D.C. Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe under fire, plan rejected

D.C. Fire/EMS Chief Kenneth Ellerbe

The crisis within the D.C. Fire Department has deepened after the public safety committee voted down Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe's latest plan.

And Councilmember Mary Cheh says Ellerbe should probably be looking for a new job.

Frustration is building after a scathing report on the fire department's problems and Councilmember Mary Cheh says if the fire chief can't come up with an immediate plan, he might want to dust off his resume.

One problem after another has plagued D.C.'s ambulance service for months. Long waits, units sidelined with mechanical failures, staffing shortages.

And now a 29-page report outlines a department in disarray.

"Unless he has an immediate response that has some comprehensive plan we could have confidence in, then he should be looking for something else," Cheh says.

Ellerbe had asked the council to sign off on a new plan that would redeploy ambulance crews to periods of peak usage, but the public safety committee voted that plan down.

"He's got to get on top of things," Council Chairman Phil Mendelson says. "Clearly things need to be happening."

But Cheh says she's running out of patience.

"We're left with a department that is on its way down and the people of DC are not going to take that," Cheh says. "I'm not going to take that."