"Inexplicable move at DC Fire & EMS"

The following has been printed with express permission from Tom Bridge, editor-in-chief of the popular Washington blog We Love DC.

We'll miss you, Pete.

/RL

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Late yesterday, it was revealed that longtime DC Fire & EMS public information officer Pete Piringer, the name behind the amazing @dcfireems, had been shuffled around in a personnel move. Piringer will be moving away from the @dcfireems handle, recently embroiled in a bit of controversy, which saw the account taking a break, and a lot of concerns and accusations flying about the role of the twitter account.

For me, the account’s purpose is simple and obvious: provide realtime information about serious fires and other emergencies in the DC area, as well as contact information for the media to get updates. Piringer has done the job with incredible aplomb for the last few years, keeping the media and public, alike, abreast of the situations

This afternoon, Mark Segraves from WTOP broke the news that the mayor’s office may have been involved in Piringer’s ouster: “Piringer was prolific in his tweeting of breaking news and information, but sources inside the mayor’s office say there was blowback from other agencies that Piringer’s tweets were making them look slow and unresponsive.”

While everyone involved is saying the right things, this move stinks to high heaven of transferring a popular and effective member of the staff to an exile they don’t deserve under the guise of a promotion or temporary assignment. Piringer will move from the DC Fire & EMS department to the rough and tumble excitement of the Office of the Secretary.

If you, like me, had no idea what the Office of the Secretary is, well, read this delightful description of their mission: “The Office of the Secretary provides protocol, authentication and public records management services to the Mayor and District government agencies.  In addition to managing the District of Columbia’s Archives, commissioning all District of Columbia Notaries Public, and publishing the District of Columbia Register and the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (DCMR), the Office of the Secretary is responsible for maintaining official records of mayoral actions, receiving legal process for actions against the Mayor, and preparing executive orders, proclamations, directives, and administrative issuances.

Sounds riveting.

No question they need a top-notch PIO, who can respond at a moment’s notice about…the latest proclamation from the Mayor honoring someone.

Right.

This is another move by the Gray Administration that has to leave me scratching my head. While I’m sure any city agency could use the likes of Piringer (with the exception of perhaps DDOT, who has John Lisle, and DCRA, who has Helder Gil, both of whom are as good as Piringer has been at DC Fire & EMS), it seems odd to move him to the obscurity of the Office of the Secretary. Though, with him there, I expect to see a high profile for the newest notary publics and mayoral proclamations that are likely to come down the pike.

Otherwise, the picture is a whole lot less rosy, making it appear that the Mayor and his cabinet love lazy cronyism more than we had already thought.

So far, the new @dcfireems leaves a lot to be desired.

While Piringer would often toss in reminders to change your smoke alarm batteries, there was about 90% meat and 10% fluff in that account, while now it seems to be photo ops and cloying preparation tweets.

So, with everyone saying the right things, but doing the wrong ones, I suppose all we can do is say, “if this is really a matter of making this other place great, let’s see it be great, and if you think you can do it without making @dcfireems suck, prove it. So far Gruff the crime dog is not convincing us.”

Don’t fuck up a good thing, Mr. Mayor. You’ve done enough of that already.

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I'm not sure what's more sad: the news revealed within the above article, or the forlorn and disgruntled comments. It's a shame to think that any of the brothers could think "it's not that I shouldn't have been a firefighter… but that I shouldn't have become one here."

 

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Alex Capece

Washington, D.C. Firefighter and Paramedic

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