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(WENTZVILLE) LAWSUIT BY FORMER FIRE MARSHAL IN WENTZVILLE CLAIMS FIREFIGHTERS FORCED HIS OUSTER (STORY BELOW)

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EMERGENCY RESPONDERS FIGHT FOR ANTHRAX POLICY CHANGE

July 28, 2014 - KSDK

ST. LOUIS - There's a push to get local emergency responders vaccinated against anthrax on a voluntary basis in case of a biohazardous situation in the St. Louis area. Doctors say it takes about 2 months for your body to build up a protective level of antibodies against anthrax. They have to take antibotics to keep them alive if they're exposed to the deadly bacteria.

Judy Brandes prayed her husband, Bill, would come home in one piece after 9/11. He was a Fire Chief for the Creve Coeur District and a HAZMAT responder. In 2001, he responded to more than 200 calls of "white powder scares." Brandes is frustrated with the lack of access that first responders have to the anthrax vaccine, "I just don't feel that I was protecting our men and women and the citizens of area." Brandes say a first responder could've easily been exposed to the deadly bacteria, "All it would take is one real incident, a tear in a suit or a failure of a respirator or a violation of a glove and you can run the risk of exposure to those individuals."

SLU Biosecurity professor Dr. Thomas Zink is also the founding director of Project EQUIPP a national group aimed at protecting emergency personnel. He has been trying to get the federal government to change its anthrax vaccine policy since 2008. Zink says while the CDC supports the preventative vaccinations for emergency responders- no one has begun to vaccinate them through an organized voluntary system. Zink says many first responders aren't vaccinated prior to inspecting a potentially suspicious parcel or package. Dr. Zink says millions of doses are thrown away because they expire in about four years.

Former Homeland Security coordinator for the State of Missouri, Paul Finnewald, calls it wasteful. Department of Homeland Security officials say they are evaluating the anthrax vaccine policy, they released a statement saying.."There is no indication of a specific, credible anthrax attack in the United States at this time. However, due to the risks and consequences associated with a malicious use of anthrax it's important for the federal government to ensure the readiness of the nation's first responders."

Project EQUIPP has several doctors in their organization. They are trying to seek funding so that they can someday purchase the vaccine and begin vaccinating emergency responders on a voluntary basis.

More on KSDK story




FIRE DISTRICT TO SEEK HR CONSULTANT

July 29, 2014 - Newsmagazine Network

WEST COUNTY - The West County EMS and Fire Protection District will seek proposals for providing the district human resources consulting services.

According to Chief Ernie Rhodes (photo left), the district's staff does not include a human resources specialist, but there is a need to have part-time expertise available to address issues and questions that arise periodically and ensure that HR matters are handled appropriately.

Authority to seek proposals for the consulting services was approved by the West County board at its July 21 meeting.

More Headlines for West County Fire




SIX FIRE DISTRICTS IN ST. LOUS AND ST. CHARLES COUNTIES, AND CITY OF JENNINGS, HAVE FIRE ISSUES FOR TUESDAY'S ELECTION

July 23, 2014 - St. Louis County Board of Elections

ST. LOUIS COUNTY - According to the St. Louis County Board of Election Commission, the following fire department propositions will be on the August 5th Primary Election Ballot:


FLORISSANT VALLEY FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT - BOND ELECTION
FOUR-SEVENTHS MAJORITY REQUIRED
PROPOSITION B Shall the Florissant Valley Fire 
Protection District of St. Louis County, Missouri, 
incur an indebtedness of the District in the amount 
of Seven Million One Hundred and Sixty-Five Thousand 
Dollars ($7,165,000) and issuethe bonds of said 
District in evidence thereof for the purpose of 
purchasing real property, constructing, equipping 
and maintaining fire stations and purchasing and 
equipping ambulances and fire protection and firefighting
apparatus and auxiliary equipment therefor?
YES NO

FLORISSANT VALLEY FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT
SIMPLE MAJORITY REQUIRED
PROPOSITION E Shall the Board of Directors of the
Florissant Valley Fire Protection District be authorized
to levy an additional tax of not more than forty cents on 
the one hundred dollars of assessed valuation to provide
funds for the support of the district?
YES NO

MARYLAND HEIGHTS FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT - BOND ELECTION
FOUR-SEVENTHS MAJORITY REQUIRED
PROPOSITION B Shall the Maryland Heights Fire Protection 
District of St. Louis County, Missouri, issue its general 
obligation bonds in the amount of Nineteen Million Dollars 
($19,000,000) for the purposes of purchasing real property,
construction and rebuilding the fire station at 12828 Dorsett 
Road, renovating the fire station at 2600 Schuetz Road, 
equipping and maintaining fire stations and purchasing and 
equipping ambulances, fire protection and fire-fighting 
apparatus and auxiliary equipment therefor?
YES NO

PATTONVILLE FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT
SIMPLE MAJORITY REQUIRED
PROPOSITION E Shall the Board of Directors of the 
Pattonville Fire Protection District be authorized to 
levy an additional tax of not more than forty-five cents 
per one hundred dollar assessed valuation to provide 
funds for the support of the ambulance service?
YES NO

ROBERTSON FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT
SIMPLE MAJORITY REQUIRED
PROPOSITION F Shall the Board of Directors of the 
Robertson Fire Protection District be authorized to 
levy an additional tax of not more than fifty cents 
on the one hundred dollars assessed valuation to provide 
funds for the support of the District and to maintain 
the present level of emergency medical and fire services?
YES NO

CITY OF JENNINGS
SIMPLE MAJORITY REQUIRED
PROPOSITION R Shall the Riverview Fire Protection 
District extend its boundaries to include all property 
within the City of Jennings presently served by the 
Jennings Fire Department?
YES NO
ST. CHARLES COUNTY FIRE DISTRICT BALLOT ISSUES FOR AUGUST 5th ELECTION


WENTZVILLE FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT PROPOSITION L 
SIMPLE MAJORITY REQUIRED. 
BALLOT WORDING:  In order to provide families and 
businesses with enhanced services that include needed 
personnel to respond more efficiently to emergency fire, 
rescue and medical incidents, these measures will enable 
the personnel to meet the demands of one of the fastest 
growing fire districts in Missouri, shall the Board of 
Directors of the Wentzville Fire Protection District be 
authorized to levy a 25-cent tax per one hundred dollars 
assessed valuation to employ a training officer to assist 
the District in meeting educational standards and hire 
additional full-time Firefighters to provide Advanced Life 
Support care while reducing response times to emergency calls? 

WENTZVILLE FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT PROPOSITION F FOUR-SEVENTHS MAJORITY REQUIRED. BALLOT WORDING: In order to significantly reduce response times for the entire 88-square-mile coverage area of the District, the bond will allow the Fire District to purchase property and construct fire stations in order to reduce response times by up to 60 percent; replace aging, high-mileage fire trucks to meet current safety standards; purchase technologically Advanced Medical Life-Saving equipment for all fire trucks; and repay leases and certificates of participation for said District, shall the Wentzville Fire Protection District be authorized to issue bonds in the amount of Thirty Million Dollars ($30,000,000) for the purpose of purchasing of real property, constructing, equipping and maintaining fire stations and purchasing and equipping fire protection and fire fighting apparatus and auxiliary equipment and repay leases and certificates of participation?

St. Louis County Board of Elections




LAWSUIT BY FORMER FIRE MARSHAL IN WENTZVILLE CLAIMS FIREFIGHTERS FORCED HIS OUSTER

July 28, 2014 - St. Louis Post Dispatch

WENTZVILLE - The former fire marshal of the Wentzville Fire Protection District filed a federal suit Monday against the district and three board members, claiming he lost his job in part because of his disagreement with union firefighters over his backing of a board candidate in 2013.

In August, Joseph Heitkamp was placed on indefinite unpaid administrative leave because of his "inability to perform the essential job function required of the fire marshal relative to investigation of fires," according to a letter from the district.

But in Heitkamp's suit, he claims his backing of James Peanick for an open seat on the district's board of directors made him a target of bullying by firefighters, and ultimately led to the loss of his job.

Current Fire Chief Mike Marlo referred questions to District Attorney Dan McLaughlin. McLaughlin, reached late Monday, said that the district had not been served with a copy of the suit.

"Even if we were, it's an ongoing personnel matter, so we wouldn't be able to respond," he said.

District firefighters are members of Local 2665 of the International Association of Fire Fighters; they backed Robert Manieri for the board position, donating in excess of $38,000 to his campaign, according to court documents.

"This was done to ensure that a majority of the district's board, which among other things approves the firefighters' compensation package (wages and benefits) would support and act in the interest of the union," the suit says.

In January 2013, after Peanick filed as a candidate, two firefighters - David Marlo and Jesse Hakenwerth - questioned Heitkamp about whether he had encouraged Peanick to run for the board, the suit alleges. Heitkamp and Peanick are longtime friends, said Heitkamp's attorney, Lynette M. Petruska.

Heitkamp complained on Jan. 9 to then-Chief Randy Bornhop about the harassment, the suit claims.

On March 6, 2013, Heitkamp made the following post to his personal Facebook account after it was announced that St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay was leading challenger Lewis Reed, who had the backing of the firefighters' union: "Reed trying to use the race card and all of his union 'thug' buddies went down to defeat ... so sad!"

Afterward, union firefighters stepped up their harassment, the suit alleges. Later that month, Marlo and another firefighter, Bryan Notheis, paced in front of Heitkamp's office at the district, carrying a sledgehammer, the suit says. One or both of them began smashing objects with the sledgehammer outside Heitkamp's office. One or both of them discharged what sounded like a pistol blank or firecracker outside Heitkamp's door.

In addition, Heitkamp was falsely accused of several things, including bringing a gun to work in June 2012, Petruska said.

Heitkamp was placed on indefinite unpaid leave during a purge of top officials. Bornop resigned and later took a $125,000 buyout. Assistant Chief Robb Watkins was terminated, and Fire Inspector Chris Newbold was laid off.

At the time, the district said a drop in district revenue had been caused by changes in the Missouri Legislature that affected permit fees generated from single-family residential inspections. As a result, the district was restructuring the Fire Prevention Bureau.

After Bornhop left, the district hired Mike Marlo, the father of one of the firefighters who allegedly harassed Heitkamp, as chief. The district hired union secretary John Schneider as the assistant chief, the suit says.

Heitkamp's suit claims that firefighters tried to force him to retire at age 56, and when he refused, he was removed from every committee he served on with the district.

In addition, Heitkamp claims he was discriminated against because he was diagnosed in January 2012 with a mild case of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The suit does not specify what damages he is seeking.

Since leaving the district, Heitkamp has been hired by the Monarch Fire Protection District as a fire inspector, where he earns about $48,000 less than his $97,352 salary with Wentzville.

Jane Cunningham, director at Monarch, said Heitkamp has been doing an excellent job for the district.

More on St. Louis Post Dispatch story

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NIOSH RAISED CONCERNS FOR FIREFIGHTERS NEAR THE BRIDGETON LANDFILLS

July 26, 2014 - KSDK

BRIDGETON, MO. - A branch of the Centers for Disease Control is now weighing in on the radioactive West Lake Landfill and the neighboring Bridgeton Landfill after a recent report from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health raised concerns for firefighters near the landfills.

The report was done at the request of the firefighters' union because some feel there are still too many unknowns on the other side of this fence. The report found, among other things, the wastes at the landfills have been poorly defined.

It also says equipment used to monitor the underground fire at the Bridgeton Landfill can be compromised by that very fire.

The report says risks to firefighters responding to an emergency could include a landfill collapse and exposure to contaminants in the air.

Matt LaVanchy, assistant fire chief for the Pattonville Fire Protection District tells NewsChannel 5 his department is working with republic services to improve an emergency management plan.

"Between us and the landfill owners we're going to back and write a response to NIOSH and inform that some of the things that they've made suggestions on have already taken place," said LaVanchy.

A spokesman for the landfill says the report, which was requested in February, is outdated. He also says it doesn't reflect progress made between landfill crews and first responders.

More on KSDK story

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FLAMES ENGULF LAKE ST. LOUIS APARTMENT COMPLEX CARPORT; 32 CARS DESTROYED

July 28, 2014 - KTVI

LAKE ST. LOUIS - Residents at an apartment complex in Lake St. Louis woke up to their cars on fire Monday morning. Shortly before 3 a.m. police say 32 cars at the Cedar Lake Apartments near I-64, were damaged and or destroyed after a massive carport fire. The first fire truck on the scene struck a first alarm which brought out roughly seven units including 21 firefighters.

The Wentzville Chief and Assistant Chief also responded to the scene.

No one was hurt and the adjacent apartment buildings were not damaged.

The state fire marshal has been called to investigate.

More on KTVI story

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FIREFIGHTER PROMOTIONS AND SWEARING IN CEREMONY

July 25, 2014 - Monarch Fire Protection District

CHESTERFIELD - The Monarch Fire Protection District is proud to announce the promotion of three employees and the swearing in of 6 new employees at the July 24, 2014 Board meeting.

Board President Robin Harris administered the Oath of Office to all who were promoted and sworn in. Congratulations go to Tommy Beauchamp (photo above) who was promoted to Captain, and to Ben Hotop and Brian Patton who were promoted to Engineer.

We would also like to welcome and congratulate Troy Mims, Mike Zluhan, Joe Ruhl, Tim Troup, Kevin Scheurer and Max Norris (photo below - names not in order) who were sworn in as firefighter/paramedics.

CONGRATULATIONS to all of you!

More Headlines for Monarch Fire




BOARD CHAIRMAN DEFENDS DECISION TO SUSPEND CAPTAIN

July 25, 2014 - KMOV

CHESTERFIELD - The Monarch Fire Protection District is defending its decision to place a 15-year-veteran on unpaid leave after he spoke to News 4 in April.

News 4 has learned Captain Chris Gelvin will serve a two day suspension for giving an interview about a Kevlar bulletproof wall that was being built in the district's board room.

"When it was out in the open and we just saw it as another waste of taxpayer dollars by this board of directors who not give taxpayers what they should be knowing anyway," Gelvin said in April.

The district's board president said Gelvin was not supposed to talk about the vests because it was a security matter discussed behind closed doors.

"The locks on the doors are paid for by taxpayer dollars. Would you have him disclose the codes," Robin Harris said.

Gelvin and the firefighters union claim the vests were left out in the open for the public to see and they also said they were not told installations of the vests were confidential.

More on KMOV story

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FIRE DEPARTMENT TAKES CLOSER LOOK AT FOOD TRUCKS AFTER PHILLY EXPLOSION

July 23, 2014 - KMOX

ST. LOUIS - The St. Louis Fire Department is taking a closer look at the safety of food trucks, after a food truck explosion earlier this month in Philadelphia injured more than a dozen people.

The fireball from the propane tank explosion on that Philadelphia food truck shot across a busy street, burning passersby and sending 13 people to the hospital.

In St. Louis, Fire Chief Dennis Jenkierson says there are more than 30 food trucks to keep track of and inspect.

"When we see them in the park gathered for these Food Truck Fridays, we still walk around and make sure that things are secured and things are put on right, because there's always a human error factor," he says. "These tanks are taken off, they're loaded, they're reloaded, so there's always a chance that something could be connected wrong."

Jenkerson admits the food trucks are not inspected daily, and because they are mobile keeping track of them all presents a challenge.

But the fire chief says there are spots checks, especially when several are lined up together.

More on KMOX story

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ST. LOUIS COUNTY POLICE RENEW CALL FOR HELP FINDING SUSPECT IN FATAL FIRE

July 23, 2014 - St. Louis Post Dispatch

ST. LOUIS COUNTY - St. Louis County detectives on Wednesday renewed their call for help finding a woman wanted in a fire that killed a Northwoods woman more than two weeks ago.

Police have been looking for Lakieshia Lane, 36, since the July 6 fire in the 3800 block of Nelson Drive that killed Dana Williams, 49. Police have shifted from calling Lane a "person of interest" to labeling her a suspect in Williams' death.

Lane has not been charged in the fire.

Police say they believe Lane could have left the St. Louis region; she has spoken to police by phone but has so far refused to come in for questioning.

Williams was found dead of smoke inhalation in an upstairs bedroom. She lived in the home with her brother and his girlfriend. Neither was home at the time of the fire.

Anyone who knows Lane's whereabouts is asked to call the St. Louis County police at 314-889-2341 or 9-1-1.

More on St. Louis Post Dispatch story

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MONARCH CAPTAIN GIVEN TWO DAYS SUSPENSION BY BOARD OF DIRECTORS

July 21, 2014 - Newsmagazine Network

CHESTERFIELD - Monarch Captain and Local Union Shop Steward Chris Gelven has been suspended for two shift days after a 3-0 vote by the Board of Directors.

Gelven was brought before the Monarch Board of Directors on July 10 for making statements in April to local media outlets regarding security measures for the Board's meeting room.

"The issue was we don't want, nor should anyone desire, that personnel attempt to divulge security protocols to the public," Board President Robin Harris said.

At the time, Gelven said the Board had chosen to line the wall in front of the Board Member's seats with used bulletproof vests. Protesters had lined Olive Boulevard in front of the Monarch Administration Building, picketing the hearing.

Prior to the July 10 hearing, Brad Peters, Executive Vice president with Local IAFF 2665, said Gelven's comments are protected under the first amendment, and that he was simply discussing a matter of public interests.

"We think it's a free speech right, that the information that he divulged was in no way shape or form confidential," Peters said.

More on Newsmagazine Network story

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RESIDENTS OF APARTMENT BUILDING THAT CAUGHT ON FIRE PRAISE FIREFIGHTERS

July 18, 2014 - KMOV

ST. LOUIS - An apartment fire forced at least 100 people from their homes overnight in west St. Louis.

Firefighters responded to the apartment building, located at 956 Hamilton Avenue, around 1:00 Thursday morning.

They said 100 residents were evacuated, but most have been allowed to return to their home.

FIrefighters said the fire started on the second floor, but they were able to put it out very quickly. Firefighters told News 4 they began to rescue residents shortly after the fire was out.

"Several people in wheelchairs had to be evacuated and carried down the stairs," said Captain Leon Whitener with the St. Louis Fire Department.

Resident Fannie Haynes told News 4 she tried to leave the building but started to choking and struggling to breathe because of the smoke. She said she turned her wheelchair around and went back inside her apartment before hearing a knock at the door.

"They (firefighters) on the door just as I was praying and came in and those two men stayed with me just like guardian angels until everything was over," Haynes said.

The American Red Cross said they are helping a family with food, clothing and shelter after the fire caused damage to their unit. Two additional families, each two adults, received assistance for shelter.

Four people were treated for smoke inhalation.

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COTTEVILLE FIRE DISTRICT GOES SOLAR

July 17, 2014 - KSDK

COTTLEVILLE, MO. - The sun will shine a little more brightly on the Cotteville Fire District.

Three of the four fire stations are being covered in solar panels as a part of joining a state renewable energy program, which is managed through Missouri Ameren Solar.

The program will boost the use of solar energy and reduce cost through energy refunds to participating residents and businesses

People can buy a solar energy system directly or enter into a lease. The Cotteville Fire District will be leasing the solar panels at a 20 year rate, which means they will buy power at a reduced rate, and at the end of their 20 year lease, will renegotiate the terms.

More on KSDK story

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FAMILY DISPLACED, 4 TREATED FOR SMOKE INHALATION IN WEST ST. LOUIS APARTMENT FIRE

July 17, 2014 - KMOV

ST. LOUIS - An apartment fire forced at least 100 people from their homes overnight in west St. Louis.

Firefighters responded to the apartment building, located at 956 Hamilton Avenue, around 1:00 Thursday morning.

They said 100 residents were evacuated, but most have been allowed to return to their home.

The American Red Cross said they are helping a family with food, clothing and shelter after the fire caused damage to their unit. Two additional families, each two adults, received assistance for shelter.

Four people were treated for smoke inhalation.

More on KMOV story

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ROAD RAGE INCIDENT ENDS IN FIRE DEPARTMENT STATION HOUSE

July 16, 2014 - KTVI

RICHMOND HEIGHTS -In Richmond Heights a frightening and unusual case of road rage is under investigation by police.

Authorities have charged 31-year-old Kyle Noonan with DWI and traffic violations.

They say something happened on I-270 and he began rear-ending another vehicle.

The victims in that car drove down I-64 where the road rage continued.

They sought refuge at the Richmond Heights Fire Department driving right through the open garage door of the fire station.

A battalion chief came to their rescue and Noonan was arrested.

More on KTVI story




JENNINGS MAY OUTSOURCE FIRE DEPARTMENT

July 15, 2014 - KTVI

JENNINGS, MO. - The city of Jennings is asking voters to consider outsourcing fire services to the Riverview Fire Protection District.

Voters will head to the polls on August 5th for a measure the mayor says needs to be passed.

"We're balancing our budget on reserves right now and reserves don't last forever," said Jennings Mayor Benjamin Stutphin.

The mayor says the plan will save his city approximately $700,000 a year by shifting the fire duties to Riverview. The flip side is Jennings citizens will be pay more. The city estimates the average home in Jennings is worth $50,000. If Prop R passes, the city says a person owning a home worth $50,000 would pay an additional $237.50 a year.

The city held a forum Tuesday night at city hall. Some citizens spoke against the outsourcing. Some had concerns over their property taxes increasing.

Others questioned whether the city's financial status was as dire as the mayor claims.

A second forum will be held at city hall Saturday at 10 am.

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POLICE SEEK WOMAN IN FIRE DEATH IN NORTHWOODS

July 15, 2014 - St. Louis Post Dispatch

NORTHWOOD, MO. - The St. Louis County Police are seeking a "a person of interest" in their investigation of fatal fire that killed a Northwoods resident on July 6.

St. Louis County police are asking the public's help in finding Lakieshia Lane (photo), 36.

Dana Williams, 49, died of smoke inhalation in the house fire on the 3800 Block of Nelson Drive. She was found in an upstairs bedroom after the 8:30 a.m. fire. She lived in the home with her brother and his girlfriend. Neither were at home during the fire, police say.

Anyone who knows Lane's location is asked to call the county police at 314-889-2341 or call 911.

More on St. Louis Post Dispatch story




MISSOURI BECOMES FIRST STATE TO PASS "PENSION ADVANCE" LAW

May 14, 2014 - OzarksFIRST.com

JEFFERSON CITY, MO. - Missouri becomes the first state to prohibit "pension advances" for public employees.

State leaders say House Bill 1217 will keep companies from preying on retirees, who may be in vulnerable situations.

"Pension advance is sort of like a payday loan, on your pension, so it's doubly worse than a pay day loan," Missouri Treasurer Clint Zweifel said. "Not only are the terms terrible for consumers, but really your retirement security is at risk."

Zweifel said "pension advances" often target public employees like teachers, police and firefighters. He said retirees receive a one-time lump sum, and in return, sign over their pensions for years.

"These entities really fall underneath the radar screen, they're not regulated by traditional banking regulations," Zweifel said. "They have no documented interest rate, [the retiree is] required to take out a life insurance policy, and make the heir the company they're doing business with."

While the law only applies to public retirees, RLB Financial Advisor Robert Baltzell said he doesn't suggest a "pension advance" for anyone.

"That pension is your income, for the rest of your life," Baltzell said. "That's a very big deal."

Baltzell says the one-time advance can look enticing because it averages between $40,000-50,000. He said in some cases, that's only 50% of what the overall pension would have paid in the long run.

"A lot of these have as high as a 106% interest rate," Baltzell said.

He said the key is to take steps beforehand, so retirees aren't forced to considered a "pension advance."

Baltzell said, "Making the plan so well diversified that you can handle storms, you can handle downturns in the market, you can put a plan together where you can insulate yourself."

Missouri Treasure Clint Zweifel said the Attorney General will now be allowed to investigate and prosecute "pension advance" companies.

Zweifel said the law will also allow public retirees to terminate the contract with companies, and also begin the process of retrieving lost funds.

More on OzarksFIRST.com story




JUDGE RULES FOR FIREFIGHTERS IN MONARCH LAWSUIT

July 14, 2014 - Newsmagazine Network

CHESTERFIELD - A St. Louis County Circuit Court judge has ruled in favor of Monarch Fire Protection District firefighters in a lawsuit filed last year challenging the district board's failure to make a promotion to captain from those on an existing eligibility list.

In a decision entered July 8, Judge Mary Elizabeth Ott ruled the Monarch Board of Directors must promote one of the three firefighter/paramedics on the then-current promotion list to a captain's position. Further, the judge said the board cannot conduct any further promotion testing until one of the eligible firefighter/paramedics is named to the captain's position.

Contacted for his reaction to the ruling, Robin Harris, Monarch board chairman, said there never was a question about the promotion eligibility of Thomas Beauchamp II, one of the three on the eligibility list who filed the lawsuit against the district last fall. Instead, Harris said, the issue was one of staffing levels. The question was whether Monarch needed 18 or 21 firefighter-paramedics serving at the captain rank.

Harris said a subsequent staffing level review showed Beauchamp was filling the captain's position a vast majority of the time on an acting basis due to vacation days, sick leave and other time off of those serving as captains. On that basis, Harris continued, the district recently extended an offer to the firefighters to promote Beauchamp to the permanent rank of captain.

"The court said to make a promotion so we did," Harris said, adding that the board already had made the promotion offer before the ruling.

The firefighters' lawsuit was filed last fall. In the aftermath, the Monarch board of directors agreed in a consent order that it would not promote anyone to fill a vacancy for a captain's position in the department other than three employees then on a current eligibility list.

As to further action, Harris said the district's legal counsel has been asked to review the overall decision and to recommend if any other board action is appropriate.

For their part, Monarch's firefighters say the court's decision confirms their charges that the Monarch board violated promotion procedures in the district's collective bargaining agreement with Local 2665 of the International Association of Firefighters.

The union has said that the Monarch board wanted to change how promotion candidate evaluations are conducted and create a new list of qualified candidates after the then-existing list of candidates expired.

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TWO SLEEPING CHILDREN ESCAPE HOUSE FIRE - FIREFIGHTER SUFFERS HEAT EXPOSURE

July 14, 2014 - St. Louis Fire Department

ST. LOUIS - The St. Louis Fire Department responded to the 5000 blk of Arlington for report of a fire. Upon arrival companies requested a first alarm, reporting a 2 stry frame building heavily involved with extension into an occupied 1 stry brick dwelling.

Two sleeping children were assisted to safety by their father and SLMPD'S Officer K. Broom! No smoke detectors were operable in the exposure building. One firefighter was under observation for heat exposure, but not transported.

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NEW ST. PETERS FIREHOUSE DEDICATED

May 14, 2014 - KSDK

ST. PETERS - The public got a chance to take a look at their new St. Peters state-of-the-art firehouse.

The Central County Fire and Rescue Station No. 2 opened in April, but Saturday, it was dedicated to the men and woman who served for the St. Peters Department between 1904 and the 1970s.

The new station features a decontamination room, storm shelter, physical training room and emergency generator among a number of other items.

The Central County Fire & Rescue District is one of the largest in Missouri, covering 72-square miles of St. Charles County.

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MONARCH FIREFIGHTERS WIN LAWSUIT AGAINST MONARCH FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT

July 11, 2014 - St. Louis Post Dispatch

ST. LOUIS COUNTY - Three firefighters in the Monarch Fire Protection District won a lawsuit against the district in a decision by Judge Mary Elizabeth Ott of St. Louis County's 21st Judicial Circuit Court this week. (Case No. 13SL-CC03796).

The district Board of Directors must now immediately promote one of the three Monarch firefighters who sued the district -- Thomas Beauchamp II, Dana Buckley or Craig Sullivan - to captain because of the decision, which also forbids the Board from conducting further testing of promotion candidates until a new captain is chosen.

Beauchamp, Buckley and Sullivan sued the district in October 2013. They charged that the Monarch board violated promotion procedures of the district's collective bargaining agreement with Local 2665, International Association of Firefighters, by not filling a vacant captain's position from an existing list of qualified candidates for promotion.

At the time, the board did not choose from that list of qualified candidates, which included Beauchamp, Buckley and Sullivan. Instead, the board said it would change how promotion candidate evaluations are conducted and, also, that evaluations to create a new list of qualified candidates would occur in November 2013 when the then-existing list of qualified candidates expired.

The new evaluations would not use the traditional practice of relying on senior officers from other fire departments to conduct the process. Instead, Board President Robin Harris and Secretary Jane Cunningham approved a list of names of potential new evaluators. Most of those people did not have previous fire department experience.

Judge Ott's decision this week grants all of the lawsuit's requests by Beauchamp, Buckley and Sullivan, and denies the district's request to reopen the evidence for further legal proceedings.

Brad Peters, executive vice president of Professional Fire Fighters of Eastern Missouri Local 2665, said, "Resolution of this lawsuit in favor of Monarch firefighters Thomas Beauchamp II, Dana Buckley and Craig Sullivan is a win-win situation for several reasons.

"The Judge's decision essentially defies a move by board members Robin Harris and Jane Cunningham to violate our collective bargaining agreement," Peters said. "Also, the decision preserves a successful, objective process of relying on experienced officials from other fire departments to evaluate qualified candidates for promotion within the Monarch district. In addition, it blocks a maneuver by Harris and Cunningham to stack a new candidate evaluation committee with people they could potentially influence or control."

The Monarch Fire Protection District and its Firefighters/Paramedics serve large parts of Chesterfield, Ballwin, Clarkson Valley, Creve Coeur, Maryland Heights and Wildwood, plus parts of unincorporated St. Louis County, Missouri. It covers approximately 63 square miles as an independent taxing authority with a three-member Board of Directors elected to six-year terms.

For more information, contact Brad Peters at (314) 393-9762 or see the website http://www.monarchfirefighters.org.

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COUNTY JUDGE SIDES WITH MONARCH FIRE DISTRICT UNION

July 11, 2014 - St. Louis Post Dispatch

ST. LOUIS COUNTY - A St. Louis County judge has sided with three union firefighters who filed suit last year against the Monarch Fire Protection District.

Associate Circuit Judge Mary Elizabeth Ott ruled Tuesday in favor of Thomas Beauchamp II, Dana Buckley and Craig Sullivan.

The three sued the district in October, contending that the district board violated the collective bargaining agreement between the district and Local 2665, International Association of Firefighters.

Specifically, they said the board wanted to fill a captain's-rank vacancy with a person who was not included on an existing list of qualified candidates.

The ruling means the board will have to select one of the three plaintiffs, all who are on the list, for the vacancy, union vice president Brad Peters said.

Peters said the union also has a suit pending that aims to stop the board from changing the promotion procedure while the current contract is in effect.

Monarch board president Robin Harris was unavailable for comment.

The Monarch district, which has been embroiled in several confrontations pitting union firefighters against the elected board members, covers about 63 square miles in Chesterfield, Ballwin, Clarkson Valley, Creve Coeur, Maryland Heights, Wildwood and unincorporated St. Louis County.

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BALLWIN HOME DESTROYED BY FIRE

July 11, 2014 - KSDK

BALLWIN, MO. - A west St. Louis County home was destroyed Friday by a two-alarm fire that started in the attic.

Firefighters were called to the home in the 400 block of Brass Lamp Drive around 1:30 p.m.

Harry Hamm, a spokesperson for the West County Fire Department, says the fire started somewhere in the attic, but the cause has not yet been determined.

Nobody was injured in the fire, but the home is a total loss.

Volunteers with the American Red Cross have offered assistance to the two adults and four children who lived inside the home.

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ST. CHARLES COUNTY BREAKS GROUND ON NEW FIRE STATION TODAY

Photo of current O'Fallon Fire Protection District Station 1

July 11, 2014 - KMOV

O'FALLON, MO. - St. Charles County breaks ground on a new fire house today.

The O'Fallon Fire Protection District will hold a ceremony at 4:30 p.m.

The new fire station number one is located at 1200 Main, replacing the current station.

The station should be finished in February and is being funded by a voter approved bond issue.

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NO DECISION FROM MONARCH FIRE BOARD ON DISCIPLINE AGAINST CAPTAIN FOR SPEAKING ABOUT BULLET-PROOF VESTS

July 10, 2014 - St. Louis Post Dispatch

CHESTERFIELD - The board of the Monarch Fire Protection District reached no decision at two closed meetings Thursday on disciplinary action against a department captain for talking to the media about the board's plans to buy bulletproof vests for protection during meetings.

The board held a disciplinary hearing for Capt. Chris Gelven at 4 p.m. at district headquarters in Chesterfield, and then went back into closed session after its scheduled 5:30 p.m. open meeting.

Board President Robin Harris said no vote was taken during the meetings and that the board would take up the issue again at next Thursday's closed meeting.

"We don't want to make a snap decision," Harris said. He said the board could chose a range of options: taking no action; a written or oral reprimand; suspension; demotion or termination.

Gelven, a shop steward for the firefighters' union, the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2665, spoke to the Post-Dispatch and other media outlets in April about the vest controversy. The board planned to use them to line a half-wall that sits in front of a desk board members use at meetings.

Gelven said he suspected the vests were a ploy by the board members to make the public think they're scared of the union. "It's just another tactic to make people think we are bad guys," he told the newspaper in April.

About 100 firefighters and supporters rallied at 3 p.m. before the afternoon closed-door disciplinary hearing. They stood at the entrance with waving signs criticizing board members and highlighting the controversy over the vests. Brad Peters, executive vice president of the union who attended the disciplinary hearing, said Gelven did nothing improper.

"Gelven was merely answering questions from a reporter on a matter of public interest," Peters said. "He was basically advising the public of how their tax dollars were being spent."

This is the latest of several controversies in the district. The union strongly opposed the March rehiring of a deputy chief who was fired from the department in 2011 when he was accused of misdeeds. The deputy chief, Cary Spiegel, was rehired as assistant chief.

In May, Chief Tom Vineyard resigned. Earlier this year, Assistant Chief John Borgmann and Batallion Chief Dave Houston also resigned.

The union said the board exceeded the district's 2013 budget by $725,000, including for legal fees of about $230,000 paid to two attorneys who contributed cash to the election campaigns Cunningham and Board President Robin Harris.

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MONARCH FIRE BOARD MAY DISCIPLINE CAPTAIN FOR SPEAKING OUT ABOUT WALL OF BULLET-PROOF VESTS

July 10, 2014 - St. Louis Post Dispatch

CHESTERFIELD - The board of the Monarch Fire Protection District may discipline a department captain for talking to the media about the board's plans to buy bullet-proof vests for protection during meetings.

A disciplinary hearing for Capt. Chris Gelven will be held at district headquarters in Chesterfield this afternoon at 4 p.m. A rally by firefighters and supporters will be held at 3 p.m. before the closed-door meeting.

Gelven, a shop steward for the firefighters' union, the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2665, spoke to the Post-Dispatch and other media outlets in April about the vest controversy. The board planned to use them to line a half-wall that sits in front of a desk board members use at meetings.

Gelven said he suspected the vests were a ploy by the board members to make the public think they're scared of the union. "It's just another tactic to make people think we are bad guys," he told the newspaper in April.

Disciplinary action may include job termination, suspension, or demotion, the union said.

This is the latest of several controversies in the district. The union strongly opposed the March rehiring of a deputy chief who was fired from the department in 2011 when he was accused of misdeeds. The deputy chief, Cary Spiegel, was rehired as assistant chief.

In May, Chief Tom Vineyard resigned. Earlier this year, Assistant Chief John Borgmann and Batallion Chief Dave Houston also resigned.

The union said the board exceeded the district's 2013 budget by $725,000, including for legal fees of about $230,000 paid to two attorneys who contributed cash to the election campaigns of Board President Robin Harris and Secretary Jane Cunningham.

Cunningham, reached Wednesday night, said she could not comment about Gelven because it is a personnel issue.

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ST. LOUIS COUNTY UNVEILS STATE OF THE ART COMMUNICATIONS CENTER

June 9, 2014 - KPLR

ST. LOUIS COUNTY - The brand new St. Louis County Communications Center has opened in Ballwin. It will be home for many important departments including the Emergency Operation Center.

Inside the EOC 14 different pods will be staffed by fire, police, health officials and representatives from every county department when something like a tornado rolls through a neighborhood. The EOC replaces the old center which was built during the Cold War in the late 1950's. Mark Diedrich is an Emergency Management Specialist. He said the old EOC was no longer large enough nor could it be updated, "It became more and more difficult to bring in new technology to that existing space."

The new 911 dispatching center is still under construction. It will open by the end of the year. Outside, crews were working on a tower installing special equipment for dispatchers who are now working out of Clayton. The old EOC was in Chesterfield. Now the two will only be feet away from each other. Diedrich said, "Every second we save gathering information and dissemination is what most likely is going to save a life."

The Communication Center was built at a cost of $17 million and was constructed to withstand an F-3 tornado.

It is also home to the new emergency radio system which allows fire and police in all metro departments to talk with each other during an emergency. This is the result of 911 when New York Police and fire fighters could not radio each other when terrorists attacked. Diedrich added, "What happened that day was the police department knew the tower was going to come down because they had a helicopter in the air and they could see it start to crumble and radioed policemen to get out of the building the fire department was not on that same system and that's one of the reasons so many firefighters were lost that day than police."

It's all about getting the best and latest information quickly to those who need it to protect and save lives.

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NORTH ST. LOUIS COUNTY CITY CONSIDERS DISSOLVING FIRE DEPARTMENT

June 9, 2014 - KMOV

JENNINGS, MO. - Voters in Jennings will get to decide if the city will dissolve their fire department in August.

Jennings officials said the city can save money if voters approve Proposition R. If voters support the measure, the Riverview Fire Protection District would provide protection for the city. However, property taxes on Jennings residents would rise. For example, the owner of a home valued at $50,000 would pay $20 more per month. A man who owns two homes told News 4 his property taxes would rise by $350.

If voters approve the measure, Riverview would receive a new fire truck. City leaders told News 4 the city would save money, and be protected by a larger fire department. Firefighters told News 4 they strongly support the measure.

Residents will get to vote on Proposition R August 5. Jennings is holding two town hall meetings at Jennings' City Hall Tuesday July 15 at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday July 19 at 10:30 a.m. City hall is located at 2120 Hord Avenue.

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FIRE CAPTAIN FACES TERMINATION HEARING

June 9, 2014 -

CHESTERFIELD - According to Monarch Firefighters, Monarch Fire Captain Chris Gelven will be facing a pre-termination hearing on Thursday, July 10th at 4:00 p.m. There is no word on the cause of the termination threat.

The Monarch Firefighters will be holding a rally in support of Captain Gelven this Thursday, July 10th at 3pm at Monarch FPD Headquarters, 13725 Olive Blvd., prior to the hearing.

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FINANCIAL CONDITION OF MFPD REMAINS STRONG

July 9, 2014 - Call Newspapers

MEHLVILLE - The financial condition of the Mehlville Fire Protection remains strong, with its net position increasing by nearly $1.1 million during fiscal 2013.

The Board of Directors recently voted unanimously to approve the fire district's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, audited by Hochschild, Bloom & Co., for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2013.

Robert Offerman of Hochschild, Bloom & Co. told the board June 25 that the district received an "unqualified opinion" on its 2013 financial statements - the best possible opinion that can be given.

In addition, the fire district earned a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association for its 2012 financial statements.

This is the 15th consecutive year the district has received this recognition. The district also will send its 2013 statements to the association for certificate qualification, according to Chief Financial Officer Brian Bond.

In 2013, the district's total net position - total assets - increased by $1,092,243, to $38,087,310 from $36,995,067 in 2012. That amounts to a 2.95-percent increase, according to the report.

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AFFTON RESIDENTS: RESPONSE BY FIRE DEPARTMENT TO WEEKEND FIRE WAS TOO SLOW

July 8, 2014 - KMOV

AFFTON - Affton residents said the response from firefighters to a garage fire was too slow.

A lit bottle rocket landed in a man's garage in the 4600 block of Siebert Saturday. Firefighters said the blaze destroyed the garage and spread to other homes. Residents said it took 10-15 minutes for firefighters to arrive even though the nearest fire station is 1/4 of a mile down the street.

Affton Fire Protection Chief Jim Fritz said that particular station does not have a full time pumper truck, but only has an ambulance.

Fritz told News 4 the crews arrived within five minutes and that their response time was appropriate. The crews arrived on scene from the department's two other fire stations. Fritz said the fire department meets all necessary guidelines.

Residents said they may start a petition to have a pumper truck at the station in question full time.

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LIGHTNING SPARKS FIRE AT EUREKA HOME

Photo by West County EMS & Fire Protection District

July 8, 2014 - KSDK

EUREKA, MO. - As storms moved across the St. Louis area Monday, lighting sparked a house fire in Eureka.

Scott Barthelmass with the Eureka Fire Department says the fire happened at a home in the 400 block of Eagle Pointe Landing around 8:15 p.m. Neighbors saw flames and called 911.

The home sustained fire, water, and smoke damage. Everybody got out of the home safely.

Firefighters say it was one of several homes struck by lightning in the area.

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FIRE DEPARTMENT K-9 DIES WHILE ON DUTY

July 8, 2014 - Spanish Lake Fire Protection District

ST. LOUIS COUNTY - Spanish Lake Firefighter Patrick Horn has announced the passing of his longtime K-9 partner Hochrein in the following statement:

"It is with deep regret that I inform you that at 22:45 on 7/7/14, while responding to a missing three year old girl in Pittsfield, Ill., my K9 partner Hochrein, has passed away. He has crossed the rainbow bridge doing something he was trained to do and loved doing it. He was a rescue/cadaver dog and offical member of the Spanish Lake Fire District, Missouri Region C Technical Rescue Team Canine Division and St.Louis Metropolitan Heavy Rescue Task Force. Hochrein DSN 5109 is now a "FREE DOG"

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HOMELESS MOTHER SAYS BURNED HOME COULD'VE BEEN SAVED

July 6, 2014 - KSDK

BERKELEY - A Berkeley mother who lost her house Saturday morning in a house fire believes firefighters could have saved her home.

Cynthia Day said firefighters first showed up to her house without water. She said she stood by an emergency responder as she watched flames engulf her home. She lives less than a mile away from a Berkeley fire station on Airport Road. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Day lives near another home that went up in flames. Charles Cross lived in a home with his seven children. He said the cause of the fire was electrical in nature. He did not have renters insurance. He lost everything his family owned in the fire. Cross believes his home could have been saved if the fire station on Airport Road was open that day.

The City of Berkeley says declining revenue and unexpected tornado recovery costs have strained its budget. As a result, over the past eight months the city closed one of its two fire stations to save money. Fire officials said the fire station on Airport Road is presently open.

Berkeley's fire chief says by the time they were called to Cross's house, they wouldn't have been able to save it, even if the nearest fire station was open. No one was injured in either fires.

NewsChannel 5 reached out to the Berkeley Fire Department to see if the fire station on Airport Road was understaffed and if it has affected response times. We were told that we may have to wait until tomorrow for a response.

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SOUTH COUNTY MAN LIGHTS BOTTLE ROCKET, DESTROYS GARAGE

July 5, 2014 - KMOV

AFFTON - The Affton Fire Department responded to calls of a fire Saturday night after a man lit a bottle rocket which destroyed his garage.

The owner of the home in the 4600 block of Siebert Ave. says he was lighting fireworks and decided to light a bottle rocket. After the bottle rocket launched, it landed in his garage which starting a fire.

The four car detached garage had various tools inside including lawnmowers and landscaping equipment. Everything inside the garage was destroyed along with the building.

The fire did not spread to the house and no injuries were reported.

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NIXON SIGNS LAW ALLOWING MISSOURI FIRST-RESPONDERS TO ADMINISTER HEROIN ANTIDOTE

July 3, 2014 - St. Louis Post Dispatch

MISSOURI - Gov. Jay Nixon on Thursday signed a bill allowing first-responders to administer an antidote for heroin overdoses.

Current Missouri law says only paramedics with an order from their medical directors could stock and administer the antidote, known as naloxone or by the trademark name Narcan, in heroin overdose cases.

The law allowing first-responders to administer the antidote takes effect Aug. 28.

When administered in time, a single dose can reverse an overdose of heroin or legally prescribed opioid pain medication and prevent the life-threatening symptoms.

Naloxone can be administered through a syringe, nasal spray or an auto-injector. The law permits first responders to administer the drug by the method for which they have received training. The bill also authorizes any licensed drug distributor or pharmacy in Missouri to sell the drug to qualified first-responder agencies, Nixon's office said.

Nixon signed the bill at a ceremony at High Ridge Fire Department Station No. 3.

The number of heroin overdose deaths in Missouri doubled from 111 in 2008 to 222 in 2011, Nixon's office said, before dropping to 194 in 2012 and to 187 in 2013.

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FREE LUNCH FOR FIREFIGHTERS, POLICE AND EMT'S AT LUMIERE PLACE CASINO & HOTELS

July 3, 2014 - KTVI

ST. LOUIS - There's a very old saying that claims, "There's no such thing as a free lunch." That is unless you're a Police Officer, EMT or Firefighter who races down to St. Louis' Lumiere Place Casino tomorrow to be met with an old fashioned "Thank you."

Shawn Holmes, Sous Chef at Lumiere Place Casino & Hotels joins FOX 2's John Pertzborn to tell us what's cooking for our first responders and when they should arrive!

For additional information visit: Lumiere Place Casino & Hotels, St. Louis

WHO: All St. Louis County and St. Louis City firefighters, police and EMT's on duty, Friday, July 4th.

WHERE: Hotel Lumire atrium (901 North 1st Street, St. Louis, MO 63102)

WHEN: Friday, July 4 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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STATE CONCERNED ABOUT POTENTIAL FOR SURFACE FIRE AT BRIDGETON LANDFILL

July 1, 2014 - St. Louis Public Radio

BRIDGETON - State agency officials are concerned that the underground fire at the Bridgeton Landfill could break through to the surface.

That scenario was raised in a recent memo by landfill fire expert Todd Thalhamer, who has been consulting for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

In his memo to MDNR, Thalhamer said some of the highest underground temperatures so far had been recorded at the landfill in May and early June.

Thalhamer was particularly concerned about measurements at one temperature monitor, where readings above 200 degrees F were recorded just nine feet below the landfill's surface.

That monitor, TMP-13, is located in the narrow neck of the landfill, between the north and south quarries. If you zoom in on the diagram below, it's visible right in the center of the neck. This map is part of the first figure in this infrastructure report.

The monitor TMP-13 is in the middle of a line of gas interceptor wells; the closest one is labeled GIW-9.

Those wells are supposed to keep the underground fire in the south quarry from spreading to the north, in the direction of radioactive waste at the adjacent West Lake Landfill.

Thalhamer said based on the latest temperature readings, "one might conclude the subsurface fire/smoldering event is past the last line of gas interceptor wells." But, he said, he would need to see the next round of carbon monoxide data to know for sure.

In a written statement, Republic Services spokesperson Russ Knocke said "with respect to the notion of daylighting, we do not consider it to be a risk." He said MDNR's consultant Todd Thalhamer was "either misinformed or irresponsibly sensationalizing limited data."

About the temperature monitor that Thalhamer said showed high, near-surface readings? the thing he was most concerned about? Knocke said: "Mr. Thalhamer is aware that TMP-13 is currently inoperable."

The last set of carbon monoxide data for the landfill, issued for May, suggested the underground fire had not moved farther north into the neck. Landfill owner Republic Services is required to test for carbon monoxide in the neck area of the landfill every month, according to the company's latest agreement with Mo. Attorney General Chris Koster. That means June's readings should be available in a couple of weeks.

Charles Nagel, who directs MDNR's Solid Waste Management Program, sent Thalhamer's memo to Republic Services, along with a letter expressing the agency's concerns.

In it, Nagel wrote that the subsurface fire had now spread to encompass "the majority" of the south quarry, and that "the southern portion of the neck" was also experiencing elevated temperatures.

Nagel said that his staff has been working with first responders and staff from the landfill to draft an "Incident Management Plan" for the Bridgeton Landfill, which Nagel said had been finalized as of June 19.

We'll post that final version as soon as we can get it, but in the meantime, here's a draft version from May. It lists the steps that landfill staff will take in the event of a surface fire (see p.8), including calling the Pattonville and Robertson fire departments, and notifying MDNR.

In his letter to Republic Services, Nagel said first responders will be preparing "Incident Action Plans" in preparation for an "Incident Management Strategies Meeting" this month. He said fire district command staff will also visit the landfill to familiarize themselves with the facility.

In addition to developing a plan of action, Nagel said the following steps had been taken to prepare for a potential surface fire:

- Purchase of firefight foam;

- Outfitting of an ATV as an "all-terrain ambulance;"

- Purchase of a "storz connection" to allow the facility's water truck to connect to the fire district's pumpers;

- Development of a web portal to provide Material Safety Data Sheets and updates to the response plan, "such as quarterly maps of landfill infrastructure;"

- Identification of soil stockpiles on the maps (presumably for use in smothering a potential fire); and

- Marking of roadways.

Still, the Missouri Coalition for the Environment's Ed Smith is worried about what could happen if the underground fire breaks through the surface, producing flames and smoke. "Because there's a host of unknown materials in the south quarry," Smith said. "You could have the release of different types of [toxic substances]. This isn't just a typical brush fire you're talking about."

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PEOPLE RESCUED FROM SINKING TOW BOAT IN THE MISSISSIPPI NEAR THE MUSIAL BRIDGE

July 1, 2014 - KTVI

ST. LOUIS - People have been rescued from a sinking tugboat in the Mississippi. The rescue occurred just North of the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge.

The Fire department tweets that they sent a boat to an area near where Angelica street meets the river. The people in the boat were safely transferred from the sinking ship. They are now headed towards dock.

More details will be posted as this story develops.

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REALTOR BURNED DOWN GIRLFRIEND'S HOUSE FOR INSURANCE MONEY: U.S. ATTORNEY

July 1, 2014 - Riverfront Times

ST. LOUIS - A St. Louis real estate developer burned down the home he sold to his girlfriend and their child and laundered the insurance money through his businesses, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Mardell McGee, 45, of St. Louis, was arrested Monday after being indicted on two felony counts of mail fraud, one felony count of arson to further mail fraud and one felony count of money laundering.

In 2010, McGee sold the home he owned at 926 Bayard Avenue, in the Fountain Park neighborhood, for $100,000 to a woman with whom he had a relationship and a child. He'd bought the house just two years earlier for a tenth of the price.

In the early morning hours of February 27, 2012, McGee caused a fire at the house, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. The owner was not at home, but St. Louis Metropolitan Police officers spotted McGee in the area at the time of the fire.

The owner had a homeowner's insurance policy from State Farm that covered the property in case of a fire, and in October 2012, State Farm sent the owner a check for $88,265.

After paying the insurance adjuster, McGee took the check for the remaining $80,265 -- which was made out to his company, Nationwide Lending -- and deposited it into a new account. When State Farm asked for the check back, McGee transferred $55,000 of the funds into two other accounts he controlled.

If convicted, McGee faces some serious jail time. The arson charge carries a ten-year mandatory prison sentence, mail fraud carries a maximum twenty-year sentence and/or fines up to $250,000, and money laundering carries a maximum of ten years in prison and/or $250,000 in fines.

The U.S. Secret Service, St. Louis Metropolitan Police, St. Louis County Police and the Postal Inspection Service investigated this case.

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