D.C. Firefighters Criticized, Face Dismissal, Get Pay Hike

Within hours of a scathing report detailing how firefighters didn't respond to help a collapsed man within steps of their firehouse, it was announced that they're getting a raise and have a new contract.

In addition to the failure of firefighters to act, investigators noted in a  report Friday that there also were issues with personnel at the 911 center.

In the next three years, however, firefighters in the nation's capital will get a 10 percent pay raise, city officials said.

Five firefighters, including a lieutenant and a probie, were in the station on Rhode Island Avenue last month when people came seeking help for a man who had collapsed at a shopping center across the street. 

The lieutenant has since put in paperwork to retire, and others have been suspended. But, the family of Cedric Mills, the longtime city worker who died, wants them fired.

Here's a description investigators found of how the incident started after the probationary firefighter first learned about a man down:

"The Prob.-FF, who was manning the watch desk in the front of the fire station, placed a call on the Public Announcement (PA) system asking for the Lt. to report to the watch desk. Shortly thereafter, the Prob.-FF opened the station’s apparatus doors to discover a white Toyota in the driveway and the driver stating
“[t]here’s a man across the street that needs help.” The driver pointed to the area across the street by the liquor store. 

"The Prob.-FF made a second announcement, a minute or two after the first 
announcement, on the PA system asking for the Lt. to come to the floor and that it was urgent.
The Lt. failed to respond to either request to come to the watch desk for the 'urgent' matter."

Three firefighters in the kitchen also heard the pages, and one suggested another go see what was going on, they noted. 

"FF-1 returned to the kitchen area and informed FF-2 and FF-3 that the “rookie had a man down across the street so I let Lieutenant know we should be going on this run. FF-1 subsequently gathered his personal items and study books from his car and went to the bunkroom..."

When the firefighter told the lieutenant there was a report of a collapsed man down across the street, she sent him to get the address. Instead, he went to his car to get books to study.

Meanwhile, people calling 911 were telling dispatchers the location was in NE not NW. Units, however, were being sent to the wrong section of the city.

A police officer eventually flagged down a passing ambulance to get help for Mills, who was in cardiac arrest. He was transported to a hospital and pronounced dead.

Some D.C. elected officials say that's the last straw, and Chief Kenneth Ellerbe needs to go.

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