• ETC
  • Aug 17, 2013
The International Association of Firefighters, Local No. 36, Washington, D.C.'s firefighter union chapter, is concerned about the alarming number of breakdowns in the District's ambulance fleet and recommends investigations into its state of disrepair, implying that D.C. Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe should be held responsible.

An alarming number of embarrassing mishaps involving the fleet has brought scrutiny to fire department management and to the upkeep of its vehicles, which recently have caught on fire, shut down due to malfunctions mid-response, had road signs installed as heat shields – yes, you read that right... see the image above – and ran out of gas while detailing President Obama's motorcade. From July 19-26, during a heat wave, 67 ambulances in the 94-strong fleet were brought in for repairs at least once, and 22 required repairs more than two times. Many of the breakdowns were related to air-conditioning systems, which were under more stress during the heatwave, The Washington Times reports.

And how did the vehicle maintenance crew handle the A/C repairs? That's where the heat-shields road signs come in. Deputy Mayor Paul Quander confirmed in a statement that, to protect A/C systems, temporary heat shields made of road signs were installed, which have since been removed from the vehicles, the Washington City Paper reports. Check out a news video and the Local 36 press release that we included below.
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Local 36 Press Release On Ambulance Fires!

August 14th, 2013 - Local 36 is very concerned at the recent events concerning our apparatus fleet. Local 36 is steadfast in our belief that the safety and welfare of our members and the public remains paramount above all other issues.

As always, DC Fire Fighters Association Local 36 welcomes any and all investigations into the root cause of these mechanical breakdowns. In fact we recommend that NIOSH or the National Transportation Safety Board be brought in to investigate the whole Fire & EMS fleet for any and all safety violations.

The attached picture is an example of what fire fighters are forced to try and work with on a daily basis. Yes, that is a parking sign jammed into the motor as a make shift heat shield. You be the judge?

The only thing "untoward" behind these ambulance fires is the complete neglect by those in charge to make sure our fleet is properly maintained. Casting loose and broad accusations at the feet of the rank and file membership continues to be the standard response from fire department leadership. Time and again these accusations have been and will continue to be unfounded.

It is absolutely unacceptable that Kenneth Ellerbe's priority was making sure new logos were put on all the apparatus by our maintenance shop at the expense of preventive maintenance and proper repair of apparatus.

Isn't it time the fire chief was held responsible for this mess?


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  • 26 Comments
      SloopJohnB
      • 1 Year Ago
      What do you expect from a kleptocracy overseen by incompetents? The number of paramedics per capita is less than 1/2 the average of major cities in the US. The firefighters that are there I suspect are doing the best they can under the circumstances they live within. Oh, yeah...the 'diversity' rules that govern the top brass appointments and promotions do NOTHING to help the professionalism of the DC fire department. They need a Kathy Lanier to run the fire department.
      ghelton88fan
      • 1 Year Ago
      The one's they showed are Ford's about 2004-5 models. They must have 300k miles now. The stresses these vehicles go through are horrendous. They should replace them every 4-5 years, not 8-10. We have a Pierce facility in Bradenton, FL that would be happy to build some new one's for them.
      Termin8
      • 1 Year Ago
      I was a fleet manager for 20 years and was never impressed with the build quality of those vehicles.
        Joseph
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Termin8
        agreed, nearly impossible to access anything under the hood, insuffecient cooling systems, and prone to oil fuel and coolant leaks...........have seen a number of engine fires due to coolant leaks...EG burns like sterno
      brennemanbelkin
      • 1 Year Ago
      Need to go to the hospital? Call a cab. Twice as fast and ten times cheaper.
        Just Stuff
        • 1 Year Ago
        @brennemanbelkin
        More like 50. I work in DC and my office building is less that 2 miles from GW Hospital and when my office had to call an ambulance for me on day the bill for it was almost $600.
        propackage
        • 1 Year Ago
        @brennemanbelkin
        only ten times?
      kingrat001
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm shocked that a transport company would be caught doing shoddy repairs! Well, no, I'm not. I would be shocked if they didn't do shoddy repairs.
      Avinash Machado
      • 1 Year Ago
      Scary stuff.
      RGT881
      • 1 Year Ago
      Hmm...I can't believe it this was somewhere else other than Detroit.
      desta81
      • 1 Year Ago
      Fire at the passenger dor sill - interesting place for a fire. I guess the battery box could be located below. The video looks fake, like when "dateline" crashed into GM trucks with outboard mounted fuel tanks.
      Rich
      • 1 Year Ago
      Im sorry, but to classify a A/C issue as "break-down", no. Statisticians need to have some context here, break downs are when the vehicle literally shuts down and will not continue without the aid of a tow-truck. Fleet vehicles requires massive amount of repairs due their nature of being used 24 hrs a day 7 days a week. Did the heat sheilds work?
        Nemebean
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rich
        "Did the heat sheilds work?" Honestly, that was my first question. According to the article they were already removed, so they weren't intended as a permanent fix, and if it got things up and running again in a pinch then I say good for the mechanic. As to why such a fix was necessary, I think the other commenters have already covered that quite admirably. :-)
      arenadood
      • 1 Year Ago
      Union Mechanics repairing Union Drivien vehicles. Why is this story a suprise at all.
        Joseph
        • 1 Year Ago
        @arenadood
        more likely these are ford powerstrokes in which engine fires are common in the E450 configuration.
        brukcm
        • 1 Year Ago
        @arenadood
        It's far more likely that the maintenance has been outsourced to a non-union company that has no standards of competence for their mechanics.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @brukcm
          You can be sure that all of the technicians are ASE certified UNION or not these vehicles are put under extreame stress during their daily operations. Also a n old street sign is an excellent heat shield . Re purposed heavy gauge aluminum. If they had painted them black no one would have paid any attention to them.
      Suzq044
      • 1 Year Ago
      Need more of these: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8107/8473859911_60893e96cd_h.jpg
        Jesse Gurr
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Suzq044
        You mean new ambulances? I'm sure they would love them. :D
      delsolo1
      • 1 Year Ago
      I would have to question any reports from the Washington Times or as its better known as the Moonie Times.
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