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Praise 104.1

The mounting controversies surrounding D.C.’s fire department and its chief, Ken Ellerbe, has led one member of the city’s council to call for his resignation.  D.C. Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh called for Ellerbe to resign in a letter to fellow councilman Tommy Wells. The letter, dated Tuesday, indicates that Cheh believes that residents of the D.C. have lost confidence in Ellerbe’s ability to effectively lead the department and protect the city. Cheh’s call for Ellerbe to resign comes less than a week after Wells and the D.C. Council rejected a department plan to redeploy the citys maligned ambulance fleet to busier times and locations based on need. City officials said that the fleets state of disrepair, issues with overtime payments and consisitent staffing shortages made the plan untenable. The committee believes that approval of this plan could have serious consequences for public safety and so cannot, in good conscience, recommend approval at this time,” Wells said last Friday. After the rejection, Cheh hinted that she thought Ellerbe should quit. “Unless he has an immediate response that has some comprehensive plan we could have confidence in, then he should be looking for something else,” Cheh says. Serious problems with ambulance deployment and response times came to a head in March when an MPD motorcycle officer was hit by a car in Southeast Washington. Three units that were supposed to be on duty but improperly declared themselves out of service did not respond, and the officer had to wait nearly an hour for mutual aid from a PG county ambulance. Several city employees were disciplined after the incident, and a subsequent report noted that nearly half of the city’s fleet of ambulances were out of service. On Monday, more revelations of malfeasance against the department surfaced. Several sources say that in at least three instances, D.C. Fire inspectors manipulated inspection reports at a trio of Northwest Washington businesses. The department has also faced allegations of sexual abuse of female firefighters and recruits.