Terry Lynch calls for D.C. Fire/EMS Chief Ellerbe to be fired

D.C. Fire/EMS Chief Kenneth Ellerbe

D.C. Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe is expected to be back in the hot seat Thursday.

The council will hold an oversight hearing on the current issues within the D.C. Fire and EMC Department. It comes as calls for the chief to step down are growing.

“We just have to move on, move in a different direction. It’s just not working,” said Terry Lynch, the Executive Director of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations.

Lynch believes the long list of issues facing the D.C. Fire and EMS Department are not isolated, but systemic. Recently, an injured police officer had to wait 15 minutes for an ambulance. There have also been questions about the department’s fleet of vehicles.

“When your hour of need arrives, will the equipment you need to get there?” Lynch asked.

Earlier this week, firefighter union members voted overwhelmingly they have no confidence in Chief Ellerbe.

The hearing is expected to begin at 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

ABC7 News has learned that there's also a crisis among the most qualified of emergency response employees: the paramedics. Sources say that no outside-agency paramedics have been hired two years into Ellerbe's tenure, during a time when the city desperately needs more paramedics with 80 percent of calls for service being medical in nature.

When ABC7 asked Ellerbe's office for a response to this problem, a statement came back that reads, in part, "It has been difficult to fill some of the paramedic positions that have become available due to attrition. The department has sought to fill some of these positions internally by offering paramedic training to current staff."

In the last week Mayor Vincent Gray and Ellerbe's direct boss, Deputy Mayor Paul Quander, have expressed their confidence in the chief's ability to lead the agency.

ABC7 reached out to Ellerbe's staff for comment on this story, but no response has been given yet.

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