In recognition of your initiatiative here’s your suspension

Today’s Washington Post reports (on page 4??) that Lt. Gerald Burton, a DC firefighter, has been dealt a two day suspension without pay for putting out a fire.

I’m trying to keep an open mind about this and consider the possible reasons this could be a valid disciplinary action. Was Lt. Burton not running with a full compliment of crew and this an unsafe course of action? Are there certification issues, given that he was on his way to a training class – perhaps there’s periodic refreshers he or his companion on the truck needed. The WaPo article is somewhat one-sided – there seems to be no official word from the DCFD, even a “we cannot comment on pending” blah blah blah.

However it’s hard for any of us who’ve dealt with city government to not wonder if this is simply business as usual in DC, with any sign of self-guidance being stomped on. Would anyone who went beyond orders to try to bring attention to the massive embezzlement going on have been disciplined for disobeying a direct command? it’s pretty hard for me to figure out what justifies not just a statement on someone’s record but taking two day’s work away from them… for being possibly too aggressive – if that’s possible – in putting out a fire and protecting lives and property.

UPDATE: I mailed the DC FD public information officer (his phone number went to voicemail), the correspondence after the jump

I sent the following:


I’m curious if the department has any additional information or statement on the Burton suspension beyond what the Washington Post is reporting. [story link]

In particular I’m wondering if there’s any additional considerations regarding the proposed suspension beyond the basic disobeying of a superior officer or elaboration on why a truck would be told not to begin fire suppression if they’re the first on the scene.

If you prefer you can call me at [redacted so poo poo doesn’t call me to tell me how much VA sucks]

Don Whiteside,
DC Metroblogging

The (somewhat disingenuous, I’d say) reply I got:

Nobody has been suspended.

We do not comment on on-going investigations.

I’ll concede I could have said proposed suspension in both places rather than just one, but a simple dismissal of the matter that way seems misleading. There must be an ongoing matter or I wouldn’t have gotten the “we do not comment” line after the *ahem* initial comment. So if this is hair-splitting over the fact that the suspension is simply proposed and Lt Burton has not yet officially decided if he’s taking the matter to the trial board, well, I think that’s a little misleading to state before closing discussion with a “no comment.”

2 Comments so far

  1. Tiff (unregistered) on December 18th, 2007 @ 12:45 pm

    As the commenters on the WaPo article correctly point out… can you imagine the outcry if Lt. Burton had ignored the people flagging him down and asking for his help? Can you say PR nightmare? They ought to be patting him firmly on the back for saving them from their own idiocy.

  2. Sean Robertson (unregistered) on December 18th, 2007 @ 4:31 pm

    That photo begs a question: What happened to 21P anyway? All I knew is one day it was suspended and now there’s a new restaurant going in there. Anyone got the dirt on that?

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