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Mayor appoints new fire chief

(Published June 5, 2000)

Mayor Anthony A. Williams used a fire recruit graduation ceremony June 2 to announce his selection of new Fire Chief Ronnie Few after word leaked out that Few and Williams had reached an agreement.

Few, who will officially start his new position as fire chief in the District on July 10 if D.C. City Council confirms his appointment, currently heads the Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department in Georgia. He is expected to be paid $130,000 a year as the District’s fire chief.

Few will be making a leap from running a 350-person department with a $15 million annual budget to running a department with almost 2,000 employees and a $112 million annual budget.

He will replace Donald Edwards, who retired in December under fire for the slow pace of his reforms and controversy over whether he was meeting his legal requirement, as a city department head, to live in the District.

Former firefighters’ union chief Thomas N. Tippett was named interim chief to replace Edwards, but he retired last month after a funding fight with the control board forced him to cut his popular safety programs that restored a fifth firefighter on ladder trucks and aides to battalion chiefs. Interim Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe has served since then.

Few, 47, has been chief of the Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department since 1997. In 1998 he was named Fire Chief of the Year by the International Association of Firefighters and in 1999 he was named Most Innovative Fire Chief of the Year by the International Association of Fire Chiefs.

Few was also investigated by a grand jury probe concerning allegations that he rewarded his top officers in Augusta with raises while not giving sufficient raises to rank-and-file firefighters. No charges have been filed in that probe.

Copyright 2000, The Common Denominator