Originally created 04/13/02

Chief blames staff for errors



WASHINGTON - Fire Chief Ronnie Few says a staffer at his former department in Augusta is to blame for errors on the resume submitted to the Washington City Council at the time of his nomination.

"The chief didn't lie on the resume," Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Bass said Friday. "The chief transmitted information about his background to an administrative staff person (in Augusta) and mistakes were made at that point."

Ms. Bass said that whoever prepared the resume mixed up organizations and made mistakes in transcribing information.

The resume submitted to the city council was attached to a letter from Mayor Anthony A. Williams nominating Chief Few for the job. It said that Chief Few graduated from Morris Brown College in Atlanta and was selected 1998 Fire Chief of the Year by the International Association of Fire Fighters, a labor group affiliated with the AFL-CIO.

It turned out that Chief Few had attended Morris Brown for only one academic year, 1971-72, and the association never gave him such an honor.

"Chief Few is who he says he is. He has testified to that two years ago," she said. "These discrepancies came up during the council hearing. He corrected those mistakes at that time."

In a letter to the Washington mayor, council member Kathy Patterson said Mr. Williams should "either clear the air on this matter immediately or replace Chief Few."

In 2000, Washington parks Director Robert Newman was forced to resign after a series of controversies, including one involving inflated titles on his resume.

Last year, the mayor's chief of staff, Kelvin Robinson, was criticized for not revealing he resigned from his previous job after he was accused of giving an unauthorized bonus to an assistant.

Ms. Bass took full responsibility for an incorrect biography the department had in its files and on its Web site. She said she assumed that her copy was correct and that Chief Few never saw the false information.

On the chief's updated biography, it says he earned an associate's degree in fire science from DeKalb College, now known as Georgia Perimeter College, in Decatur, and received two awards from the Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute, a contractor he has hired to run training seminars.

Chief Few also is taking correspondence courses in another fire services-related field from the University of Cincinnati, Ms. Bass said.

The chief was unavailable for comment because he was out of town on a training seminar, Ms. Bass said.

Chief Few, 49, a native of East Point, an Atlanta suburb, became Augusta-Richmond County's first black fire chief in 1997, supervising about 300 firefighters.

As the District of Columbia's fire chief, he directs more than 2,000 employees, including about 1,400 firefighters and paramedics.