Fire Recruits Ordered to Work Councilman's Parties

Graham hosting holiday, birthday parties

D.C. fire academy recruits will be dishing out food and drinks at a council member's ward parties instead of spending time at the academy learning how to save lives, the DC Examiner reported.

Dennis Rubin, D.C. fire chief, will have his 32 recruits and their instructors serve as waiters and hosts at Councilman Jim Graham's holiday party. Just four months ago, the recruits assisted with a birthday party for Graham, according to the newspaper.

If the parties took away training time from the cadets, Graham said he would decline their service. He said he's been assured by Rubin that is not the case, the paper reported.

Kenny Lyons, head of the District's paramedics union, opposes the idea. Using District employees to further aid a political figure, such as Graham, is a violation of the Hatch Act, he said. It is against the law for government employees to engage in partisan political activity while on duty or in uniform, the DC Examiner reported.

Both Graham and Rubin believe the parties are not political and do not break any laws. The parties are by invitation only, but they will not turn deny anyone admittance, Graham's office said.

The recruits duty is expected to cost District taxpayers more than $4,000 and take about six hours to cover cleaning, traveling, and assisting attendees, the fire department member said.

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