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Small Band Of Protesters Rally Behind Embattled D.C. Fire Chief

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Various D.C. legislators have called on D.C. Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe to resign.
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Various D.C. legislators have called on D.C. Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe to resign.

After a call for the D.C. fire chief to step down, supporters are rallying behind the embattled city leader.

Over a dozen supporters of Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe held a rally on Monday morning at the Wilson Building. Carrying signs saying "Let the Chief Do His Job," the protestors called for D.C. Council members to reign in their criticism of Ellerbe.

Last week, Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) called for Ellerbe's resignation, stating in a letter that the "the agency's ability to respond to emergencies has been significantly degraded'' and that Ellerbe "no longer has the confidence of the people of the District.''

But the protesters' anger was largely directed at Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), who chairs the committee that oversees the fire department. Wells recently released a committee report blasting the department for being in disarray, saying that the city's fleet is in disrepair and that the department suffers from a ballooning overtime budget and a shortage of ambulances and paramedics.

Wells met with the protesters, urging them to read his committee report on the fire department and saying that it his job to make sure the the agency is doing its job. But he also said he agrees with the protestors in one sense—he called Cheh's statement asking for Ellerbe's resignation "a hollow gesture."

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