A new uniform mandate that took effect this year has angered some D.C. firefighters and one is speaking out.
Lt. Robert Alvarado, an 11-year veteran who was severely burned with three others while searching a burning home last April, spoke to WTTG-TV about his displeasure with Chief Kenneth Ellerbe's decision.
Under a directive from Ellerbe sent to firefighters last week, they will be disciplined if they do not comply.
According to the memo sent on Dec. 28, "As of Sunday, January 1, 2012 the DCFD logo will no longer be permissible to be worn on any clothing by members while on duty with the exception of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which will be changed at Department Expense. Any hats, T-shirts or sweatshirts worn as outer garments or any other clothing with the logo will not be tolerated."
Instead, a new "DCFDEMS" logo must appear on uniform accessories.
Equipment not supplied by the department including caps, gloves, sweatshirts and coats now has to be purchased by firefighters out of their own pockets.
"All we are asking is to be is dealt with fairly," Alvarado told the news station. "If you want us to wear a certain item of clothing, issue it to us and we will gladly wear it instead of expecting us to come out of pocket to meet his agenda. We are sworn order takers, but make it fair and give us the tools to do that."
Ellerbe argues that the department supplies over $5,000 in outerwear and equipment, but Alvarado says that isn't true.
"We do get $5,000 worth of gear, but the majority of that is spent on structural firefighting gear that we use to go into burning building," Alvarado said. "It’s a complete outright lie that we are issued outerwear. We are not issued outerwear."
In response to the lieutenant's comments, Ellerbe issued a statement saying:
"The outerwear that I was referring to is the running coat that our firefighters are issued. I would think that the reference to the cost would have indicated what coat I was referring to. Not following orders is insubordination; not having the proper uniform, if we don't have it to issue, (it) is not."