The Chief and the ‘Stache


Tagging the Chief

Chief Ellerbe

DC’s all atwitter after a mustache was drawn on a photo of FEMS Chief Kenneth Ellerbe which was then turned upside down at 10 Engine and 13 Truck in the Trinidad neighborhood of Northeast.

Our own Dave Statter and Tom Sherwood, one of DC’s most respected local reporters, covered the story.

Seems like a Deputy gave the troops an ass-chewing and then the Metropolitan Police were called to dust for prints and take a report.

Ellerbe’s response to the hoopla was to call off the dogs and express his disinterest in an investigation.

As is often the case here, it comes down to a neck-and-neck race on who looks more foolish: labor or management.  Labor wins the round, hands down.

Calling the police was as poor a decision as the incident itself.  More importantly, the incident casts firefighters (once again) as adolescent pranksters who are unprofessional.

Did the petty vandalism show a lack of respect for the chief?  What does it mean to respect someone, anyway?

Curiously, they drew a mustache on the chief, a time honored firefighter symbol of courage, tradition and virility.  In their contempt they subconsciously embraced him by tagging him with the tribal totem.

Obviously, some troops are itching to express contempt for a chief, some of whose ideas have folks scratching their heads.  The better way to take him on is to be politically active in the City, including voting.  But, we all know the problem with that idea.  It’s hard to cast your vote from Maryland or beyond.

Whether you respect Ellerbe or not, the real danger is creating or fostering a culture of general disrespect for the City and the people that live and work here.  FEMS or DC Fire, whichever you prefer to call it, has a sordid history of lawsuits emanating from cases where public service took second place to contempt at the worst and laziness at the best.


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