Assistant D.C. Fire Chief Maurice D. Kilby, the fire department's second-ranking official as head of operations, was reassigned yesterday to a newly created position for special projects, and sources said the move was the result of dissatisfaction with his job performance.
Kilby's reassignment and the promotions of eight other high-ranking officials, announced by Fire Chief Theodore R. Coleman, create three new posts -- an assistant chief and two deputy chiefs -- that will concentrate on developing special projects for the fire department. However, the responsibilities for the new posts were not spelled out in the announcement.
Replacing Kilby, a 34-year veteran of the fire department, as assistant chief for operations will be Howard E. Dixon, a 27-year veteran who was formerly deputy chief of the firefighting division, according to Coleman's prepared statement.
The reassignment of Kilby, who began as a private in 1954, comes after longstanding and sometimes highly publicized conflicts between him and Coleman.
According to sources, the incident that apparently led to Kilby's reassignment occurred at a barricade situation on Minnesota Avenue SE that began late Oct. 18 and continued into the early hours of the next day. A man who had shot one person and stabbed another held police at bay from inside a house, then set fire to the structure.
According to fire department sources, Coleman, who was in his personal car, called over the department's radio for Kilby, who was commander at the scene, asking for an update of the situation. Kilby responded over the radio that he "didn't have time" to talk to Coleman.
The broadcast, which echoed over the scene of the incident, prompted a meeting two weeks ago between Coleman and City Administrator Thomas M. Downs during which they discussed several problems they had had with Kilby, including the barricade incident, sources said.
According to fire department spokesman Ray Alfred, Kilby's reassignment "is not a demotion. Depending on how you look at it, it's a promotion." Alfred said that one of the special projects Kilby is likely to work on is the department's handling of injured firefighters on "light duty" status.
Coleman and Kilby could not be reached for comment about the incident or Kilby's reassignment.
The best-known clash between the two involved a sign that hung outside Engine Company No. 8 in Southeast that honored the Redskins offensive line, nicknamed the Hogs.
Kilby, without Coleman's knowledge, ordered that the sign, featuring the department's logo with a snorting hog's head painted inside, be removed.
Firefighters at the engine company said they hung the sign because they were proud they were the "first due" at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium in the event of an emergency there.
Mayor Marion Barry went to the firehouse, proclaimed he was "chief booster of the Redskins," and promised he would discuss the issue with top fire officials. Four days later, Coleman visited the firehouse and allowed the sign to go back up.
The other promotions announced yesterday: Hubert Clarke Jr. from acting assistant chief to assistant chief for services; Bernard C. Johnson, from acting deputy chief to deputy chief of the firefighting division; James Tate, from acting deputy chief to deputy chief of the apparatus division; Carl E. Archer, from acting deputy chief to deputy chief of the communications division; Michael C. Tippett, from acting deputy chief to deputy chief of the ambulance division; Wilmer T. Heishman Jr., from battalion chief in the apparatus division to deputy chief of special projects, and Alfred, from battalion chief to deputy chief of special projects.