Previous coverage of this issue
Read more from Mike Ward at Firegeezer
Columnist Harry Jaffe on FEMS for the Washington Examiner
A press release yesterday (see below) from Jack Evans, a long-time member of the City Council of the District of Columbia, has a lot of DC firefighters excited that there is an important ally in their battle to keep the DCFD logo, instead of wearing t-shirts that say FEMS. Evans has introduced a council bill that would allow firefighters to keep their DCFD shirts. In the release, Evans makes many of the same arguments firefighters have. He talks about tradition and the morale issue of forcing firefighters who haven't had a raise in years to fork over their own money to be in compliance. (The release also refers to "New York City’s iconic 'NYFD' logo" which makes you think maybe it's not as iconic as we believe.)
While my original article on this focused on the potential marketing pitfalls of using the DC government shorthand of FEMS, I understand the emotional aspects of such a move and the tradition involved. I also understand pretty clearly the image problem that EMS has faced in the Nation's Capital.
But here is something else I understand that no one seems to be talking about. Something that is written rather clearly in the press release by Evans' staff. While there is a lot of political capital being spent on both sides of the logos and t-shirts issue, the cops now have legislation pending to provide a minimum level of staffing for the department.
In the very same press release outlining the FEMS battle, Evans reports on the introduction of his bill titled “MPD Minimum Staffing Act of 2011”. It is co-sponsored by four of his colleagues. Interestingly Evans does not mention any co-sponsors on the “Fire and Emergency Medical Services Logo Clarification Act of 2011”. Tom Howell Jr. at The Washington Times tells us "Initially, the legislation was cosponsored by Council member Marion Barry, Ward 8 Democrat. However, Mr. Barry after the introduction withdrew his support."
So, at a time when unions across the country are fighting for their existence and losing gains they made in safe staffing levels, the DC police department is bucking the trend and somehow has a bill on the table that would keep a minimum of 4,000 cops on the force.
At the same time, the District of Columbia Fire EMS Department/DCFD/DC Fire/FEMS somehow got itself into a domestic squabble over t-shirts and logos. How unfortunate.
Evans Introduces Police & Fire Legislation
Bills Aimed at Public Safety & Employee Morale
Washington, DC – Councilmember Jack Evans today introduced the “MPD Minimum Staffing Act of 2011” and the “Fire and Emergency Medical Services Logo Clarification Act of 2011.”
The “MPD Minimum Staffing Act of 2011” was co-sponsored by Councilmembers Graham, Bowser, Brown, and Biddle and would require the District of Columbia to retain a minimum staffing level of 4,000 sworn members of the Metropolitan Police Department.
“Chief Lanier recently testified that fewer than 3,800 sworn officers will present significant challenges for our public safety efforts,” said Evans. “This Bill will help to ensure that we never reach a point where our rank and file membership falls below 4,000.”
The “Fire and Emergency Services Logo Clarification Act of 2011” would provide that District firefighters may continue to wear the DCFD logo on their uniforms despite a controversial order from Chief Kenneth Ellerbe requiring all personnel to wear “FEMS,” as well as to pay for certain changes to their uniforms.
“No one is arguing against the policy justifications for elevating the stature of the emergency medical services portion of the department,” Evans said. “However, just look at New York City’s iconic “NYFD” logo, used for a department that serves a number of functions, none of which are suffering because they are not all included in the department’s logo. Around the country, a logo consisting of a city’s initials in front of “FD” is universally recognized and inspires confidence and cooperation from residents.”
“Further, a workforce that hasn’t received a pay increase in five years should not be asked to incur additional out of pocket expenses to purchase re-designed uniforms without any consultation whatsoever.”