D.C. Firefighters' White House Visit Irks Chief

The three firefighters have to write reports and may face disciplinary measures.


Three D.C. firefighters who stood with other responders behind President Obama during a White House press conference this week may be in hot water with their chief.

D.C. Fire/EMS Chief Kenneth Ellerbe told WRC reporters that the three may have violated departmental regulations.

“I didn’t know about it, the deputy mayor didn’t know about it, the mayor didn’t know about it," Ellerbe told the reporter. "There should be protocol followed anytime one of our employees representing the District of Columbia appears at a public event.”

All three have now been ordered to write reports about how it was that they went to the White House in their Class A uniforms to shake hands with the president of the United States and stand with other area responders.

Ellerbe told the reporter he has a few questions: “How did they get there, why were they there and why didn’t we know about it before?”

Ed Smith, president of Local 36 of the firefighter’s union, explained how it all came about: “The request came through the International Association of Firefighters,” Smith said, adding that it’s not the first time D.C. firefighters have been asked to appear with the president.

Ellerbe balked at a suggestion that he reacted as he has because one of the trio was placed on leave in 2012 for wearing a uniform with an outdated logo.

Another firefighter who got to shake hands with Obama is a rookie, who's still on probation.