The recent mishaps by the District’s Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services would be hilarious if lives weren’t on the line [“The bickering firefighters,” editorial, Aug. 23]: an ambulance in the presidential motorcade that ran out of gas; ambulances found with metal signs in the engine compartment that somehow passed as a repair idea; mass sickouts by the few remaining paramedics in the department; ambulances catching fire; and now an assault complaint against Fire Chief Kenneth B. Ellerbe. And these are just within the past few weeks.

The D.C. Council, under Judiciary and Public Safety Committee Chairman Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), has done an admirable job overseeing the department. This contrasts with Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s administration, which seems out to lunch in dealing with the leadership failures of the barely functioning department. The firefighters union seems little better, and D.C. residents are caught in the crossfire as Local 36 officials and the chief trade blame for the dysfunction of a critical public safety department that is becoming a national embarrassment.

It’s high time for Mr. Gray to step in, make needed personnel changes and do what the voters elected him to do: lead.

Aaron Resnick, Washington

The writer is a volunteer emergency medical technician with the Greater Springfield Volunteer Fire Department.