DC Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe to retire

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WASHINGTON — D.C. Fire and EMS Chief Kenneth Ellerbe announced his retirement after three years marred by intense scrutiny and complaints of poor service.

NBC Washington reported that Chief Ellerbe’s retirement will be effective July 2.

“This was a dream for me when I became a firefighter in 1982,” Chief Ellerbe said. “I will be eternally grateful to Mayor Gray for believing in me. He showed tremendous strength and fortitude in allowing me to do this job.”

Chief Ellerbe, who has been in the position since 2011, said he was not pushed aside and is retiring voluntarily, according to the report.

In recent months, D.C. Fire and EMS employees were questioned for alleged inaction after a man collapsed and died across the street from a firehouse. Chief Ellerbe has also been criticized by the local firefighter’s union for his handling of the agency, its workforce and policies, according to the report.

“I think we’ve left the department in a much better position than when I got here,” Chief Ellerbe said. “Our budget has been balanced for three years. We’ve got a handle on overtime. The things I set out to do have been accomplished. So it’s time to go look for something else.”

Beginning July 2, Chief Ellerbe will be replaced in the interim by Eugene Jones, assistant fire chief of operations.

Chief Ellerbe said his leadership helped eliminate budget crunches, created by excessive overtime pay, which existed before his tenure began, according to the report.

“We don’t have that issue anymore,” he said. “The fleet was in a deplorable state. Now the fleet’s in a better position. We have a pipeline of paramedics and cadets. So, versus 2011, we’re in a much better position. The person who will be replacing me will be receiving the department in a better condition than I found it.”

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