D.C.'s new fire chief, Kenneth Ellerbe, is speaking out following a FOX 5 investigation report detailing one firefighter who made hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime for years. One D.C. Council Member called it outright abuse.
Ellerbe says he wants transparency and accountability and promises it will happen quickly.
On Monday, a FOX 5 report explained how one firefighter took home more than $300,000 dollars in pay during the last two years because of the extreme amount of overtime he earned. Payroll records obtained by FOX 5 shows he racked up nearly 2,500 hours in overtime the last two years and he earned more than $153,000 dollars in overtime pay.
Ellerbe also commented about another FOX 5 investigation involving the case of Natalie Overton. She has been on paid administrative leave for possibly as long as three years as the department sat on her discipline case. During that time, she earned as much as $255,000.
Ellerbe is now inheriting these problems and during his first interview as DC Fire and EMS Chief with FOX 5, he admitted the department has some major issues.
The chief hinted that fairness is an issue and he doesn't like what has been happening. He promised a top-to-bottom review of the department and said that even top brass will be held accountable if necessary.
Ellerbe also said he will stick to the guidelines set by the council, which means overtime is capped at $20,000.
Ellerbe says he has already spoken to D.C. Council Member Phil Mendelson and the Union Leadership.
As fire chief, Ellerbe will have to deal with a class action discrimination lawsuit, allegations of disparity in pay and discipline among members. Ellerbe said it is possible that an outside panel will be necessary, like a civilian review panel, to assure transparency.
Ellerbe comes to the department as a 27-year firefighter veteran. He was the former deputy fire chief for D.C. Fire and EMS and was most recently the fire chief in Sarasota, Fla.