Beer Gifting Citizen Apologizes to DC Firefighters Who Still Await Discipline

Dave Statter had the story last week about a Washington DC firehouse that was shut down by Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe after a case of beer was found in the fridge.

The firefighters were tested for alchohol and all came up negative. However, the firefighters still face discipline for having the beer.

Now, Clem Cypra has come forward as the gift-giver. Cypra brought it to them after they put a fire in his house.

“Last Wednesday, those guys saved my house from burning,” says Clem Cypra in an email. “An AC motor caught fire at 7:45 a.m. I was in the shower. Called at 7:54 a.m., they walked through the door at 8:01 a.m. and put out the fire.”

He went on, “I did what any 36-year-old guy would do — I took them a case of beer.”

Cypra says he was upset to hear that they got in trouble for having the alcohol — a 12-pack of Stella Artois and a 12-pack of Corona.

I must admit that I like Cypra’s taste in beer!

Below is the response to Clem Cypra from Fire Chief Ellerbe

Mr. Cypra,

First of all, thank you for recognizing the work done by our members, all to often our jobs are thankless ones, which we know and accept when we enter them. For the record, there is a process for our department to accept donations which is a more appropriate avenue to pursue in the future. (Please note that it is very difficult to determine the tone of an email, so I’ll state that I do appreciate your effort to say thanks to our members for a job well done.)

Second, and most important, alcoholic beverages are not to be stored on government property. My understanding is that the gift that you bestowed on our members was kept in the fire station for over a week and the 12 pack in question was unopened in the morning and was not only opened but was diminishing through the course of the day! Our rules and regulations specifically forbid our members from placing themselves under the influence of intoxicants. My responsibilities include ensuring that our vehicles are operated in a safe manner and that our employees follow the rules that are in place to ensure the safety of our community and our members. What would you think of me or our department if I was aware of the situation and did nothing, resulting in one of our members driving under the influence and causing harm to another member or someone in the community? I take my responsibilities and the safety of our members and the community very seriously and do not compromise in that area at all. Our members know or should know what the rules are.

I appreciate the gesture that you made and have no regrets regarding the way that this matter was handled despite the media attention, particularly with respect to the unreported facts surrounding this incident.

Thank you again.


Kenneth B. Ellerbe

Here is a video from the original story