ST. LOUIS, MO. - The Annual Guns and Hoses Boxing Showdown took over the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on Wednesday night. The fights between firefighters and police are designed to raise funds for Backstoppers, an organization that provides money for the families of fallen first responders.
The final scores have been tallied -- and the bue team beat the red team 10 to 7.
November 25, 2015 - St, Louis Post Dispatch Special to the Post-Dispatch
CRESTWOOD - Crestwood aldermen on Tuesday night approved a new agreement with firefighters, represented by Local 2655 of the International Association of Firefighters. Within a week, 17 firefighters will vote on it and acceptance is likely, a spokesman said. The department has 21 employees.
The last pact expired in September 2014, and negotiations were delayed for various reasons. The new agreement addresses shift staffing issues and other work rules. The city continues to set firefighters and other employees wages in its budget. All employees got a 5 percent raise for this year.
The board also gave first reading to the budget for next year. It was originally $11.7 million with a $1 million deficit, but small proposed spending reductions were made at a two-hour work session. Under the new pay plan, some experienced employees will get merit raises averaging about 3 percent. The final vote is planned for Dec. 8.
City revenue has been stagnant in recent years, primarily due to the closing of the Crestwood Mall and delays in its proposed redevelopment. Other retail has been reduced as well. A new plan for the mall is in place but details have not been announced and tax incentives have not been approved.
VIDEO: FERGUSON, MO FIRE CHIEF'S INTERVIEW LAST NIGHT DURING THE FIRES
November 25, 2014 - Chicago Fire Wire
FERGUSON - Here is a video of Ferguson, MO Fire Chief addressing the media during the height of the fires last night. Just sheds some light into how many fires there were, and the conditions the Firefighters faced. The video was posted by USA TODAY and description is posted below.
"Firefighters in Ferguson, MO were battling around 25 building fires early Tuesday morning, hours after the announcement that the grand jury would not file charges against Darren Wilson. Firefighters couldn't get to some fires because of gunfire."
POLICE INVESTIGATE WHETHER STABBING CONNECTED TO FATAL FIRE
November 24, 2015 - KTVI BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
BRECKENRIDGE HILLS, MO. - Police are investigating whether a man charged in the attack of a Breckenridge Hills man is also connected to a house fire that killed the victim's brother.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that 53-year-old Brian Westfall was critically injured after being stabbed in his bed early Saturday. The man charged in the incident, Paul Hunott, allegedly returned to the house with blood on his clothes and threatened to kill 51-year-old William Westfall.
Hunott was arrested Saturday and later released.
Firefighters found the Westfalls' house on fire around 3 a.m. Sunday. William Westfall was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Hunott was arrested again Sunday and charged in the attack of Brian Westfall. He hasn't been charged in connection with the fire, but authorities say he's a suspect.
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com
SPACE HEATER BLAMED FOR ST. LOUIS FIRE THAT KILLED 3 CHILDREN
November 22, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Denise Hollinshed
ST. LOUIS, MO. - Three children died Sunday, over the coldest night of the season, in a house fire in the Walnut Park East neighborhood that authorities believe started with a space heater. The dead were two girls, 4 and 6, and a boy, 10 months old, officials said.
Viances Hutcherson Sr., 50, who was the father of the boy and uncle of the girls, was in Barnes-Jewish Hospital with injuries suffered in a rescue attempt, according to his son, Viances Hutcherson Jr., 16.
Capt. Gregg Favre of the St. Louis Fire Department said there were no working smoke detectors in the dwelling, in the 4900 block of Plover Avenue, and that arriving firefighters encountered heavy fire on both levels. A neighbor called in the alarm about 4:16 a.m., and said children were trapped, Favre said.
Firefighters found the 10-month-old still alive, and handed him off to paramedics, Favre said, but did not reach the girls until later. The boy died at a hospital; the girls died at the scene.
Favre said the father was hospitalized in serious condition, with burns and smoke inhalation.
The blaze appeared to have begun with a space heater, he said, noting, "We have no reason to believe that it was anything but an accident."
Viances Hutcherson Jr. said the gas was off and the family was using an electric oven and several space heaters to warm the small, 1 1/2-story house. A cold front had dropped the temperature to 25 degrees overnight, about 10 degrees colder than usual for the date.
The girls had been sleeping on a couch in the first-floor front room and were trapped, the teen said, and the baby was sleeping in a crib in a room on the same level with his parents, who escaped. He said he had been sleeping upstairs in a room with four other brothers and that they got out unhurt by going through a window and sliding off the roof. He said he has another brother who was not at home.
The whole family suffers from asthma, he said, which may have worsened with the effects of heavy smoke through the dwelling. He is a sophomore at Soldan International Studies High School.
The teen said the family had just enjoyed a dinner together at a Chuck E. Cheese's restaurant on Saturday night. He said his father is disabled with a shoulder injury and his mother works temporary jobs.
At some point, he said, he woke up to use the bathroom, saw his cousins asleep on the couch and kissed them each on the cheek. He said he went back to bed and dozed off, but not for long, before he heard screaming and found a house full of dense smoke.
He said his mother, Sarah Williams, and the brothers upstairs with him - Arrak, 14; Marquise, 13; Kneely, 11; and Ameir, 7 - were not hurt. He identified the brother who died as Sevon Hutcherson, and said the cousins who died were Antonasia Odom Williams, 4, and Aniya Calvin, 6.
"My brothers needed me and I did the best I could," he said, with tears in his eyes.
"I made sure they were safe and tried to go back for the rest of them and didn't make it in time."
Aniya Calvin's grandmother, Kamesha Williams, 40, said the house was not insured and the family has no money to cover burials, medical bills, loss of possessions, a new place to live or counseling for the survivors.
"It's such a tragedy," she said. "That was three different families that got destroyed in that house today," she said.
The family has set up an account on the gofundme online site to take donations.
Favre, of the fire department, said he was frustrated to see potentially preventable fire deaths in homes without smoke detectors.
"I've been in my job 15 years and we hit every neighborhood in the city twice a year to give them out," he said. "It kills me inside when I have to watch parents grieving over the loss of their children when we give out smoke detectors for free to city residents."
3 CHILDREN DEAD, 2 ADULTS INJURED DURING HOUSE FIRE IN NORTH ST. LOUIS
November 22, 2015 - KMOV By Timothy Godfrey
ST. LOUIS, MO. - Three children have died in a first alarm fire in north St. Louis.
The fire occurred just after 4:00 a.m. in the 4900 block of Plover Avenue, near Walnut Park in north St. Louis. Firefighters learned their were three children stuck inside the building. After entering the building and searching for the children, firefighters were unable to retrieve the children.
The children who died in the fire were 10 month-old Seven Hutcherson, Aniya Calvin and Anastasia Odom.
Fire officials believe 9-10 people were inside at the time of the fire.
The two adults were also transported to the hospital with serious injuries. The man was injured after entering the building himself to save the children inside. The identities of the two adults are still unknown at this time.
Fire crews believe the fire was caused by space heaters. There were no working fire detectors inside the home.
The window of an overhead garage door at St. Louis Fire Department Engine Company 26
November 20, 2015 - KSDK By Jimmy Bernhard, KSDK
NORTH ST. LOUIS - he window of an overhead garage door at a North St. Louis fire station was struck by a bullet around 6:30 Friday night.
According to Captain Gregg Favre with the St. Louis Fire Department, an "errant round" from a nearby shooting pierced the glass at St. Louis Fire Department Engine Company 26, located in the 4500 block of Margaretta.
No one was hurt and no equipment was damaged. The department doesn't believe the station was specifically targeted.
Captain Favre says this is not the first time the building was struck by gunfire, but says this is "too close for comfort."
COTTLEVILLE FIRE DISTRICT COLLECTING TOYS FOR "TOYS FOR TOTS"
November 18, 2015 - Cottleville Fire Protection District
The Cottleville Fire District is happy to announce that we will be collecting for the, "Toys For Tots" program again this year! Last year's collections made a huge difference in making many children's wishes come true!
Collections dates are from, November 16th-December 10th, M-F 8am-4:30pm. The drop off location is at our Administration building located next to our Fire Station at 1385 Motherhead road, (across from the St. Joseph church).
For after-hours drop offs, toys can be dropped at our front entry vestibule area of the Fire Station #1, located at the same address.. If you have any questions please call: 636-447-6655.
KIRKWOOD FIRE DEPARTMENT IS TEAMING UP WITH MARINES FOR THIS HOLIDAY SEASON
November 13, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch PRESS RELEASE BY mathesmn
KIRKWOOD, MO. - December 11-12, 2015. This holiday season, The Kirkwood Fire Department is teaming up with Toys for Tots for a special opportunity to give back and spread cheer. The Fire Department's ambulance will be stationed on the parking lot of Wal-Mart, located at 1202 S Kirkwood Rd, Kirkwood, and doubling as Santa's sleigh as visitors stuff the empty truck with new, unwrapped, toys. These gifts will be delivered to children throughout the St. Louis area who would not have had a holiday gifts otherwise. Please join us as we help create the magic and joy of the holiday season for children in need.
The event will run from 5:00pm until 9:00pm on December 11th and 10:00am until 3:00pm on December 12th. The goal is to "stuff" the ambulance full of toys for those less fortunate. Marines will be on hand and there will be coloring activities for children. For those unable to make it to the event, the fire department will be collecting toys at its administration building Monday through Friday 8:30a-4:00p. The address for the fire house is 11804 Big Bend Road, Kirkwood, MO 63122.
For further information please contact Matt Mathes at 314-822-5883 or email@example.com
FIRE DISTRICTS IMPLEMENT PROGRAM WITH LIFE-SAVING POTENTIAL
Gillian Satkus and Brad Shelton from the Metro West Fire Protection District display a tote being used in connection with its Special needs Tracking and Awareness Response System.
November 17, 2015 - West Newsmagazine
Seconds often count in emergency medical situations, and two local fire protection districts are implementing a program to make sure time counts in favor of the patient.
The Monarch and Metro West fire protection districts have launched the Special needs Tracking and Awareness Response System (STARS) to help paramedics provide better care to individuals with special needs, from infancy to age 21. Other districts in the area also are considering STARS or are in the process of implementing it.
Every person entered into the program has a form that is kept in ambulances that the districts operate. The document describes the individual's medical history, medications, allergies, baseline vital signs, neurological status and common medical emergencies. Each person also is assigned a number that corresponds with his or her medical information form.
Should a medical emergency arise involving someone registered in the program, the caller gives the 911 dispatcher that number, which is relayed to the responding paramedic team.
Having the patient's medical information in advance can be vital, especially when that person's regular caregiver is not present. Some patients' situations also could serve to identify additional training needs for emergency crews, said Gillian Satkus, a Metro West firefighter/paramedic coordinating that district's STARS program.
Patients most likely to benefit are those with significant developmental delays, seizure disorders, cardiac history, cerebral shunts, tracheostomies and other atypical diseases or syndromes.Metro West is working with Rockwood, Parkway and private schools in the district and through its social media and website to publicize the program's availability.
Satkus said she will make an appointment to visit a person's home to explain how the program works. Interested parents also may visit Metro West's headquarters office at 17065 Manchester Road.
Monarch also invites persons to visit its headquarters at 13725 Olive Blvd. to sign up for the program or contact the district's headquarters at (314) 514-0900 to arrange for a home visit by a paramedic who can help with the registration process.
Program information is included in Monarch's latest newsletter, distributed to residences throughout the district.
Both districts offer the opportunity for any child with special needs, who may have anxiety about an ambulance, to tour the vehicle and see the equipment it carries.
Neither district now has specific data on the number of individuals with special needs that the program ultimately will reach.
"The only thing we know for sure is that there are more (people requiring this service) out there than we now know about," said Brad Shelton, Metro West battalion chief and chief medical officer. "That's another reason why this program is so important."
Metro West serves all or portions of Ballwin, Chesterfield, Clarkson Valley, Ellisville, Wildwood, Winchester and unincorporated St. Louis County. Monarch's service area includes all or portions of Chesterfield, Clarkson Valley, Ballwin, Creve Coeur, Maryland Heights, Wildwood and unincorporated St. Louis County.
ST. LOUIS FIRE CHIEF BACKS IDEA FOR REGIONAL FIRE DISTRICT
November 17, 2015 - KMOX
ST. LOUIS - St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson agrees with a new study and says we would be safer in St. Louis City and County with one regional fire district, instead of 43 separate fire departments.
The study from the group Better Together says one district covering the entire region would improve response time, and would ensure all departments have the same equipment and firefighters have the same training.
Chief Jenkerson agrees with that and thinks one department would save a lot of money.
"The ability to eliminate some of the redundancies in all of the 43 different departments," Jenkerson says. "Just look at health insurance for all of these different departments. If you are able to get one big health insurance plan into the department, you are going to save money there."
And there's another reason it makes sense he says.
"When you talk about a major disaster that's when we probably have a big issue in the region with the (municipalities) and smaller fire districts," Jenkerson says. "Because they don't have the resources to handle a major disaster."
Jenkerson says there are mutual aid agreements between the departments and there's a good relationship now between all districts.
SOME STL COUNTY FIRE DEPTS. FAIL REQUIRED RESPONSE TIME
Photo: UPI/Bill Greenblatt
November 16, 2015 - KMOX
ST. LOUIS COUNTY - When you call 911, a fire truck should be at your door in 4 minutes or less, according to standards by the National Fire Protection Association.
But that's not the case for almost a quarter of St. Louis County, and even larger sections rely on mutual aid from their neighbors to put the flames out.
A new study released Monday at 7 a.m. tells us while the city has fire response time covered, only 70 percent of the county does.
The group Better Together says the patchwork of 43 different fire departments poses a "significant risk to the region."
Better Together suggests to get blanket protection in the county it would take: 24 new firehouses, 24 new fire engines, two more ladder trucks, 32 new ambulances, more than 1,000 new firefighters, the same equipment at every fire department, and all firefighters to partake in the same training.
Right now, the city has the only full-time hazmat and technical rescue unit in the region.
The study says one district would also save a lot of money.
FIRE DISTRICT HONORED BY THE FIRE DEPARTMENT SAFETY OFFICERS ASSOCIATION
From left: Board Member Matt Becker, Fire Chief Scott Seppelt, Lead Instructor for the Incident Safety Officer Course Brian Gettemeier (Cottleville Fire), Immediate Past Chairman for the Fire Department Safety Officer's Association Mike Petroff, Board Member Dan Luiewski, & Board Member Bob Carmack
November 5, 2015
FLORISSANT, MO. - The Florissant Valley Fire Protection District was honored by the Fire Department Safety Officers Association for their continuing efforts in bringing the Incident Safety Officer Certification program to firefighters throughout the St. Louis Metro Area.
Michael Petroff the Immediate Past Chair of the Fire Department Safety Officer Association was there to present the award to the Fire District Board of Directors and Fire Chief Scott Seppelt. Fire Marshal Stephen Gettemeier of the Florissant Valley Fire Protection District, as well as, Firefighter Brian Gettemeier of Cottleville Fire Prot. Dist, in St. Charles County, served as Lead Instructors for the courses.
TWO-ALARM FIRE REPORTED COMMERCIAL BAKERY ON PERSHALL ROAD
November 12, 2015 - KTVI BY DANIELLE SCRUGGS
HAZELWOOD, MO. - A Two alarm fire breaks out at a commercial bakery in north St. Louis county this morning. The building was burning at around 8am Nature's Bakery on Pershall road in Hazelwood. Dark smoke billowed from the building.
Bakery employees were sent home for the day. Investigators are looking into the source of the fire.
FIREFIGHTERS PARTICIPATE IN HEAVY EXTRICATION CLASS
MFPD firefighters teach advanced techniques to neighboring districts Photo by Call News
November 11, 2015 - Call News
MEHLVILLE, MO. - Members of the Mehlville Fire Protection District conducted a Heavy Extrication Class last week and taught advanced heavy extrication techniques to their neighboring fire protection districts of Affton, Lemay and Fenton.
MFPD Capt. Dave Waser was the lead instructor and demonstrated how the crew of Mehlville's heavy rescue squad is able to lift and move heavy equipment off other vehicles to allow the rescue of trapped individuals.
Mehlville firefighters moved a tractor-trailer, a dump truck and a school bus off other vehicles during the training, which took place in the parking lot of the Mehlville School District's South County Opportunity for the Purpose of Education/South St. Louis County Management School building on Will Avenue.
The Mehlville Fire Protection District has the only full-time Rescue Squad with a dedicated rescue team in St. Louis County.
Photo by Florissant Valley Fire Protection District
November 10, 2015 - Florissant Valley Fire Protection District
FLORISSANT, MO. - This morning, the Florissant Valley Fire Protection District placed three new ambulances in service to the residents of the fire district. The ambulances were built by Demers Ambulances on Ford F450 chassis and feature a state of the art electrical system. In addition, the ambulances were designed with an emphasis on safety for both the patient and the provider in the patient compartment.
It is because of the taxpayers' generosity in passing a bond issue in 2014 that we were able to purchase these ambulances. Thank You!
ST. LOUIS, MO. - Fires are burning faster and hotter than ever, which puts the public in even more danger and makes firefighters' jobs tougher and more dangerous.
"It has to be more coordinated. It has to be a very fast attack," says St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson.
But soon, his firefighters could have a tactical advantage they have never had before with help coming from the air by way of drones - small unmanned quadcopters capable of providing real-time images to commanders on the ground.
"It's giving us another level of information," says Deputy Chief Les Crews with the Monarch Fire Protection District.
His department and the St. Louis County Special Operations are at the forefront of drone technology in the St. Louis region. Monarch is flying one drone and the Pattonville Fire Protection District houses two drones for Special Operations at a cost of around $10,000 each.
"It's providing situational awareness we haven't had," says Crews.
In five other states, fire fighters are flying drones. But in St. Louis City it is a different story.
Captain Gregg Favre is heading up still budding drone program for the St. Louis Fire Department. He says when it comes to drones the city is in a bit of a holding pattern."This is unprecedented technology we just need to find the right way to harness it for everybody's benefit," says Favre. Because, he says drones need public support before they can fly.
"We also have some very serious policy concerns around individual privacy, around individual freedoms that we want to be great partners with the community ... we don't want rush to get these things in the air and flying at the cost of some of these individual freedoms," says Favre.
The St. Louis County departments are confident their policies can protect privacy while their drones help protect the public. Only chief officers can authorize their use, and all flights are tracked by GPS. They have also consulted with the Federal Aviation Administration.
"We're not using this as a tool to invade someone's privacy. Obviously we've got this for life saving purposes," says Crews.
In the meantime, Favre hopes to have two customized drones in the air in the next six months.
Both the city and the county departments could be setting drone standards for the rest of the country. Captain Favre is working with the Naval Academy's graduate school to write public policies for drones. And the county is part of a three-year, drone case study by the National Fire Protection Association.
DEPUTY CHIEF DISPUTES CLAIM OF PROLONGED RESPONSE TIME IN ONE NORTH COUNTY CITY
Photo by KMOV
November 6, 2015 - KMOV By Lauren Pozen, Reporter
Questions tonight over emergency response time in a north Saint Louis county community after a child is recovering after getting hit by a car in Normandy.
A witness to this accident contacted News 4 with concerns about how long it took first responders to get there.
"I saw a kid dart out of traffic coming both ways and the lady in front of me stopped in decent enough time not to injure the kid too badly, but she did hit him," says James Stitt.
Stitt called 911 and spoke with dispatch. He says it took 25 minutes for the first fire truck to get on scene.
We asked Northeast Fire and Rescue why it took that long.
"It was already had the tones going off in the engine house. By 15:42 the ambulance is out the door. Bermuda isn't 20 minutes away. It's just not. they arrived on the scene at 15:47 and 18 that is less than 5 minutes," says Daniel Newberry, interim deputy chief.
So why did Stitt think otherwise?
"Time compression. The person felt like it was taking a long time," says Newberry.
There are 20 911 call centers in the Saint Louis area. Crews get called out depending on the emergency and where that crew is.
So in the case where the little boy was hit by a car, Northeast fire got called out.
"We are the guys that go into the places that everybody else is leaving. We are are not going to try and get out of going to that call. We want to get out there as quickly as we can," says Newberry.
There are cases when response time isn't so great, like if its a high call volume night. Many agencies have mutual aid agreements, so if that's the case, help will still get to you.
NEW EXECUTIVE NAMED TO LEAD CENTRAL COUNTY EMERGENCY 911
November 6, 2015 - West Newsmagazine By: Jim Erickson
Tim Conroy will begin his duties as executive director of the Central County Emergency 911 dispatch center on Nov. 16.
Conroy's hiring and the terms of his employment were set after a recent meeting of the CCE Board of Directors. He succeeds Mike Turner, who is ending a 38-year career with the Ellisville-based operation.
CCE handles 911 calls for fire and emergency medical services and dispatches first responders from the 34 agencies that either own the center or use its services. Those fire and EMS districts and departments cover most of St. Louis County as well as portions of adjoining counties.
Conroy is a former CCE employee who last year had joined St. Louis County as its fire dispatch deputy director. In his new position, Conroy will receive an annual salary of $97,500, three weeks' vacation and a CCE-owned vehicle for his use. He also will receive pension benefit credits for his earlier service at CCE.
Turner announced plans earlier this year to retire Oct. 1 but agreed to stay on during the hiring process and his successor's transition. Tim Flora, CCE board chairman, said Turner will remain on the job at CCE until Dec. 31. Should Turner's services be needed after that, it will be on a contract basis, Flora noted.
"With (Turner's) pending retirement, the board of directors is glad the selection process for a new executive director is complete. The board is looking forward to working with Tim Conroy and continuing to provide the same outstanding service to the citizens and fire/EMS agencies we serve," Flora said.
He added that Turner's "leadership and experience will be greatly missed."
The CCE board is composed of one representative from each of the five fire and EMS districts that own the dispatch center. Those are Monarch, Metro West, Maryland Heights, Creve Coeur and West County fire protection districts. Other agencies use the center's service under contract.
MAN SENTENCED TO FIVE YEARS AFTER ADMITTING TO LIGHTING GROCERY STORE ON FIRE
November 4, 2015 - KMOV
ST. LOUIS, MO. - A St. Louis man has been sentenced to five years imprisonment after admitting to lighting a fire inside the Ferguson Supermarket, Inc. last year after the night the grand jury announcement was made by Robert McCulloch.
Antonio Whiteside, 26, pled guilty to one count of attempted arson in April.
In surveillance video from inside the store, Whiteside is seen spraying several boxes with lighter fluid and starting a fire, according to police. After the fire begins, an unknown man uses milk to put the flames out. Whiteside's lawyer said his client got scared and told someone to put the fire out.
"He is a decent kid that got caught up in the emotion and mob-type action, which we know about in this country what happens with mob activity and he got caught up with that, that's pretty much it," Rodney Holmes, Whiteside's attorney, said.
Whiteside had faced a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and fines up to $250,000.
U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and St. Louis County police had been working together since the rioting on Nov. 24, 2014.
Source: ST. LOUIS COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTION COMMISSION
BERKELEY - PROPOSITION I
**TAX LEVY - POLICE & FIRE PENSION**
(Vote for ) 1
(WITH 4 OF 4 COUNTED)
YES . . . . . . . . . . . . 205 48.69
NO. . . . . . . . . . . . . 216 51.31
FERGUSON PROTESTER PLEADS GUILTY TO SETTING FIRE AT BERKELEY QUIKTRIP
November 3, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Joel Currier
ST. LOUIS COUNTY - One of the more visible protesters during the Ferguson unrest last year has pleaded guilty to starting a fire at a QuikTrip in Berkeley in December.
Joshua Williams, 19, of north St. Louis County, pleaded guilty to arson, burglary and stealing Monday in St. Louis County Circuit Court.
Police say Williams started a fire at a QuikTrip in Berkeley during protests after the death of Antonio Martin, 18, who was fatally shot Dec. 23 by a Berkeley police officer at a Mobil gas station across the street from the QuikTrip in the 6800 North Hanley Road.
Police said Williams entered the QuikTrip shortly after looters shattered its glass doors early on Dec. 24. Police say he took items from the store and used lighter fluid to set a fire outside the convenience store. Store surveillance and several media outlets captured video of Williams, police said. He was charged Dec. 27.
The Post-Dispatch, Bloomberg, USA Today and the Associated Press quoted and photographed Williams during Ferguson protests last year. In October, he was photographed walking arm in arm with author and activist Cornel West toward the St. Louis University campus, where protesters staged a sit-in.
Williams also confronted St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson during a Ferguson Commission meeting last year, shouting at Dotson as the police chief tried to answer questions. He was also arrested at least twice during Ferguson-related protests for unlawful assembly and refusal to disperse.
Sentencing for Williams is set for Dec. 10 in St. Louis County Circuit Judge John D. Warner Jr.'s courtroom.
SUSPECT UNDER ARREST FOR NORTH ST. LOUIS CHURCH FIRES
October 30, 2015 - KTVI BY JOE MILLITZER AND KEVIN S. HELD
ST. LOUIS, MO. - The St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office charged a 35-year-old local man in connection with two of seven church arsons in the St. Louis area.
David Lopez Jackson was charged with two counts of second-degree arson. Jackson is accused of setting fires at New Life Missionary Baptist Church and Ebenezer Lutheran Church. Both places of worship are in St. Louis City.
According to prosecutors, evidence at both scenes links Jackson to the fires. Surveillance video allegedly shows Jackson's car at the scene of the New Life Missionary fire as well. When questioned by police, Jackson confirmed the car belonged to him and that he was the only one using it. Police also found a gas canister and thermos in the vehicle. The canister had a small amount of gasoline still inside and the thermos smelled of gasoline.
The first fire was set on October 8, 2015 at Bethel Non-Denominational Church in Jennings, with six additional fires in the days following. All of the fires originated at the exterior door of each church and were set at a time when the church was empty.
The St. Louis Fire Department believes that the fire activity was meant to send a message.
PATTONVILLE FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT USING DRONES TO HELP FIGHT FIRES
October 30, 2015 - KTVI BY PATRICK CLARK,
BRIDGETON, MO. - For first responders, the best tool in their belt to help fight fires might be up in the air.
"In this particular case, we have an issue with fire in an attic area of what looks like a garage or front living room," says Matt Lavanchy, Assistant Chief Pattonville Fire District. "We have a fire issue with the side of this house, side B."
On Friday morning, firefighters from the Pattonville Fire Protection District were called to this Bridgeton blaze off Avery around 2:30 a.m.
It marked the first time they were able to use their new unmanned aerial vehicle to give them a bird's eye view and reduce the risk of an educated guess.
"With this technology, we're not guessing anymore," says Lavanchy. "We know where the seed of the fire is, we know where the fire is progressing too, and we know where the fire is going to go. We see in these videos and these pictures where it's safe to put a firefighter.'
Pattonville bought two UAVs earlier this year and have three people trained to use them. At the scene of this Bridgeton fire, all anyone could see from the ground was a big, black cloud of smoke billowing hundreds of feet into the air.
"But with this technology we're able to see through the obstruction and see what the true issue and what the true point is where we need to make our attack," says Lavanchy.
The new gear is already being called a game changer.
"Something can look perfectly normal to the human eye, but with thermal imaging it can show you that there's a monster behind the room or a wall or anywhere else," says Lavanchy.
While the debate on drones continues, firefighters already implementing unmanned aerial vehicles will tell you, they're here to stay and help.
"We use it for life safety," says Lavanchy. "Whether it's a firefighter or a civilian, that's what the use is for."
TWO UNIVERSITY CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS CONTINUE OPPOSITION TO CITY'S NEW GATEWAY AMBULANCE SERVICE
Agreement with firefighters, quality of Gateway Ambulance called into question
October 21, 2015 - West End Word by Dennis Hannon
UNIVERSITY CITY, MO. - The rolling brawl over University City's outsourced ambulance service - already an issue on the city council and in the St. Louis County Circuit Court - flared up again at the council's Oct. 12 meeting.
Two council members called into question the integrity of both the ambulance company the city hired, and that of the city government itself.
The trouble started Aug. 5, when the council voted 5-2 to hire Gateway Ambulance Service, the St. Louis subsidiary of a Louisville transport company. The council members who cast the opposing votes - Terry Crow and Paulette Carr - since have conducted a rear-guard action against the agreement.
At the council meeting, Crow raised questions about the city's compliance with the staffing requirements stated in its collective bargaining agreement with its firefighters; Carr contested Gateway's claims regarding ambulance response times.
Crow sought answers to questions raised by skeptics of the city's outsourcing move who suspect the city has been scrambling to make its short roster of firefighters (numbering about 38) meet the minimum staffing requirement (11 per shift) set down in the collective bargaining agreement. The implication, say the critics, is that the city had intended to use Gateway to meet the shortfall.
"Do we have 11 University City firefighter personnel on the (job) every day?" Crow asked of City Manager Lehman Walker. "If not, how many days since we've had Gateway have we not had full staffing? How many hours of overtime has the city approved?"
Walker responded that a council meeting "is not the appropriate forum to discuss labor relations. I have no intention of discussing labor relations."
If the city did have intentions of using outsourced personnel to plum-up its headcount in the fire department, the firefighters union might have stymied them.
On Oct. 5, Circuit Judge Tom DePriest, answering a petition from the Eastern Missouri Chapter of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), Local 2665, ordered the city to comply with the language of the collective bargaining agreement, specifically Section 2.03, which states that "the city will maintain a staffing of at least 11 personnel per crew on duty each day."
Jen Stuhlman, shop steward for University City's firefighters, told the council that the city seldom had been in compliance with the collective bargaining agreement staffing requirement prior to DePriest's order. Fewer than 11 firefighters were on duty on 32 of the 37 days between Gateway's August start date and DePriest's order, she said.
"To claim that this was accidental, unavoidable or anything but deliberate would be a travesty," she told the council.
Crow further questioned the timing between the city signing a collective bargaining agreement with its firefighters in April and contracting to outsource ambulance service in August.
"Where was the logic in signing a CBA when there clearly was a conversation already going on about Gateway?" he said. "At some point in time the integrity of the information we (members of the council) receive must be called into question."
Carr concentrated on what she alleged was deficient quality - and deceitful representation - in Gateway's ambulance service. She recited lengthy call logs from the city's 911 service in an attempt to prove Gateway had misrepresented its response times at least by a factor of two, and in one case much more.
City officials, including Mayor Shelley Welch, have stated the city stood to save $500,000 - half its $1.1 million annual budget for emergency medical services - by hiring Gateway. The company will not be paid a direct fee, but instead will collect an estimated $700,000 in insurance reimbursements from patients who are transported in its ambulances.
The task of hiring a new executive director for Central County Emergency 911 is taking longer than anticipated, so the organization's board has asked the retiring head of the operation to remain on the job until Dec. 31.
The CCE Board of Directors continued its applicant evaluation and interview process during an executive session at its Sept. 30 meeting. Tim Flora, board chairman, said the board so far has interviewed four candidates to replace Mike Turner, who earlier this year announced plans to retire Oct. 1.
Three of the four candidates have been scheduled for second interviews and the board plans to meet with other applicants as well, Flora said.
In his retirement announcement, Turner said he would remain on the job if needed to assist in the hiring and transition process, and the board decided to take him up on the offer.
FLORISSANT VALLEY FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT ORDERS 3 AMBULANCES
October 27, 2015 - PRNewswire Press Release
BELOEIL, QC - Demers Ambulances announced that Florissant Valley Fire Protection District, Missouri, has ordered three Demers Type I MXP170 ambulances on Ford F450 chassis as part of an emergency vehicle fleet upgrade program. This order is scheduled for delivery in late October 2015 and is the latest in Demers' ongoing expansion of sales.
"Our committee reached out to Demers early in the purchasing process," said Mark Flauter, Chief Medical Officer for Florissant Valley FPD. "Demers produces a fantastic product based on our experience and research. In addition, we share their philosophy on safety and ergonomics. Everyone at Florissant Valley FPD is excited to see the finished product in October. We believe in what we're doing with Demers and encourage other Fire-EMS services to consider them, too. "
"We're very pleased and honored to have been selected to supply ambulances for one of the busiest fire protection districts in the St. Louis area. The purchasing committee at Florissant Valley FPD has a very progressive mindset in terms of operation management and employee safety. We believe they are one of the trendsetters in terms of optimizing Fire-EMS response," said Benoit Lafortune, executive vice president of Demers.
MXP170 Ambulances Designed for Florissant FPD
"This ambulance design was specifically configured to meet the need of the Florissant Valley FPD Department based on collaborative discussions with their EMS purchasing committee members and our sales and engineering team. Together, we developed a customized solution that optimizes their ability to respond and care for patients," said Lafortune.
The new Demers Type 1 MXP 170 ambulances will ride on Ford F450 4x4 diesel chassis and feature a 170-inch patient module to maximize interior working space and equipment storage. The interior cabinetry is constructed of aluminum. The design features a second work station on the curbside and a cabinetry configuration that maximizes storage.
PARAMEDICS COME TO MAN'S AID NOT ONCE, BUT TWICE IN A DAY
October 26, 2015 - KTVI By Dan Greenwald, Online News Producer
MEHLVILLE, MO. - Two Mehlville paramedics went way beyond the call of duty, Monday. They rushed man to a hospital then went back to his home. The man's neighbors and his family were amazed by what happened next.
The man had been on a ladder, cleaning the leaves from his roof and gutter. He broke his leg badly when he fell from the ladder.
For paramedics John Grass and Matt Runge, the job didn't end at the ER.
"Pretty much right after the call, we just decided since he was going to be out of commission for a while we'd go back grab our blower and a couple of rakes and just kind of help him out," Grass said.
"He had a pretty bad injury. We thought 'hey, let's go back there, finish the job, finish doing his leaves for him' and give him a little surprise when he came home," said Runge.
So, the same two guys who'd just helped the man and his wife through their frightening emergency, came back clean up his leaves. Another off-duty firefighter happened to drive by: he pitched in, too.
"We ran out of bags. One of the off duty guys saw us working and brought over a tarp and trailer and made it easier; raked them up onto the tarp and made it a lot easier; just in time too, because we caught another call right when we were finishing up," Grass said.
"We like to think we can build a fireman but we can't build that character that people just inherently have. These two gentlemen, they have that character," said Mehlville Fire Protection District Chief, Brian Hendricks.
Grass and Runge were of the same mold of everyone else in the close to 130 member department, he said.
They were known for more than saving lives.
Along with raking residents' leaves, the staff has changed tires, shoveled snow, even visited an elderly woman simply because she was lonely.
"She lost her husband. She didn't have any family. She was sad. Off-duty they go up and they have lunch with her. It's just a testament to the caliber of people we have," Hendricks said. "They don't do it for this sort of recognition."
"It just seemed like the right thing to do," Grass said.
A relative of the fall victim told FOX 2 the man and his wife wanted to maintain their privacy but also wanted to make sure the paramedics got some sort of recognition for going "above and beyond".
FIREFIGHTERS DOUSE BLAZE IN CREVE COEUR APARTMENT BUILDING
Firefighters finish with an apartment fire that went to two alarms in Creve Coeur on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015. The fire in the Oak Forest Apartments started on a stove, according to resident Brandon McElroy, 28. He said that he had just finished feeding his three-month-old son, Eathan, and had turned on the stove to feed himself when the stove caught fire. "It became so violent, so quickly, and was spreading very fast," said McElroy. He grabbed his son, left the apartment and started banging on neighbors' doors to warn them. McElroy said he had just moved into the apartment. Photo by J.B. Forbes, firstname.lastname@example.org
FIREFIGHTERS EXTINGUISH SMALL BRUSH FIRE AT WEST LAKE LANDFILL
Photo by Pattonville Fire Protection District
October 25, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Denise Hollinshed
Pattonville firefighters extinguished a small fire caused by a faulty switch on an electric pole on the site of the West Lake Landfill at St. Charles Rock Road at Taussig Road Saturday afternoon.
Pattonville Fire Protection District's Battalion Chief Ken Aydelott said a passerbyers noticed a small brush fire at St. Charles Rock Road and Taussig Road about 2:13 p.m. The fire department responded and quickly extinguished the brush fire from the roadway.
"The fire was knocked out quickly," Aydelott said.
Aydelott said the fire was the result of a faulty switch on an Ameren utility pole, located inside the landfill's perimeter fence, that dropped hot ambers from the faulty switch. The switch had overheated, causing hot metal to drop below and igniting the fire. He said the fire was unrelated to anything in the landfill.
The last small fire at the landfill was February 2014.
EMERGENCY PLANS FOR WEST LAKE LANDFILL STOKE FEARS
Karen Meadows carries her sons Dresden Meadows, 3, and Corwin Meadows, 13 months, to the family van during a surprise evacuation drill she ran with her children from their home in St. Charles County on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015. Meadows blew an airhorn in the kitchen at the house at 9 a.m. to start the drill and then she and her seven children scrambled out the door like they would in the event they need to evacuate their home if a radioactive plume of smoke is released from the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton. Photo By David Carson, email@example.com
October 26, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Blythe Bernhard, Jacob Barker
BRIDGETON - 'FEAR THE UNKNOWN' The fire in Bridgeton and the contamination at West Lake are nothing new. The Bridgeton Landfill has smoldered for almost five years, which put new attention on West Lake Landfill, contaminated in the 1970s after a contractor illegally dumped uranium processing waste there.
In 2013, the situation at the Bridgeton Landfill was arguably worse. There wasn't a cap and Republic Services didn't have a way to treat contaminated liquid leaching from the landfill. Some residents say the smell is better but still far from fixed.
Even Republic Services has said that in 2013, the fire was moving toward West Lake and expanding. It contends that is no longer the case.
Koster's office, in an emailed response to questions, said its lawsuit had already resulted in a cap over the Bridgeton Landfill to control odors and other fixes to manage the smoldering landfill.
"While the litigation continues, at least three facts are clear: One, the Bridgeton landfill still is burning," Koster spokeswoman Nanci Gonder wrote. "Two, the burning landfill has contaminated natural resources of our state. And three, the landfill contains an unknown amount of radioactive waste left over from the construction of the atomic bomb, and no one is certain what will happen if radioactive material begins to burn."
Gonder wrote that the reports were compiled as part of the lawsuit and that "we had a choice to either share those reports with the public or to keep them secret. We chose transparency."
Pattonville Fire Protection District Assistant Fire Chief Matt LaVanchy, who has been a key player in the development of emergency plans, said he did not think anything had gotten worse in recent months. But it's also not getting better.
"I don't think things have changed at the landfill, at least in terms of the spread of the fire," he said. "The caveat to that statement is it's also not showing any signs of decreasing in intensity."
What has changed is the awareness of the situation, he said, primarily because of the emergency plans and Koster's reports.
"It's human nature to fear the unknown," LaVanchy said. "Unfortunately, this is one of those things where there's not a lot of information because there's not a lot of radioactive dumps with a fire next to it."
Some people have cited nuclear disasters such as Fukushima and Chernobyl on social media, but Ed Smith, who monitors the landfills for the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, said there was no nuclear reactor at West Lake.
The concern, he said, is what would happen to the radioactive material should the fire reach West Lake. If the smoldering material turns into a traditional, flaming fire, it could move the waste beyond the landfill fence, Smith said.
The EPA acknowledges some uncertainty over what would happen if the radiological waste came into contact with a fire. It plans to study the scenario, even though it doesn't see it as imminent.
"We want something more definitive than a maybe, which is why we're spending a lot of time trying to flesh this out with a lot of radiological experts," said Brad Vann, EPA's remedial project manager for West Lake.
The agency has become more vocal as concern has grown, trying to reassure residents that the fire is not moving toward West Lake.
Even if the fire reached radioactive material, "we don't expect that to be something that would spew out like a volcano," Vann said last week.
The radioactive elements of uranium and thorium thought to make up much of the processing waste are heavy enough that EPA suspects they won't be easily mobilized. It's their decay products - radon and radium - that could pose a risk. But the threat would mainly be for onsite workers who might inhale radon gas before it dissipates.
That being said, the EPA plans to monitor groundwater, where levels of radium above EPA standards have been detected.
ST. LOUIS, MO. - Arsonists targeted another church overnight in north St. Louis.
Around 1:45a.m., someone set fire to the entrance of the Shrine of St. Joseph Catholic Church on north 11th Street at Biddle.
The fire burned the front doorway of the rectory at the historic church that was built by the Jesuits in 1843. This is the seventh arson attack at churches in north St. Louis City and County in the past two weeks.
Chief Dennis Jenkerson says the damage is very similar. He calls it "very, very disturbing."
According to Chief Sam Dotson, whoever is responsible for this fire did some research. He believes they scouted the area and knew they could get in and out without possibly being seen. He says the rectory is a secluded area that doesn't have video cameras.
The reward had grown for information leading to an arrest in the string of arson cases. It's now at $9,000 thanks to an additional $5,000 from the Missouri Fire Marshal's office.
Firefighters hit the streets Wednesday, handing out flyers in hopes of generating tips. Police have also stepped up patrols.
If you have any information in this case please call CrimeStoppers at 1-866-371-TIPS (8477) or visit stlrcs.org.
CRESTWOOD, FIREFIGHTERS' UNION AT IMPASSE, BOARD TOLD
City at increased risk of litigation, union VP warns
October 21, 2015 - Call News By Mike Anthony Executive Editor
CRESTWOOD, MO. - Crestwood officials and members of the city's firefighters' union have reached an impasse on staffing levels and salaries, a representative of Local 2665 of the International Association of Fire Fighters told the Board of Aldermen last week.
Local 2665 represents the city's firefighters, and 4th District Vice President Kurt Becker said compliance with national staffing standards and salary competitiveness in the local marketplace are at the heart of the impasse.
In September 2014, Becker told aldermen that union representatives had attempted to schedule contract negotiations with city officials since June 1, 2014, to no avail, and that city staff was "nonexistent to negligent in its response" to the union's request to meet.
A three-year memorandum of understanding, or MOU, between the city and firefighters expired Sept. 30, 2014. In October 2014, aldermen approved a six-month bridge agreement with the union. Under the pact, all terms of the previous MOU remained in effect.
The bridge agreement also stated that if a new MOU was not reached before March 31, firefighters would be offered "any economic enhancements" extended to other city employees.
Negotiations had gone very well and had wound down by March, Becker noted.
"There was one item left and we anticipated that it was going to be a relatively small item. It was about the implementation of the pay plan, and we had anticipated that we'd work through those details through the month of April and we expected that sometime in the month of May of 2015 that the Board of Aldermen would receive the final version of the collective bargaining agreement ...," he said. "As time went on, things became more and more unclear, and ultimately we wound up sitting down with a mediator, trying to sort out the two items that were impasse items. That mediation took place on July 15, and we really haven't reached an agreement beyond that and that's why we're here tonight ..."
The city and the firefighters' union should not be at an impasse, Becker said, proposing that discussions be referred back to the mediator and that Mayor Gregg Roby participate in that process.
Regarding staffing, Becker said that National Fire Protection Association, or NFPA, 1710 standards stipulate "a minimum of four personnel on an engine company like the fire truck that runs out of the Crestwood Fire Department at all times."
"... What we agreed to back in February of 2015 was that the Crestwood Fire Department would be staffed with no fewer than six personnel," he said. "That section of the contract was checked off. We put it aside and we worked on other items because we had reached on agreement on that."
But on July 15, city officials notified the union they intended to revisit the issue of staffing levels, "and proposed that instead of six, we have five, which would leave three people on the fire truck," Becker said. "And we felt very strongly that that was a significant safety issue ..."
The union official also raised the issue of the city's Insurance Services Organization, or ISO, rating, which is a 4. ISO rates communities based on how well they score on the organization's Fire Suppression Rating Schedule, with a 1 being the best and 10 the worst. Becker noted that when Crestwood received its current ISO rating of 4, it operated two engine companies. The city now operates one engine company and one rescue squad.
"... The next ISO rating process will probably take an unfavorable view of that loss of that piece of equipment," he said. "And that could very easily lead to an increase in the ISO rating for the city of Crestwood, and consequently an increase in the property insurance rate that your citizens and your businesses pay ..."
In early March, City Administrator Mark Sime proposed a pay scale, and while less than union officials desired, they believed it reasonable and tenure based and accepted it, Becker said. In May, firefighters unanimously approved an MOU that included the pay plan, believing it would be tenure based, Becker said. City officials later revealed that the pay plan would not be tenure based and "backed away" from the previously agreed-upon staffing levels, he added.
Besides the pay plan, Becker also cited a disparity in Crestwood firefighters' pay compared to cities the union considers comparable, saying, "... Our goal was to try and get the city of Crestwood to have a Fire Department that complied with national standards and that provided its employees with market-average compensation. That doesn't sound very ambitious. It doesn't sound very sexy, honestly ..."
To help Crestwood fund the costs of meeting national standards and making firefighter pay competitive, Local 2665 made several proposals, including:
- Consider outsourcing Fire Department management services.
- Consider "insourcing" EMS transport services to capture billable revenue from the roughly 1,000 EMS calls that Crestwood generates each year.
Becker also warned city officials about their increased exposure to litigation.
"... I feel very strongly that both with ISO and with NFPA, particularly 1710, we're going to see trial attorneys recognizing the opportunity for business, moving forward ...," he said. "If the authority having jurisdiction doesn't comply with those standards and the insurance company that's underwriting that property realizes a $5 million, a $10 million loss in that property, they're going to start looking for ways to offset those losses that that insurance company is going to have to pay.
"And where that's going to land is right back here on your laps as the men and women of the Board of Aldermen of the city of Crestwood ... You guys are the folks making the decisions about how many firefighters are on your fire trucks, and ultimately if there aren't the right number of firefighters on your fire trucks, if your firefighters aren't trained properly, if all of those things are happening and you start seeing these property losses, it's going to be you guys that these insurance companies and these trial lawyers are coming after to offset some of those losses ..."
Ward 1 Alderman Darryl Wallach asked Becker how many cities or fire districts meet the NFPA 1710 staffing requirement.
"... There are few that have fully adopted it," Becker acknowledged, adding, "Under the current MOU, we have a minimum staffing of six. That's all we're asking the city to do is move that same minimum staffing standard that we had under the previous MOU forward to this new one ..."
Roby said, "... I think every one of these firefighters over here know that if I had the opportunity to do so, you'd be paid a lot more than what you're getting right now. But the bottom line is it boils down to finances. If we had the money, we wouldn't be sitting here talking about this.
"We'd be the standard that other fire departments would be attempting to achieve ... It's a matter of finances. It's not something that we as a board here at this particular moment can control. We don't have the additional dollars, and I'm just being very candid and honest with you when I say that ..."
WEST COUNTY EMS/FPD HOSTS EMERGENCY TRAINING FOR FIREFIGHTERS FROM ACROSS STATE
Firefighter-paramedics remove the top of a vehicle during an accident simulation in which a car has been pinned under tractor trailer. (West Newsmagazine/Jim Erickson photo)
October 20, 2015 - West Newsmagazine
Firefighter-paramedics from throughout Eastern Missouri and as far away as Kansas City came to the West County EMS and Fire Protection District training center on Manchester Road for a program designed to sharpen their knowledge and skills in emergency extrication techniques.
Nearly 100 first responders from 27 fire protection districts and departments participated in the program, which included a half-day of classroom instruction and a half-day of demonstrations and hands-on practice in how to reach and extricate victims trapped beneath heavy objects and in various types of vehicle accidents. A similar agenda applied to a separate attendee group on the following day.
A safety team from Holmatro, a Netherlands-based company with manufacturing facilities in Glen Burnie, Maryland, conducted the program. The firm makes hydraulic equipment and systems used for rescue, industrial and special tactics operations around the world.
Using actual vehicles, the extrication scenarios included cars in a variety of situations such as having one on its side in a location where access was difficult, another upside down with the roof caved in, one having other crush damage, and one run underneath the trailer of a semi. A mannequin also was partially pinned under a more than two-ton concrete slab for demonstrating how to use power tools to free victims trapped under heavy objects.
While West County EMS/FPD did not receive any of the $99 per participant registration fee, Chief Ernie Rhodes said the district was "money ahead" in serving as host of the training rather than paying travel expenses and fees of up to $1,000 each for its firefighters to attend such a program elsewhere. Fifteen district personnel took part in the training here.
West County's training center, which includes its Safety House for teaching children and other family members how to deal with home fires and other emergencies, is located behind Station 2 at 13790 Manchester Road. Viewed as one of the best operations of its type in the area, the facility was financed with part of the funds from a $19 million bond issue approved by West County voters in 2008.
In addition to conducting the program, Holmatro handled other logistics for the sessions, including arrangements for vehicles used in the training, supplying all the power tools, and providing the featured speaker, a doctor who serves as medical director of the Road to Indy Racing Series and the company's safety team physician.
October 16, 2015 - Webster-Kirkwood Times by Dennis Hannon
Shrewsbury is erecting a memorial to the late, highly regarded Fire Chief Bill Fox.
The memorial will consist of an antique hose cart that Fox owned, but never got around to restoring, Interim Chief Capt. Ken Buss reported to the Shrewsbury Board of Aldermen Tuesday.
The memorial will include a decorative stone with the cart and a memorial plaque that will include a photograph of Fox, who died unexpectedly May 30. It will be located on grounds of the fire and police departments share at 4400 Shrewsbury Ave.
"The guys thought it was a great idea, and we presented it to the mayor, and she thought it was a great idea," Buss said.
Several firefighters and some citizens contributed to the project, and funding is nearing completion. He said the firefighters are hoping to unveil the memorial at a service sometime in November.
KIRKWOOD PLANS TO HIRE 7 NEW FIREFIGHTER-PARAMEDICS
October 16, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch
KIRKWOOD - The Kirkwood City Council gave preliminary approval Thursday night to a bill allocating $219,000 to fund the salaries, benefits and equipment costs for seven new firefighter-paramedics in the last five months of the current fiscal year.
The firefighter-paramedics will staff a third ambulance being put into service in Kirkwood. It comes after city residents approved a 0.25 percent sales tax for the fire department on April 7. Campaigners for the tax proposition promised that if it won they would put a third ambulance into service and hire firefighter-paramedics to staff them.
The money would fund the seven firefighter-paramedics from Nov. 1 to March 31, the end of the fiscal year. The new ambulance would be at Firehouse No. 3 at 1321 West Essex Avenue. There already are ambulances at Firehouse No. 1 at 137 West Argonne Drive and Firehouse No. 2 at 11804 Big Bend Road.
Collection of the tax began on Oct. 1. Kirkwood is scheduled to get its first money from the tax in November.
The City Council is set to take a final vote on the measure at its Nov. 5 meeting.
ARSON INVESTIGATORS PROBE FIRES AT FRONT DOORS OF FOUR ST. LOUIS-AREA CHURCHES
Photo courtesy of St. Louis Fire Department.
October 15, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch
The ATF and the St. Louis Regional Bomb and Arson Unit are investigating a spate of small fires that were set at the front doors of four area churches within the last week.
No one was hurt in any of the fires. Officials describe them as minor and to the exterior of the buildings. Investigators are trying to determine if there is a connection. The ATF is the federal agency with jurisdiction over fires and arson.
The fires were all at churches within a few blocks of a four-mile stretch of Goodfellow Boulevard.
The first happened at about 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 8 at the Bethel Nondenominational Church at 6380 Lillian Avenue in St. Louis County. Sgt. Brian Schellman of the St. Louis County Police Department said the fire at Bethel was at the base of the church's west exterior door. The fire damage was minimal and confined to the exterior and underside of the door, he said. The damage was estimated at about $250, Schellman said.
The second was early Saturday outside the New Northside Missionary Baptist Church, at 8645 Goodfellow Boulevard in Jennings.
The third was at about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at St. Augustine Catholic Church, at 1371 Hamilton Avenue, near Minerva Avenue in St. Louis. The fire was extinguished by firefighters after two men noticed smoke and called 911.
The most recent was at 1 a.m. Thursday, at New Testament Church of Christ at 5740 Minerva Avenue.
New Northside discussed the arson attempt on its church Facebook page, posting a photo and saying in part "Satan is BUSY."
St. Louis Fire Department investigators have collected samples from the scenes and sent them for testing to see if an accelerant was used, said Capt. Garon Mosby of the St. Louis Fire Department.
PRUDENT TO ASK WHETHER FIREFIGHTERS CAN ASSIST THE POLICE
OPINION MAILBAG - by Richard Rosenfeld
October 15, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch
Firefighter Gregg Favre criticized my suggestion that firefighters assist the police in promoting public safety in St. Louis ("In the line of fire," Oct. 13). Firefighters, he says, are already too busy and are not trained to perform police duties. But his comments actually make my point.
Firefighting is an American success story. By getting residents to install smoke alarms and builders to use fire-retardant materials in residential and commercial construction, firefighters have greatly reduced the number of fires they have to combat. As a result, they have expanded their public safety tasks to encompass, according to Mr. Favre, "hazmat, water rescues, advanced emergency medical treatment and disaster preparedness initiatives." Asking firefighters to perform limited police functions augments the widened responsibilities our first responders have already assumed.
Additional training would be necessary, but Mr. Favre points out that firefighters already average 2,000 training hours each year. That's over 38 hours a week. A few of those hours could be devoted to police training without significant loss to emergency preparedness.
St. Louis is not experiencing a fire emergency, but the city does face a firearm violence problem that is hardly an "issue of the moment" as Mr. Favre calls it. As police and city leaders scramble to find the funds to hire more police officers, it is only prudent to ask whether a few of the nearly 780 uniformed firefighters might be enlisted to assist the police. They are all paid by tax dollars from the same public safety budget to promote, in Mr. Favre's words, "long-term regional safety, security and stability."
When a fire occurs, the police routinely assist their fellow emergency responders. Is it too much to ask firefighters to respond in kind?
Richard Rosenfeld - St. Louis Professor, University of Missouri-St. Louis
October 13, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Gregg Favre
At a recent Public Safety Committee meeting of the Board of Aldermen, University of Missouri-St. Louis criminologist Rick Rosenfeld suggested members of the St. Louis Fire Department may be needed to help fight crime in the city. Rosenfeld suggested that in the "down time between fires," firefighters and medics should walk patrols in high-density areas, ensure buildings were secured, and make random checks on unoccupied vehicles.
Crime is the epidemic, Rosenfeld claims, so we don't need the same level of preparedness for other emergencies. Regrettably, his misinterpretations of emergency operations draw shortsighted conclusions that are less than accurate and dangerous to both the public and responders. There are three critical problems with his suggestion.
First, the number of emergency calls answered by the St. Louis Fire Department continues to increase. Two decades ago, the busiest firefighting units in the city averaged 1,000 calls for service annually. Today, those same units are answering upward of 3,500 calls every year. In 2014, the department had one of its busiest years ever, recording more than 141,000 calls for service.
This substantial increase in call volume can be attributed to the fact that St. Louis responders have assumed a variety of additional daily responsibilities, including hazmat, water rescues, advanced emergency medical treatment and disaster preparedness initiatives.
When not managing one of the approximately 400 emergency requests every day, firefighters and medics are engaged in community-focused initiatives, including lifesaving education to schoolchildren, utilizing medical skills at health fairs, and providing safety inspections for neighborhood businesses. When units return to their stations, crews are often sharpening their skills, logging an average of 2,000 training hours per member, annually. While Rosenfeld is imprecise about how much down time St. Louis firefighters and medics have, a truthful statement would recognize that, compared to 25 years ago, a responder's workload has increased more than 350 percent.
Secondly, while Mr. Rosenfeld's idea of combining public safety resources is an interesting theoretical exercise, it is both operationally and politically imprudent. Repeatedly, studies from major universities and national public safety organizations have empirically demonstrated evidence against diluting the number and quality of trained first responders. Eliminating or combining personnel has been directly linked to the loss of lives, increased financial strain to compensate for influxes in workplace injuries, as well as litigation against municipalities for failing to protect their citizens adequately. If Rosenfeld's idea is fiscally motivated, his suggestions are misplaced.
Finally, and most importantly, Rosenfeld's proposal is outright dangerous for both the public and first responders. Policing, especially in a dynamic urban environment like St. Louis, requires specific training and specialized equipment. In violent situations, without this training and without this equipment, a Fire Department uniform is an unprepared target.
In St. Louis, we know this truth all too well. In 2008, while in uniform, St. Louis firefighter Leonard Riggins arrived at a serious car accident. One of the individuals involved in the crash (who was driving a stolen vehicle), believed firefighter Riggins was a police officer, and attacked him. With no equipment to defend himself and no training on handling violent criminals, firefighter Riggins was brutally murdered in the street, shot as he attempted to render aid.
A more complete view of this issue demonstrates that while Rosenfeld may be an expert criminologist, his ambiguous grasp of emergency services vocabulary should not be confused with any actual knowledge of comprehensive emergency services strategy. His call for first responders to have direct action in law enforcement activities is deeply misguided.
With the city's population rising, we must continue to craft policies for police, fire and EMS that accurately identify customer needs and promote accountability. As we have for the last 158 years, the St. Louis Fire Department stands ready to serve our community. We remain committed to being excellent partners with neighborhood, business and law enforcement leaders in an effort to build a stronger, safer St. Louis. In an age of revitalization, and facing an ever-mounting variety of complex threats, we have an obligation to addresses strategic questions with a focus on enduring solutions. Not, as Professor Rosenfeld would have, by haphazardly attempting to address the issues of the moment at the expense of long-term regional safety, security and stability.
Gregg Favre is a captain and a lead policy planner for the St. Louis Fire Department. An alum of The George Washington University School of Medicine, he currently studies public safety strategy at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. On Twitter: @GreggFavre
WENTZVILLE FIREFIGHTERS DISTRIBUTE COATS TO KIDS IN NEED
Photo by 70 West Sentinel
October 13, 2015 - 70 West Sentinel By: Tamara Duncan
WENTZVILLE, MO. - This past Saturday, Wentzville Professional Firefighters IAFF Local 2665 distributed 474 brand-new coats to children in need.
The event, which was held at the firehouse on West Pearce Boulevard in Wentzville, was funded through a trivia night that raised more than $15,000. The coats were purchased through Operation Warm and the Coats for Kids Foundation.
The firefighters worked with counselors in the Wentzville School District to identify children in need. Any children who were unable to attend the event will still receive their coats, as unclaimed coats will be taken to the school counselors for distribution, said Mary LaPak, district Director of Community Relations.
Before its Sept. 30 meeting, the Central County Emergency 911 Board of Directors had determined the task of hiring a new executive director was taking longer than anticipated. Accordingly, directors had asked Mike Turner, who earlier had announced he would retire as of Oct. 1, to remain on the job for as long as Dec. 31.
However, the situation changed dramatically after the board met in closed session near the end of that Sept. 30 meeting to continue the applicant review and evaluation process. Returning to open session, Board Chairman Tim Flora announced that the directors had voted to extend an employment offer to Tim Conroy, a former CCE employee who had joined St. Louis County as its fire dispatch deputy director.
Although the employment offer was announced, Flora said in a later interview that the hiring process is not yet final because a compensation package and other details still must be completed. Flora also emphasized that the boardâï¿½ï¿½s decision should in no way be viewed as setting the stage for a possible merger of CCE's fire and emergency medical dispatching operation with similar functions handled by the county's new communication center in Ohlendorf West Park. The possibility of combining the two dispatching centers has been raised in the past.
FIRE DISTRICT RECEIVED AWARD FROM HAZELWOOD SCHOOL DISTRICT
Photo by Black Jack Fire Protection District
October 9, 2015 - Black Jack Fire Protection District
BLACK JACK - At the Hazelwood School District board meeting Tuesday night, the Black Jack Fire District was given a certificate of appreciation by the school board for their work in the community.
Among the activities the firefighters helped with were the semi-annual Food 4 Thought food drive (with Florissant Valley FPD), the annual winter coat drive, the recent Back to School Giveaway for Teachers, and the construction of a wheelchair ramp for a special needs student.
The Black Jack Fire District is grateful for its partnership with Hazelwood School District!
STL FIRE CHIEF SAYS NO EXTRA MONEY FOR MORE OFFICERS
October 6, 2015 - KMOX
ST. LOUIS, MO. - St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson says there's no extra money that can be squeezed out of the fire department to hire more police.
"You look at our trucks, we've tried to get a bond issue passed," says Jenkerson. "Each year we have to become more efficient, because of some of the funding issues."
KMOX has obtained a 2014 outside study on the fire department that found an "excess capacity" in the fire-fighting resources. It recommended reducing the number of fire houses from 30 to 17. The number of firefighters was also cut by attribution to 120 per shift or a total of 360.
"When I came on the job in 1979, I believe at that time we had approximately 1500 firefighters. Im down to 600 right now," says Jenkerson. "We change with the times, we've made our job more efficient."
The study also shows about 74 percent of the calls for service were for medical emergencies and not fires.
SUPPORTERS, FOES IN UNIVERSITY CITY AMBULANCE SQUABBLE BOTH CLAIM VICTORY IN COURT CASE
October 7, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Steve Giegerich
UNIVERSITY CITY - Supporters and foes of outsourcing municipal emergency medical services are both laying claim to victory in an order handed down Monday in St. Louis County Circuit Court.
"We see this as a very solid win for the firefighters," said Kurt Becker, district vice president of the Professional Firefighters of Eastern Missouri, International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2665.
"Judge sides with U City," Mayor Shelley Welsch posted on her Facebook page.
The latest flash point over the August contract that turned emergency medical transportation over to privately-owned Gateway Ambulance is a consent order signed Monday by Circuit Court Judge Tom W. DePriest.
University City in the decree agreed to "comply with the language" of the collective bargaining contract it signed with the firefighters union in April.
Becker says the contract stipulates that city fire stations be continuously staffed by a minimum of 11 personnel.
"And it clearly states that two firefighters/paramedics be assigned to every ambulance," said Councilman Terry Crow.
"That isn't happening," Crow added, since the Gateway contract went into effect on Sept. 1.Crow and other critics contend that Gateway ambulances are for the most part staffed by a driver and a single trained medical technician.
A majority of University City firefighters doubled as paramedics.
City Manager Lehman Walker said the decree reinforces the stance University City has adhered to since reaching an accord with the fire fighters in April.
"We will continue to comply with the collective bargaining agreement, as we have done," Walker said in a Tuesday afternoon telephone interview.
Walker said the city currently has 37 fire personnel on its payroll, with budgeting to add two more.
Becker called Walker's assessment is "riddled with errors."
He contends that University City firehouses are perpetually understaffed - a situation Becker fears will worsen if the city follows through with a plan to deplete the ranks of firefighters through attrition.
The firefighters and city officials have been at odds since 2014 when a handful of fire department personnel were suspended for publicly supporting the campaign of a City Council candidate.
The hostilities escalated in August when the council approved the Gateway contract at the conclusion of a five-hour meeting attended by nearly 150 residents, the majority opposed to outsourcing what had traditionally been a city-provided service.
Supporters say the privatization will save the city money while providing residents with better response times by more alert crews.
Gateway ambulance personnel work 12-hour shifts; city firefighter are on duty 48 hours.
"We are very confident we made the right decision," Walker said.
The vote to install Gateway re-invigorated an effort to recall Councilman Stephen Kraft, a supporter of the Gateway agreement.
It also prompted a second recall petition that seeks to remove Welsch from office.
DePriest, the county jurist, issued his decision in response to a brief from the firefighters union seeking a writ of mandamus - defined by the Cornell University Legal Information Institute as an order for a "government official to properly fulfill their official duties or correct an abuse of discretion."
Crow said Councilwoman Paulette Carr, an ally in an effort to restore medical transportation responsibilities to the fire department, intends to address the decree order at the Oct. 12 council meeting.
October 5, 2015 - KMOX Kevin Killeen (@KMOXKilleen)
ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO. - If the underground fire at the Bridgeton landfill reaches nuclear waste in the nearby West Lake landfill, St. Louis County emergency planners say they're ready.
County Executive Steve Stenger has released to KMOX a plan drafted in October of 2014, which aims "to save lives in the event of a catastrophic event at the West Lake landfill."
The 11-page document warns "there is a potential for radioactive fallout to be released in the smoke plume and spread throughout the region."
Cities in the potential path of radioactive fallout are listed: Bridgeton, Hazelwood, Maryland Heights, the village of Champ and the city of St. Charles.
"This event will most likely occur with little or no warning," the study claims.
It also warns that local resources may not be adequate, and there will be a need for assistance from federal sources, the private sector and volunteer organizations.
In releasing the document, Stenger says he wants the public to know that the county is preparing for an event that everyone hopes will never take place.
"None of this is meant to be alarmist, but you have to be prepared," Stenger says.The disaster plan would go into effect under the direction of the first responding fire department to the landfill in the event of a surface fire.
Pattonville Assistant Fire Chief Matt LaVanchy says if someone were to call 911 and report smoke coming from the landfill, his team would go in first.
LaVanchy says equipment would be in place "within a half hour" to test the smoke for possible radiation.
If radiation were detected, some nearby residents would be urged to evacuate, and others would be urged to take shelter in their homes.
The plan envisions designated evacuation routes with police and barricades controlling the flow of traffic. Transportation at designated pick-up areas using church or school buses would be provided for evacuees who don't have their own transportation.
The Red Cross and Salvation Army would be called upon to assist with evacuees.The plan does not identify any specific facilities where evacuees would be sheltered. Family pets would be admitted to shelter facilities for evacuees.
In accordance with state law, no one would be forced to leave their residence after being advised to evacuate, the plan says.
But the plan says re-entry into evacuated areas would only begin after the Unified Command Post has declared the area safe. Residents who were told to take shelter would await an "all clear" declaration before going outside.
Notifying the Public of an Emergency
Mass media, text messages and public address systems on the county's tornado warning sirens would be used to alert the public if a landfill emergency exists.
"We would want the public notified as soon as practically possible," Stenger says, "and if there was evidence that we were in imminent danger, we would notify the public immediately."To prepare your cellphone to receive a text message of an actual landfill emergency, the county has provided a link.
Stenger released the disaster plan to KMOX after we reported last week about some landfill area residents receiving online brochures at their request about how to respond to a radiological emergency.
Stenger wanted to make it clear that the county has a larger plan in place that is being fine-tuned to prepare for a worst-case scenario.
October 4, 2015 - KMOV By Dan Greenwald, Online News Producer
HAZELWOOD, MO. - A man suffered substantial burns to his body after accidentally setting his house on fire in Hazelwood on Sunday night, firefighters said.
Around 10:10 p.m., the victim tried to light the fireplace at his home on Kenwood Drive when he accidentally set the house on fire, according to firefighters. Flames were shooting from the home when firefighters arrived.
Firefighters pulled the man from the house and he was taken to a hospital with severe burns to his body. He was the only person home at the time.
BATTALION CHIEF ELECTED DIRECTOR OF THE EDUCATION SECTION FOR THE NFPA
Photo by St. Louis Fire Department
October 4, 2015 - St. Louis Fire Department
ST. LOUIS, MO. - To kick off Fire Prevention Week, the St. Louis Fire Department is proud to announce Battalion Fire Chief Derrick Phillips was elected as Director of the Education Section for the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Chief Phillips currently serves as Chief Instructor for the STLFD Training Academy and Commander of the Office of Homeland Security.
The NFPA's executive board voted in favor of Chief Phillips due to his impressive Fire Service resume and extensive work in the field of Fire Prevention, including previous assignments as the department's Public Education Officer and Chief Fire Investigator.