Embattled D.C. Fire Department Gets New Equipment, Recruits

The D.C. Fire Department could be going through a "rebirth" phase, as current mayor Vincent Gray announces new equipment for the embattled force.

Gray announced a new ambulance, new fire trucks, new emergency equipment and a couple dozen new fire and emergency recruits Wednesday.

Gray, who's set to leave the mayoral office Jan. 2, said he has rebuilt the fire department, which in recent years has been known for breakdowns, shortages and personnel mistakes.

"We have substantially upgraded where we are... overcoming years of disinvestment," Gray said.

The January 2014 death of longtime D.C. resident Medric Cecil Mills received extensive media attention and scrutiny.

Mills, 77, collapsed in a parking lot at the Brentwood Shopping Center, directly across the street from D.C. Fire Department Engine 26 in Northeast D.C. His daughter and several passersby pleaded for help, but they were told to call 911 instead. Mills passed away. 

Gray said he'd recommend mayor-elect Muriel Bowser keep interim fire chief Eugene Jones at the helm -- Jones "begrudgingly accepted" the recommendations of trial board that lightly disciplined those in charge the day of Mills' death.

"It's completely unacceptable for these firefighters to not respond to a request for emergency medical services," Jones said in August.

Jones came from Prince George's County and is credited with settling widespread personnel problems in the department.

"[The fire department] is ready to go," Gray said.

During the event, a new recruit gained, but an ambulance was nearby and she's doing well.

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