D.C. Fire Chief Theodore R. Coleman said yesterday he had abandoned plans to change the titles of ranking fire chiefs to correspond with military ranks, such as major, colonel and general.

The plan had been under consideration, Coleman said, to help the public distinguish among battalion, deputy and assistant fire chiefs. But, he said, the idea has been scrapped because "we like to continue holding on to tradition to some degree."

The idea was conceived about eight months ago when the fire department changed insignias to match military ranks, Coleman said. He said the old insignias -- small round medallions inscribed with different numbers of bugles to indicate rank -- were confusing to the public.

"The citizens don't know what a horn means," he said. "This is something for the citizens to recognize at a glance."

Under the new system, lieutenants wear one bar, captains have two bars, battalion chiefs have a major's gold leaf, deputy chiefs wear a colonel's eagle and assistant chiefs have one star on their collars.

In a regularly scheduled news conference, Coleman also said that 13 captains recently detailed to positions as "acting" battalion chiefs were not "promoted," as reported in a Nov. 13 story in The Washington Post.

The story reported details of a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court by 25 white captains alleging that they were discriminated against because of race in the selection of the detailed positions. Five black captains were selected ahead of the 25 whites, who the lawsuit mantained had "superior" qualifications.

Coleman also said that the department had abandoned a plan to raise money for the coffee fund by selling pizzas at firehouses. He said the idea was scrapped because of "negative information" about the program.