DC fire chief testifies at council hearing on fleet maintenance - FOX 13 News

DC fire chief testifies at council hearing on fleet maintenance

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It was another stressful appearance Wednesday in front of the D.C. Council for Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe.

Ellerbe spent two hours in the hot seat explaining why his department, responsible for Fire and EMS services in the nation's capital, continues to be plagued by problems that strike at the core of its mission.

"Our focus right now is what the city needs," Ellerbe told the committee chairman, councilmember and mayoral candidate Tommy Wells. "From apparatus to personnel."

The D.C. Fire and EMS Department is routinely one of the busiest in the nation. But, according to an outside audit, the department's fleet of fire trucks, engines and ambulances is in a "critical state with chronic long-term management, maintenance and replacement issues."

The district-based consulting firm, BDA Global, released its report last week.

"The report shows enough of a systemic failure that it requires a new paradigm," Wells told Ellerbe. "A radical change."

Ellerbe replied: "There is an extreme sense of urgency and while we understand that it's going to take an extraordinary effort to respond to these challenges. We're prepared to do that."

But Chief Ellerbe admitted there was no money for new apparatus put in the fiscal 2013 budget. An oversight he blamed on a former department official.

The chief did provide some positive news to the Wells' committee. He says 17 new ambulances will be in the city by the end of the year and that the department has hired seven new paramedics.

Related Story:

Report finds major failures with DC Fire dept. fleet and maintenance

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