Nathan Queen said, "any judiciary chairperson can go and pull off the shelf any issue with the fire department and all they have to do is change the date. The same issues still exist now that existed 30 years ago."

A March report indicated that nearly half of the District's fleet of ambulances were out of service at that time, leaving just 58 of the 111 at the city's disposal able to be used.

That investigation and disclosure came a few weeks after an MPD motorcycle officer had to wait nearly an hour for medical service - from a Prince George's County unit - after being hit by a car in Southeast.

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