D.C. Firefighter Relieved of Duty After Refusing “Soft Posting” in SE

A D.C. firefighter has been relieved of duty after refusing an assignment to "soft post" -- act as a crime deterrent -- in a Southeast neighborhood.

D.C.'s deputy mayor for public safety uses "soft postings" during late-night hours. Engine 30 was issued an order, according to D.C. Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe, to "soft post" at East Capitol Street and Benning Road SE Thursday night.

Ellerbe said two firefighters from Engine 30 refused the assignment, one of whom was relieved of duty.  

"That is insubordination," Ellerbe said. "He was disruptive and disrespectful."

News4's Shomari Stone reported that the firetruck, which was initially out of service following the incident, was back on the street by 11 p.m. Thursday.

News4 first reported on these "soft postings" late last year, when D.C. Council member Kenyan McDuffie said he asked for help from city administrators after a series of crimes in the Trinidad neighborhood.

"What they've been asked to do is man their apparatus in a neighborhood, rather than in a firehouse, to increase visual presence where we’ve seen recent violence," McDuffie explained in December. 

At that time, city officials did not specify how long the strategy would be used. Fire and police union leaders have criticized the program, calling it risky and a "liability."

Ed Smith, head of D.C.'s Fire Fighters Union 36, said firefighters are not trained to respond to crimes and are in jeopardy when placed in high-crime areas.

A D.C. Fire spokesman said the firefighters involved should remain inside their fire engine while deployed street side.

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