Government of the District of Columbia
D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department
Office of the Fire Chief
Washington, D.C. 20001
To: Mayor Anthony Williams
From: Thomas N. Tippett
Date: April 27, 2000
I have been advised by Deputy Mayor Norman Dong that, due to budget pressures, I am to
immediately discontinue the policies of staffing ladder trucks with five firefighters and
staffing the positions of Aids to the Battalion Fire Chiefs in the Firefighting Division.
As you know, these two staffing positions have been cited in reports following both the
Kennedy Street fire and the Cherry Road fire as major factors that may have contributed to
firefighter fatalities. I have made a solemn promise to the firefighters of this city and
to their families that I would do everything in my power to improve safety and not
unnecessarily place my employees in harms way. Therefore, I cannot in good faith carry out
the directive of the Deputy Mayor.
Reluctantly, I will retire from the D.C. Fire and EMS Department effective April 30,
2000 with 32 years 4 months service.
It has been an honor to serve with and command the true heroes of this city
those we call Firefighters.
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May 5, 2000
Statement of Mayor Anthony A. Williams on Retirement of Interim Fire Chief Thomas
Today Interim Fire Chief Thomas Tippett announced his retirement. Over the past
few months, Chief Tippett has brought new energy to our Fire Department. He has moved
aggressively to acquire new equipment for our firefighters, and has made substantial
strides toward our goal of having the best fire department in the nation.
Since December, with the help of former Control Board Member Stephen Harlan, we
have been conducting a national search for a permanent fire chief. Chief Tippett was among
the candidates for the position. While we were hoping he would remain with us through the
search process, we wish him well.
I have asked Battalion Fire Chief Kenneth B. Ellerbe to serve as Interim Fire
Chief. We expect to bring our search to a successful conclusion and name a permanent
successor in the coming weeks.