WASHINGTON — After eight months on the department, Eugene Jones was named D.C. Fire and EMS interim fire chief after Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe announced his retirement last week.
NBC Washington reported that Chief Jones’ biggest challenge, who takes the position beginning July 3, will be restoring the faith of the public after numerous cases where the department did not live up to expectations.
“I would like to see the focus shifted to the good deeds of the men and women that occur every day so that the media can sample what the citizens’ sample — that they get great service,” Chief Jones said.
Another problem to fix is the relationship between the rank-and-file and management. Many firefighters and medics previously said they could not complain openly without fear of retaliation, according to the report.
“Freedom of speech is something that we cherish, and I believe employees should be able to talk about issues that they fell that it’s important to them,” Jones said.
Jones, who has been with the department for eight months, said he’s going to stay out of the spotlight and shift the public’s focus, according to the report.
“My style is it is better that people see the employees and the good work that they do because I’ve had my 15 minutes of fame, I’ve been a chief in another department,” he said.
Jones was the fire chief of Prince George’s County Fire and EMS Department for about 18 months and was in the Office of Homeland Security in the same district before that for two years, according to the report.
Fire officials want the next fire chief to come from within the department, but will also be conducting a nationwide search.