Chief Kenneth Ellerbe wants to swap the traditional “DCFD,” which appears on hats, shirts, sweatshirts and jackets, for “FEMS,” or Fire Emergency Medical Services. Ellerbe believes the new logo is more inclusive, since the department battles blazes and provides emergency care for the sick and injured, said spokesman Pete Piringer.

“We want to be more representative of what we do,” Piringer said.

Ellerbe issued an order requiring the changes about two weeks ago, but it was doused with cold water by the firefighters’ union.

“DCFD is a brand name,” said Ed Smith, president of the D.C. Firefighters Association. Smith says the logo has been in use since 1925.

Smith also believes the public will confuse the FEMS logo for one of a federal agency, like FEMA, and he said each firefighter would have to shell out $300 to $400 to buy the necessary gear with the new insignia.

In the wake of the controversy, Ellerbe put the changes on hold for 120 days to discuss them with the public and union officials, Piringer said. Smith said he has proposed a compromise solution to the chief: Keep the DCFD logo, but incorporate “Fire Emergency” above the letters and “Medical Services” below.