New ambulances and paramedics on the way in DC

4:44 PM, Aug 27, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- DC Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe called it the "toughest Job he's ever had" and few people would disagree; but the job may have gotten a bit easier today. 

The embattled Chief stood in front of a downtown firehouse when the first two of 30 ambulances was shown off to reporters. 60 firefighter cadets were also paraded out along with 9 new paramedics--some of them retired military medics.

Ellerbe has been under fire since a DC Council hearing where staffing and vehicle maintenance deficiencies were first uncovered. Since then vehicles have caught fire on the streets, run out of gas or broken down.

Mayor Vincent Gray today re-iterated his support for Ellerbe saying the lack of vehicles-even after the money was appropriated-predated the chief's appointment.

DC Council member Mary Cheh has called for the fire chief's resignation or firing. Firefighter Union head, Ed Smith has criticized the department's leadership. The Mayor and Chief Ellerbe say there was no capitol budget for routine purchases of vehicles or the procurement system was a problem.

Chief Ellerbe promised the fleet of ambulances would be completed and up to date by year's end. Mayor Gray re-iterated his support for the Chief.

DC Councilman Tommy Wells said by phone, "Its taken way too long" but he's willing to take a fresh look at the fire chief's proposal to re-deploy ambulances putting more vehicles on the streets during the day when the population soars and calls to 911 are at their highest.   

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