D.C. Firefighters Vote ‘No Confidence’ in Chief

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File photo of firefighters. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

File photo of firefighters. (Credit: Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray is standing behind fire chief Kenneth Ellerbe following a no-confidence vote by the city firefighters’ union.

Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Paul Quander said in a statement Monday that he continues to support Ellerbe’s efforts to modernize the department. He’s calling on firefighters to work with the chief to accomplish that goal.

Ellerbe has faced scrutiny since the city had to summon an ambulance from Prince George’s County, Md., to transport an injured police officer. Union leaders say his mismanagement of the department fleet is endangering firefighters and residents. The union approved a no-confidence resolution by an overwhelming margin on Monday.

Ellerbe has proposed a major change in firefighters’ work schedules that he says will better equip the department to respond to medical calls.

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The D.C. firefighters’ union says it has no confidence in Chief Kenneth Ellerbe to lead the department.

Leaders of the Local 36 union say a “no confidence” resolution in Ellerbe was approved Monday by a tally of 300 to 37, or 89 percent in favor.

Union president Ed Smith says Ellerbe’s mismanagement of the fire department fleet has created gaps in coverage that are endangering firefighters and district residents.

Ellerbe has clashed with the union over his proposed major change to firefighters’ work schedules. He says the schedule change is needed to get more firefighters working during the day, when the call volume is higher, especially for medical emergencies. Ellerbe’s supporters say the chief is being vilified for the proposal.

District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray is standing behind Ellerbe and Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Paul Quander said in a statement Monday that he continues to support Ellerbe’s efforts to modernize the department. He’s calling on firefighters to work with the chief to accomplish that goal.

Smith said there’s also equipment concerns stemming from when an injured police officer had to wait almost 20 minutes for an ambulance earlier this month.

A report issued last week by Quander said that three ambulances were improperly listed as out of service when the officer was struck on the evening of March 5. All were within 4 miles of the scene and should have been available for use.

“The fleet is in trouble,” Smith said after the report was released. “We don’t have the right tools to do the job.”

The last time the union voted “no confidence” in a chief was in 2001.

WNEW’s Matt DelSignore contributed to this report. Follow Matt and WNEW on Twitter.

(TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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