Deputy DC fire chief describes culture of fear

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A retiring District of Columbia deputy fire chief has delivered a scathing assessment of Chief Kenneth Ellerbe.

Kevin Byrne told the D.C. Council Friday that Ellerbe has created a culture of fear and intimidation in the department.

Byrne blames that culture in part for the failure of firefighters to help a man who collapsed outside a fire station last month and later died. He says officers and firefighters have been disciplined for breaking protocol to respond to an emergency.

Byrne also says Ellerbe "went to war" with his senior staff and has demoted and disciplined officers and firefighters in unprecedented numbers.

Ellerbe says he was "taken aback" by Byrne's comments. The chief says he has tried to be fair in the administration of discipline.

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