Interim D.C. fire chief to end hiring freeze

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FireRescue1 Staff

WASHINGTON — D.C.'s interim fire chief will lift the hiring freeze put in place by former Chief Ellerbe and begin recruiting firefighter-paramedics again.

My Fox DC reported that Interim Chief Eugene Jones addressed staffing, EMS, firefighter arrests and the Cecil Mills case in a recent interview.

Chief Jones first addressed the arrest of another D.C. firefighter — the 15th since last October.

"Personally, I think these issues, notwithstanding that one, are health-related issues, people dealing with stressors that occur in their life and I want to do more of that … help employees not get in trouble," Chief Jones said. "But employees do get in trouble (and) that's why we have a law enforcement system to deal with those issues. Firefighters are not above the law."

In the case of Cecil Mills, the 77-year-old who collapsed across the street from a firehouse last January while no one came out to help, Chief Jones says he wants to see the results of the trial boards before deciding punishment.

"I think the trial boards should run their course because it will provide us pretty clear information on what happened that day and who should be carrying the blame for what occurred," he said. "So that is what I would like to see because there is that deliberative process. Let’s see what’s being said."

Chief Jones also said he will lift the hiring freeze and a class of 50 firefighter-medics will be hired in the very near future, according to the report.

He also said eight new engines and two new ladder trucks are on the way and four new medic units are on the street from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. with two more on the way, according to the report.

"Those new units are medic units, so there is a focus on having higher trained personnel out on the street," Chief Jones said. "So we have added four new medic units, we are waiting for the other two to go in place. As far as response times, we meet all of our key performance indicators and all of our firefighters are trained as EMTs, so there is no lack of service on the EMS side."

Chief Jones said that although his status is interim, he would like to keep the job when the next mayor takes over, according to the report.

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