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D.C. Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe To Retire

Kenneth Ellerbe will stay on the job until July 2.
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Kenneth Ellerbe will stay on the job until July 2.

D.C. Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe will retire effective next month, according to an announcement by D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray on Thursday morning.

Ellerbe has served the city for more than 30 years and has headed the 2,000-member department since January 2011. Assistant Chief Eugene Jones will be promoted to Interim Fire Chief in his stead.

“This was a dream for me when I became a firefighter in 1982. I will be eternally grateful to Mayor Gray for believing in me. He showed tremendous strength and fortitude in allowing me to do this job,” Chief Ellerbe said.

There have been calls for Ellerbe to resign for more than a year. The city's firefighters union gave him a vote of no confidence last year, and this was followed by calls to resign by, among other people, D.C. Council member Mary Cheh.

The fire department has faced criticism for the death of an elderly man after firefighters ignored calls for help from bystanders across the street from their station.

At a mayoral debate hosted at the WAMU 88.5 Media Center earlier this year, Mayor Vincent Gray was the only one of eight candidates who said he would keep Ellerbe on as fire chief.

“I’d like to thank Chief Ellerbe for all his years of service to the people of our city,” said Mayor Vincent C. Gray in a statement. “His effort and dedication have been commendable, and I wish him well in all his future endeavors.”

Ellerbe's retirement will be effective July 2.

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