D.C. Fire Department to consider ambulance deployment times

The D.C. Fire Department’s plan to redeploy ambulances to busier times and locations is likely to hit a major setback on Friday.

In a report to the council committee he chairs, Councilman Tommy Wells recommends rejecting the proposal. In the report, he says “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 long list of issues: A fleet in disrepair, overtime that is millions of dollars over budget, and staffing shortages.

“I want to be assured that we have the vehicles, the manpower and the qualified manpower to be able to respond to emergencies,” the report read.

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.

An investigation into that incident revealed that several D.C. emergency units were improperly out of service that night and failed to follow proper protocols during and after the crash.

A handful of D.C. employees were disciplined after the incident.

Ed Smith, the president of D.C.'s Local 36 fire union, said in a statement that Wells' move confirms that the fire department's leadership is in disarray.

“Our department has been severely mismanaged and the proposed redeployment plan would only exasperate our current shortfalls of equipment and personnel," Smith said in a statement.

Firefighters overwhelmingly supported a vote of no confidence in D.C. Fire Chief Ken Ellerbe in late March.