<---weather sticker--->


of St. Louis County, Missouri USA
Website designed and maintained by
Retired Fire Chief Robert Ritter

Copyright 2013 - STLmetro FIRE NEWS

email: rprchief@yahoo.com


















Welcome To Our Web Site!
Visitors since Jan 2013: 154,187
Total Page Views:

(last up-date October 3, 2015)



Photo by Black Jack Fire Protection District

September 29, 2015 - Black Jack Fire Protection District

BLACK JACK, MO. - Black Jack firefighters spent the day building a wheelchair ramp for a child with special needs. Previously, they had to carry the wheelchair into the yard, then carry the child out to the wheelchair. Now the family has easy and safe access to the driveway. Thanks to Lowe's in Florissant for providing the materials at a discount!

More Headlines for Black Jack Fire


October 1, 2015 - KMOX By Kevin Killeen (@KMOXKilleen)

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO. - Instructions on what to do in the event of a radiological emergency have been prepared by St. Louis County - but there are no plans to widely distribute them to those living around the West Lake landfill.

The brochure, which does not mention the West Lake landfill, is based on a Centers for Disease Control brochure and marked "provided by St. Louis County."

Dawn Chapman, of the Just Moms landfill watchdog group, says it's good to see the county is planning ahead about what to do if the landfill fire reaches the nuclear waste.

"You know, it explains where to go in your home should there be radiological, nuclear fallout," Chapman says. "What rooms to go to, what you're going to need. It talks about shutting of your AC. I mean, it really is a scary read."

Chapman says she obtained a copy of the brochure from the St. Ann Business Association, with the understanding that copies of the brochure were going to be distributed to the public at a booth during a food truck fair planned in St. Ann this Sunday.

A spokesman for St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger confirms the St. Louis County Office of Emergency Management prepared the brochure based on a template from the CDC.

Spokesman Cordell Whitlock says the county has been invited to participate in the St. Ann event, but has not made a commitment to do so at this time.

Whitlock also says there are no plans for any mass mailings of the guidelines, but that a handful have been distributed to "residents who requested them."

"If there is a radiation emergency, St. Louis County is fully prepared and fully committed to doing what we can on a local level," Whitlock says.

Pattonville Fire Protection District Assistant Chief Matt LaVanchy has also seen the county guidelines, and praised them as "proactive."

More on KMOX story

More Headlines for Pattonville Fire


Photo by West County EMS & Fire Protection District

September 30, 2015 - KTVI BY JOE MILLITZER,

VALLEY PARK, MO. - Bomb and Arson investigators have been called to a fire in the 800 block of Crescent Ridge. Firefighters were on the scene of the two alarm fire at around 1pm Wednesday afternoon.

Valley Park Fire was in command, with mutual aid from West County EMS & Fire, Des Peres Fire and Fenton Fire.

The St. Louis County Bomb and Arson Unit are still investigating this case. They tell FOX 2 that they are still unsure of the reason for the fire.

More details will be posted as this story develops. Refresh this page for the latest update.

More on KTVI story


September 29, 2015 - KTVI BY BETSEY BRUCE

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO. - St. Louis County Tuesday opened a new Emergency Operations Center in Ballwin Missouri. The center boosts some of the latest in technology to help St. Louis County residents in need of help and help coordinate disaster relief.

Reporter Betsey Bruce toured the new center today and asked a center official what can be done to help those who only have cell phones that don't broadcast the user's locations.

More on KTVI story

More Headlines for Emergency Management


Kirkwood Fire Chief Thomas Openlander is set to retire. Openlander was named fire chief in 1997, having been hired away from the Webster Groves Fire Department. photo by Ursula Ruhl

September 25, 2015 - Webster-Kirkwood Times

KIRKWOOD, MO. - Thomas Openlander says being chief in Kirkwood was "the honor of my life"

Kirkwood Fire Chief Thomas Openlander has announced his retirement effective Oct. 9 of this year.

Openlander worked for the city from January 1997 to July 2005, and from November 2007 to the present, both times as fire chief.

He retired in 2005 for medical reasons, having been diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis in 1998. After a two-year hiatus, Openlander returned to his post in 2007.

"I never really felt like I retired," Openlander told the Times in 2007, after being reinstated as fire chief. "More like I switched jobs and have spent the last two years working full-time on regaining my physical strength and mobility.

"the 2000 bond issue that Kirkwood voters overwhelmingly approved to rebuild the city's three fire houses and to save the historic fire house on Big Bend.

It was under Openlander's leadership that Kirkwood added an ambulance service to its fire department.

Earlier this year, in April, Kirkwood votes passed Prop 1, a quarter-cent sales tax for fire and ambulance services.

Prior to his employment with Kirkwood, he worked for the city of Webster Groves from 1980 to 1997. His last position with Webster was battalion chief.

"It has been the greatest privilege, and the honor of my life, to be the fire chief in Kirkwood," Openlander said. "While I am very pleased with what has been accomplished by the fire department under my leadership, I also believe that an effective leader understands when to step aside. I am confident that your new fire chief will possess the 'right stuff' to guide our department to even greater heights.

"I am very excited to see what great things lie ahead for the Kirkwood Fire Department as they continue to provide outstanding service to our community," Openlander continued.

Kirkwood will name an interim fire chief while it conducts a nation-wide search for a permanent replacement. The first step will be to hire a national search firm. A request for proposal to such firms has been prepared and will be issued shortly, according to a statement from the city.

The estimated time to hire a search firm, select candidates, conduct interviews, and hire a new fire chief is six months, according to the city.

More on Webster-Kirkwood Times story

More Headlines for Kirkwood Fire


Photo by Hazelwood Firefighters Community Outreach

September 28, 2015 - Hazelwood Firefighters Community Outreach

HAZELWOOD, MO. - September 26th 2015, the Hazelwood Fire Department celebrated the retirement of Firefighter/EMT Rick Paul. Rick served the Hazelwood Fire Department for 38 years achieving numerous advanced certifications, receiving multiple commendations for brave and honorable service and was always a willing and valuable mentor for future generations.

We wish Rick and his family a long and happy retirement. You deserve it, Brother!! - RCP

More Headlines for Hazelwood Fire


St. Louis firefighters participating are seated (L to R) Capt. Larry Conley, Capt. Garon Mosby, FF. Jessica Jackson, FF. Jeff Weffelmeyer and FF. Chris Tobin. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

September 25, 2015 - Call News By Bill Greenblatt

ST. LOUIS, MO. - Africa Fire Mission founder David Moore makes his remarks in St. Louis on September 26, 2015, announcing that five fire fighters from the St. Louis Fire Department will join others in Nairobi, Kenya to teach various firefighting subjects to firefighters there in November.

Moore, the former Fire Chief of the Glendale Fire Department in Cincinnati and twenty-two fire professionals will teach the first ever "All Kenya Fire Academy," for ten days in a population of five million with only 150 fire fighters and two fire trucks.

Moore founded the Africa Fire Mission to ensure that the fire service operating in Africa are able to protect the public safety of their citizens and sensure they are able to provide effective disaster relief.

More Headlines for St. Louis Fire


Photo by Metro West Fire Protection District

September 25, 2015 - Metro West Fire Protection District

Metro West would like to announce the promotion of Michael Digman, who has served the organization as Captain / Paramedic and "C Shift" Battalion Training Officer to the rank of Battalion Chief / Shift Commander.

While serving in his previous roles, Battalion Chief Digman was instrumental in the organization. A few of his accomplishments thus far have been:

- Captain in charge of one of Metro West's busiest Stations assigned to Engine / Rescue Company 3344.

- Served as one of three Training Officers, leader & instructor in Metro West's Training Division

- Led the redesign of the Personal Protective Equipment

- He is the author of the Metro West "Standards of Cover" and maintains all the statistical analysis for Metro West's International Accreditation

- He has been extremely involved in the community education, injury prevention and emergency management programs

- Member of Missouri Task Force 1

- And many other accomplishments and skills...

Battalion Chief Digman's assignment will be forthcoming. Please join us in congratulating him on this WELL DESERVED accomplishment!

More Headlines for Metro West Fire


Photo By Danny Wicentowski

September 25, 2015 - Riverfront Times Posted By Danny Wicentowski

ST. LOUIS, MO. - Is St. Louis' Fire Department too white?

After years of saber-rattling and declarations of discontent, a group of black St. Louis firefighters is now suing the city over its policies governing promotions. According to the lawsuit, those policies are designed to block black firefighters from climbing the career ladder - and, even worse, the suit claims that the city's Department of Personnel is working to dismantle successful diversity reforms set in place in the late 1970s.

Initially filed in a state Circuit Court in August, the suit was transferred to federal court last week. The 140 plaintiffs, all black firefighters, are described as members of the Firefighters Institute for Racial Equality, or F..I.R.E., an organization which has fought for decades against systemic racism in the Fire Department.

"We're not asking for some kind of rigid proportionality, we're not saying every time a white firefighter is promoted a black one should be promoted, or even that the level of officers should reflect he diversity of the city," says F.I.R.E. attorney Joe Jacobson. But, he adds, "Those things would all be nice. We think those things would be achievable if the tests were done in a fair way."

Jacobson is referring to the tests given to firefighters seeking promotion to battalion chief or captain. The new lawsuit takes particular issue with the tests administered in 2013.

Prior to the test, the lawsuit states, F.I.R.E. contacted the City Comptroller to request that test assessors reflect the same racial and gender diversity as the firefighters taking the test. Among other safeguards, F.I.R.E. also asked that the written test be graded immediately and that the performance portion of the test be recorded on audio or video.

But none of the recommendations were put into place, despite the fact that the city's Board of Estimate and Appointment passed a resolution asking Richard Frank, the city's Director of Personnel, to implement those very safeguards. Frank, we should point out, is granted a special measure of independence by law; he's not bound by resolutions issued by the E&A Board, the mayor's office or the Board of Aldermen.

When the 2013 promotion tests rolled around, F.I.R.E. claims that the Department of Personnel structured the exams "to maximize the adverse impact" on black firefighters. The lawsuit notes that the written tests were graded off-site and were subjected to "undisclosed adjustments." The suit goes on to claim that black candidates for promotion had their test scores altered.

"Following the exam, one of our clients was told by the assessor that he had the highest score, but when the scores came back months later, he didn't have the highest score, he was down in the middle of the pack," says Jacobson. He argues that this kind of discrepancy reveals the rotten intent behind the city's testing procedures.

Questions sent on Wednesday to St. Louis City Counselor Winston Calvert were not returned.

The lawsuit comes after years of advocacy on the part of F.I.R.E.. Along with the U.S. Department of Justice, the group successfully sued the city in 1974 to place a consent decree on the Department of Personnel. The consent decree mandated "50/50 hiring," stipulating that every white firefighter given a job would be matched by the employment of a black firefighter. This consent decree was enforced until 2002. A court order eliminated 50/50 hiring in 2003.

In a 2010 report examining the hiring, retention and upward mobility of black St. Louis city firefighters, F.I.R.E. contrasted the diverse makeup of the Fire Department following the 1970s reforms with the present day's increasingly white-dominated department. The report concluded: "It is F.I.R.E.'s belief that the Personnel Department has made a conscious decision to go back to tests that benefit white candidates over black in an effort to decrease the number of blacks officers on the Fire Department."

More on Riverfront Times story

More Headlines for St. Louis Fire


September 24, 2015 - KMOV By Dan Greenwald, Online News Producer

UNIVERSITY CITY, MO. - Despite concerns over response times, University City officials decided not to make changes to the city's EMS service.

The move came after News 4 learned at an employee with the ambulance service used by the city was disciplined after it took 15 minutes for an ambulance to respond to a heart attack call. University City recently outsourced it's EMS services to Gateway Ambulance.

"We've taken measures with Gateway to ensure it won't happen again, it was an employee issue that has been dealt with," said a University City official.

Two city council members attempted to pass a bill to resolve some of the problems with Gateway. Even though many members of the public spoke in favor of the measure, the proposal did not pass.

University City's mayor said it's not up to the city council to regulate contracts. He said that responsibility lies with the city manager, but the city manager told News 4 he will not make any changes.

More on KMOV story

More Headlines for University City Fire


Photo by KMOV

September 24, 2015 - KMOV By Christina Santiago

ST. CHARLES COUNTY, MO. - Three paramedics took two emergency calls for cardiac arrests just hours apart - using new protocols, they they revived both victims.

"The chances of the same crew being called for two cardiac arrests in a single shift is extremely slim, but for both to have successful outcomes is absolutely unheard of. Sunday was a once-in-a-career experience - one that the three of us will never forget," said Heather Briggs, one of two paramedics.

Paramedics Heather Briggs and Kelly Maull got the first call just before 9 a.m. Sunday. Paramedic Battalion Chief Sara Stewart joined the duo. While they assessed their patient for reported seizure activity, he went into cardiac arrest. The team immediately started cardio-cerebral resuscitation, and within minutes, the patient regained a pulse and was responsive.

Just hours later, the trio got another call - a witnessed cardiac arrest in a nearby subdivision. Briggs, Maull and Stewart made it to James Lampe, 46, in two minutes. Lampe's wife, Lana, is a registered nurse and started CPR while the crew was en route. The paramedics provided care on the scene, and on the way to the hospital, Lampe started breathing on his own, regained a pulse, and could follow commands.

St. Charles County Ambulance District (SCCAD) Paramedics have used a new approach to cardiac arrest management called cardio-cerebral resuscitation (CCR) since June. SCCAD reached a 39 percent survival rate by implementing this back-to-basics approach; the national survival rate average for cardiac arrests is less than 10 percent.

SCCAD hopes to see survival rates improve further with Lifesaver CPR, a free training initiative aimed at getting people comfortable doing chest compressions until paramedics arrive.

More on KMOV story

More Headlines for St. Charles County Ambulance District


September 24, 2015 - KMOX

ST. LOUIS, MO. - St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay's office is not immediately denouncing the idea of cutting money from the fire budget to hire more police.

A spokesperson for the mayor says no idea should be off the table when crime reduction is the top priority.

In a report by KMOX earlier this week, UMSL criminologist Rick Rosenfeld suggested taking money from the fire department's budget and using it to hire more police.

"We don't have a fire public safety crisis in the city of St. Louis. We have a gun violence crisis," Rosenfeld said.

He told the Aldermanic Public Safety Committee the city has too many firemen sitting around waiting for a fire, but police are overworked.

The firefighters union is strongly opposing the suggestion that there's extra money that could be cut to hire more police.

KMOX still has not heard a response from St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson. He is deferring all comments to the mayor's office.

More on KMOX story

More Headlines for St. Louis Fire


September 22, 2015 - The Telegraph By Linda N. Weller - lweller@civitasmedia.com

ALTON, ILL. A man fell last week at Lincoln Shields Recreation Area across the Mississippi River in Missouri, with people on site questioning why closer, Alton paramedics didn't respond to the 911 call.

"It's not our venue," said Chief Bernie Sebold, of the Alton Fire Department. "We are not required via mutual aid to go. Rivers Pointe Fire Protection District is in Missouri and St. Charles County (Mo.); Rivers Pointe is responsible for the call. With having cell phones and 911, just because they dial 911 and it initially goes to the Alton Police Department, does not mean Alton responds with police and fire."

That 911 call did go to the Alton police telecommunicator, but it was paramedics from Rivers Pointe and Christian Hospital Ambulance Service that showed up after APD notified the St. Charles County 911 center.

An unhappy person at the scene estimated it took 20 minutes for the paramedics to arrive, and said Alton could have gotten there sooner. Not only was the man injured when he fell and hit his head, people there were concerned about his history of heart problems and they wanted a quick response to their call.

The river, though, delineates not only the state lines but the individual fire departments' venues and responders' emergency medical technician or paramedic certifications. Sebold said rescuers may not be certified in the other state, presenting a legal problem if the Illinoisans go into Missouri, and vice versa.

As part of the area's Mutual Aid Box Alarm System agreement, Alton would respond to a call across the river in St. Charles County and further into some North St. Louis County municipalities in MABAS Division 35 - if asked.

Likewise, Chief Richard Pender of Rivers Pointe, said he would send manpower to Alton - if requested for mutual aid through MABAS. Rivers Pointe has fire stations in West Alton and Portage des Sioux, but is a volunteer organization and not manned all of the time. Sometimes firefighters come from home to respond to calls, he said.

Regarding the Sept. 15 call to Lincoln Shields, Pender could not provide the response time. "It was probably 10 minutes or less. I knew Christian (Hospital Ambulance) was going. Even if we had not gone, Christian was there. Sometimes Christian gets there before my guys."

If neither Rivers Pointe nor Christian can respond to a call, Pender said they ask for the next closest agency's emergency responder to make the run.

Pender echoed Sebold's comment about jurisdictional lines."It was not closer (than Alton), but it was in our jurisdiction," Pender said of the Lincoln Shields call. "If it's not our jurisdiction we don't go into other people's jurisdictions" unless requested. "If we see smoke in Alton, we don't hop on a truck and go. With 911, we can't assume fire and EMS haven't been notified. That's pretty much what 911 is for."

He said many times two people have called 911 from near the river and the calls have gone to separate towers in both states - in Missouri and Alton, for instance - for the same incident. "A lot of it comes down to jurisdiction and how 911 calls are routed," Pender said.

Sebold said such misdirected calls do happen and he wasn't surprised people at the scene were questioning why the AFD didn't respond.

"A lay person maybe doesn't understand that proximity doesn't have anything to do with it," he said. "If someone is out in a boat in the water we will err on the side of safety, and we have done that" instead of taking time to determine which agency has jurisdiction.

When such calls come to the Alton dispatcher, and police or fire officials determine the location is not in AFD's venue, the APD telecommunicator either switches the call to the appropriate agency or calls it directly, Sebold said. This applies to neighboring towns in Illinois, as well as across the river in Missouri.

More on The Telegraph story


September 22, 2015 - KMOV By Dan Greenwald, Online News Producer

ST. LOUIS, MO. - A criminologist recently suggested St. Louis City should consider using firefighters to fight violent crime during their downtime.

University of St. Louis-Missouri criminologist Rick Rosenfeld, who is also an informal advisor to St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson, brought up the idea during a St. Louis Safety meeting Tuesday. Rosenfeld said the city should look at the idea of having some firefighters patrol the streets when they are not responding to fire calls.

"I'm not suggesting we arm firefighters, certainly not initially," said Rosenfeld. "Each time a firefighter, which I think should be called a 'public safety officer,' engages in one of those activities, it frees a police officer for that amount of time to engage in hot spot patrols and other activities that can have a real crime reduction effect."

Rosenfeld believes the idea may not be supported by the firefighters union, which has not commented on the proposal. However, the St. Louis Fire Department tweeted that it is very busy, answering 140,000 emergency calls per year.

The St. Louis Police Department and Mayor Francis Slay also refused to comment on Rosenfeld's suggestion. However, Slay's office said no idea should be off the table when tackling violent crime.

More on KMOV story

More Headlines for St. Louis Fire


September 22, 2015 - KMOX Kevin Killeen (@KMOXKilleen)

ST. LOUIS, MO. - With the police chief calling for more officers and the St. Louis Board of Aldermen looking for some way to fund them, UMSL criminologist Rick Rosenfeld has a suggestion - take the money from the fire department.

Rosenfeld says he thinks the extra money should from the public safety budget, but reallocated from fire services.

"We don't have a fire public safety crisis in the city of St. Louis. We have a gun violence crisis," he says.

Rosenfeld told the Aldermanic Public Safety Committee the city has too many firemen sitting around waiting for a fire, when police are overworked.

KMOX is awaiting a response from Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson.

More on KMOX story

More Headlines for St. Louis Fire


September 21, 2015 - KTVI BY ANDY BANKER

ST. LOUIS, MO. - A big announcement about the future of a St. Louis tradition Monday night; the Guns 'N Hoses benefit for the families of police, firefighters, and EMS workers, killed in the line of duty.

The event is the biggest fundraiser of the year for BackStoppers, the organization that covers things like mortgage payments and college costs for families of the fallen. It will still be held at the Scottrade Center, but for a 2nd straight year, the date will be moving, and for one of those families, back where it belongs.

More on KTVI story


Jeremy Henderson, of Hazelwood, was convicted in the arson murder of a man killed in an apartment fire.

September 21, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch

ST. LOUIS - A man convicted last month of starting a fatal fire at a Hazelwood apartment complex in 2012 was sentenced Monday to 21 years in prison, officials said.

Jeremy Henderson, 23, of the 5300 block of Ville Angela Lane in Hazelwood, was found guilty of first-degree arson and second-degree murder on Aug. 17 after a jury trial. A previous trial had ended in a mistrial.

Henderson was accused in the death of 48-year-old Mike Mansfield, who was killed in an apartment fire on Aug. 4, 2012.

The apartment building is at building at 5230 Villa Rosa Lane. Police say they got a tip that Henderson was involved. Henderson told police he served as a lookout while others poured gasoline in the apartment building's hallways and near the door of their intended victim.

Mansfield wasn't the target but it was not clear who was, court records say.

Henderson told police he saw one of the other people light a match and set the gasoline-soaked carpet on fire. The others involved in setting the blaze have not been identified.

Several other people, including an infant, were stranded on the third and highest floor of the 10-unit building until rescuers arrived.

Mansfield was a gas station attendant for his landlord and also cleaned fish tanks for an aquarium service company, his family has said.

More on St. Louis Post Dispatch story

More Headlines for Hazelwood Fire


Angela Orf from St. Peters, Missouri points to her husbands name on a granite wall, after the International Association of Fire Fighters Annual Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial observance in Colorado Springs on September 19, 2015. Orf died from complications from a work related illness in April of 2015. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

September 20, 2015 - KMOX

COLORADO SPRINGS, Col.- The lives of at least two Missouri firefighters were remembered, Saturday, at a ceremony in Colorado Springs.

The International Association of Fire Fighters annual fallen fire fighters memorial service paid tribute to the nearly 300 who've died in the line of duty over the past year.

The families of John Orf of St. Peters and Joseph Schmidt, Jr. of Mehlville made the trip to Colorado for the service.

More on KMOX story

More Headlines for Central County Fire


September 19, 2015 - KSDK Jimmy Bernhard, KSDK

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO. - Approximately 20 cars were damaged or destroyed in an overnight fire at the Bent Pine Condominiums in South St. Louis County.

According to Deputy Chief Kent Snelson with the Mehlville Fire Protection District, the fire started around 3:15 a.m. Saturday morning.

Witnesses say they heard 'explosions' and when they looked outside they saw the carport and the cars underneath on fire.

Photos: Cars, buildings damaged in overnight fire

Snelson says he witnessed a few lightning strikes in the area around the time the fire started, but they have not determined the cause the initial fire.

Several buildings in the area also sustained damage due to the heat, but no residents were injured or displaced from the fire.

"I heard a quiet pop and thought if I hear another one I'm going to go check," Julie Stelfox, a resident in the complex who had her car damaged, said. "I came out of the bedroom about 3:20 a.m. and my living room was orange. I looked out the deck and there was a car on fire and a bunch of other cars that looked like they were catching on fire and I started screaming for everyone to get out. 'Get up and get out!' I started banging on doors and running. I would bet within 20-30 seconds every car was on fire. I'm going to go car shopping tomorrow."

This story will up updated when more information becomes available.

More on KSDK story

More Headlines for Mehlville Fire


September 18, 2015 - Creve Coeur Fire Protection District

CREVE COEUR, MO. - The Creve Coeur Fire Protection District is actively seeking applicants to establish a hiring list for the position of Paramedic Firefighter. Applications are to be picked up in person and returned at: 11221 Olive Boulevard, Creve Coeur, MO. Applications (including updated resumes and copies of certifications) will be available and accepted from September 21, 2015 through October 20, 2015 between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

Applicants will be required to take a written test on October 27, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. NO applications will be accepted the morning of the test. Requirements for employment are: Current Driver's and Current Missouri EMT-P Licenses and St. Louis County Fire Standards Professional Firefighter I and II Certifications, High School Graduate or Equivalent, ACLS, PHTLS or BTLS, and PALS.

Click here for additional information

More Headlines for Creve Coeur Fire


Among the attendees were, from left Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson, Chief of the St. Louis Fire Department and parishioner at St. Ambrose; Jeffrey Beaton, Chief of Glendale Police Department and parishioner at Sacred Heart in Valley Park; and Daniel O'Connor of the Des Peres Police Department and parishioner at Immaculate Conception in Arnold. Photo by Lisa Johnston | lisajohnston@archstl.org

September 16, 2015 - St. Louis Review Dave Luecking | daveluecking@archstl.org | twitter: @stlreviewscribe

ST. LOUIS, MO. - Hanging between aerial ladders of two St. Louis Fire Department trucks parked on Lindell Boulevard, the Stars and Stripes greeted worshippers on a sunny September Sunday afternoon at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.

The occasion was the Archdiocese of St. Louis' first "Blue Mass" to honor, thank and pray for emergency responders -- police, firefighters, EMTs and others who often put themselves at risk and whose families and friends sacrifice in their absence, all in the name of public safety.

"In a world where a lot of first responders don't always see appreciation of their work, it's awesome that the Catholic Church is supporting us, ... doing this in an official capacity," said Chris Rumpsa, who has been with St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department for 12 years and was detail commander for the honor guard at the Blue Mass.

Jason Schenimann, a firefighter with Mehlville Fire Protection District, described the Blue Mass, simply, as "great." He brought up the gifts, along with Mehlville fire Captain Jeff Martini, St. Louis police Detective Leo Rice and St. Louis police Lt. Tony Aubuchon.

"I was lucky enough to be a part of it," said Schenimann, who joined the fire department in June and is a member of St. Augustine Parish. Fellow Mehlville firefighter Timothy Hunn recruited him to be part of the Mass. Hunn read the first reading.

"We were working one day and struck up a conversation about the Church," said Schenimann, born and raised Catholic through St. Joseph Parish in Scott City, south of Cape Girardeau. "Next thing you know he's asking me to be part of it. I was more than happy to."

Same with Major Rochelle Jones, south patrol commander in the city. A member of Holy Trinity Parish, she handled the second reading.

"I just got a phone call, 'Do you want to be a reader,' and I said, 'Oh, yeah,'" she said, adding that declining the invitation "would be like telling, 'No,' to Jesus. You don't say, 'No,' to Jesus. I was very honored just to be a part of it and very honored to serve the city of St. Louis and just being a first responder."

Before Mass, Jones processed down the Cathedral center aisle with fellow first responders, some in dress uniforms and others in regular work uniforms. Police and fire departments from around the archdiocese were represented. Just about a full house filled the pews, which meant a lot to emergency reponders at Mass.

"I'm glad all the citizens came out to show support, especially during these times when we're not getting a lot of support," Jones said. "Usually, no one says, 'Boo.' This is so nice."

The incidents in Ferguson and other parts of the country in the past year have engendered disdain -- and in some cases outright hostility and violence -- for police officers. Police officers have been murdered in New York City, Texas and recently in Kentucky, in unprovoked attacks.

Those incidents only reinforce the danger under which emergency responders -- police officers in particular -- work. The "thin blue line" often stands between the public and harm, a reality that increasingly has been acknowledged.

"I've been doing this 10 years and I've never seen the support we've seen from people over the last year," said Dave Rudolph of the St. Louis police department. "We know there's a silent majority that loves us."

Lt. Ron Miesner offered kudos to the archdiocese for supporting law enforcement and public safety. He sat with fellow Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers at Mass and reconnected afterward with Father Mike Boehm, his former pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes in Washington.

A former volunteer with the Washington Fire Department, Father Boehm concelebrated the Blue Mass with Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Rice. Bishop Emeritus Robert J. Hermann and Jesuit Father Joe Laramie also concelebrated the Mass. Deacons Mark Byington and Gerry Knobbe, both former police officers, assisted.

In the homily, Bishop Rice thanked first responders for their service and their families for their sacrifice.

"It's important that we say 'Thank you,' especially in these days where there seems to be an outward scorn and contempt for our public servants," he said, also offering the thanks on behalf of Archbishop Robert J. Carlson. "We the citizens of St. Louis and the Catholic community of St. Louis ... pray for you. We owe you a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid."

Bishop Rice also expressed thanks for the support his family received after the death of his brother John in a house fire last year. John Rice, 61, was a deputy with St. Louis sheriff's department and a former city police officer.

"The kindness of the fire fighters, the police and the medics will never be forgotten by my family," he said.

Perhaps the most poignant moment of the Blue Mass came at the final blessing, when former county police officer Dan Jackson played "Amazing Grace" on the bag pipes in memory of emergency responders who died in the line of duty.

"Eternal rest grant unto them, Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them," Bishop Rice said. "May they rest in peace."

More on St. Louis Review story

More Headlines for St. Louis Fire


September 15, 2015 - West Newsmagazine By: Jim Erickson

Personnel of the West County EMS/FPD took center stage at the district's Board of Directors meeting on Sept. 9.

Three firefighter/paramedics received promotions, three others were recognized for their life-saving efforts and two others joined the department.

The promotions came about as a way to expand the district's training efforts. Promoted to captain to be in charge of training on West County's three work shifts were veteran firefighter/paramedics Dave Klump, Dan Burnett and Kevin Smith.

According to Dave Cobb, board chairman, the district has wanted to increase its emphasis on training and opted to promote three qualified employees to achieve that goal instead of hiring additional personnel.

Cobb noted that West County's ongoing training efforts paid off in an unexpected way during an exercise last month at House No. 2. During a training program, a participating member of the Creve Coeur Fire Protection District suffered a cardiac arrest. The response of four West County firefighter/paramedics in providing emergency care at the scene and while rushing the stricken man to the hospital was credited with saving his life.

Recognized at the board meeting for their efforts were the just-promoted Klump, Eric Heimos, Rob Hollman and Brian Heppermann.

In addition, it was announced that Corey Meyer and John Craig have joined West County as firefighter-paramedics to fill positions created by two recent resignations.

More on West Newsmagazine story

More Headlines for West County Fire



September 15, 2015 - KMOV By Stephanie Baumer, Online News Producer

BRENTWOOD, MO. - Eight people were transported to the hospital after an ammonia leak was reported at the Brentwood Recreation Center Tuesday morning.

According to officials, the "significant" leak occurred at the center, located in the 2500 block of South Brentwood, around 11 a.m.

As a precaution, four firefighters, three civilians and one city worker were taken to the hospital.

According to officials, the ammonia leak has been capped and is contained to the ice rink where ammonia is kept for the refrigeration system for the ice.

More on KMOV story


September 15, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Jeremy Kohler

The fragmentation of fire protection in St. Louis and St. Louis County has led to inefficiencies, safety concerns and uneven funding and management, according to a study released Tuesday by a group studying the benefits of consolidating area governments.

The report was issued by Better Together, a St. Louis-based nonprofit studying possible benefits of regional cooperation, which has published a series of reports pointing to inefficiencies in public safety, public finance, public healthand economic development.

The study, the first of two the group plans to issue about fire and emergency services in greater St. Louis, points to disparities in the services provided among the 43 municipal fire departments and fire protection districts, which employ 2,250 people in 118 firehouses at a cost of $334 million per year.

Among the findings:

- There are also no standard operating procedures across departments. This can result in 43 different ways to potentially manage a fire and the potential for confusion if a department is called in to aid another at a fire scene.

- Only the St. Louis Fire Department operates its own fulltime hazmat team. County departments have to muster a hazmat response team from across the region, which can cost valuable time.

- Departments have no central location to repair vehicles, often sending equipment to out-of-state shops, which costs time and money and risks people's safety.

- The city and county operate two fire academies, and neither honor the validity of the other's academy.

- Poorer areas struggle to provide fire services, while wealthier areas have excellent fire protection.

The study comes at a time when fire districts across the region are in need of capital improvements.

"Fire protection and emergency medical services have been provided to the St. Louis region at the highest level possible despite systemic, structural problems in the region resulting from fragmentation," the study found. There are "better, more efficient ways to provide fire protection and emergency medical services that that circumvent the fragmentation of the St. Louis region."

The authors of the study praised the transparency and cooperation from fire districts, compared with its experience with municipal governments and police departments.

The bill from municipalities and police departments for providing public records were about $25,000, the study found, while the fire districts charged about $150.

More on St. Louis Post Dispatch story

Comments on this article


September 15, 2015 - West Newsmagazine By: Jim Erickson

MEHLVILLE, MO. - The Monarch Fire Protection District soon will make available a device designed to provide vital medical information to first responders in times of crisis. Also available is a smart phone application that will send an alert to the fire district in any emergency situation.

The information device and phone app work independently, but can easily be used in tandem, explained Monarch's Deputy Chief Nick Harper, who reviewed the concepts at the district's Sept. 9 Board of Directors meeting.

Known as a Vital Board, the medical information device is equipped with magnets and resembles what some people put on refrigerators for posting reminders, grocery lists and other short messages. The Monarch logo appears on the board's front side. On its back will be spaces where users can enter medications they take and where they are located within the home. Users also can list emergency contacts and other information important to first responders, especially if the person involved in the emergency is unable to communicate.

Vital Boards cost about $2, Harper said, but Monarch plans to make them available at no cost to district residents who request them. He said the boards will be available soon, perhaps as early as the end of the month, and that more public announcements on how to get one will be made then.

The smart phone app, known as Vital ICE (in case of emergency), can be downloaded on smart phones from a number of online sources. Harper described it as "very robust" in terms of the tasks it performs. Among other things, when activated it will send a pre-written text message to one or more recipients advising that the user is in some kind of distress and asking that 911 be called.

Accompanying that text are map coordinates (longitude and latitude) indicating where the message originated. Such information enables today's computer-aided dispatching systems to pinpoint the caller's street address, highway location or off-road site.

The app is free but those downloading it are asked to make a $3 donation, Harper said. He added that a number of other area fire protection districts also anticipate making the Vital Board available, as well as information about the phone app.

Noting the systems' compatibility, Harper said that the Vital Board also contains a space for a four-digit code that will activate the phone app.

More on West Newsmagazine story

More Headlines for Monarch Fire

Comments on this article


Mark Ferry, of Arnold, was charged with taking an ambulance Sept. 11, 2015, while it was parked outside St. Anthony's Medical Center

September 14, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Joel Currier

KIRKWOOD - An Arnold man has been charged with stealing an ambulance parked Friday outside an emergency room in St. Louis County.

Mark Ferry, 36, of the first block of Ozark Hills Mobile Home Court, was charged Saturday with stealing a motor vehicle and second-degree burglary. Ferry was jailed in lieu of a $20,000 bail.

Police say Ferry took an unlocked Kirkwood ambulance parked outside St. Anthony's Medical Center about 12:15 p.m. Friday. Paramedics were inside the hospital with a patient at the time. The keys were in the cab, but the ambulance's engine was off.

An hour later, a resident of the 5300 block of Ferbet Estates Drive, near Butler Hill and Kerth roads, called police to report a Kirkwood ambulance parked in her driveway. An officer noticed a broken window in the rear of the woman's home and requested backup.

A police dog and officers found Ferry hiding in an upstairs bedroom. During the arrest, the dog bit Ferry's arm. He was found with the keys to the ambulance in his pockets. Police also found bags of clothing and medications bearing Ferry's name.

A Mehlville Fire Protection District ambulance returned Ferry to St. Anthony's for treatment of the dog bite.

More on St. Louis Post Dispatch story

More Headlines for Kirkwood Fire

Comments on this article


September 14, 2015 - KTVI BY SHAWNDREA THOMAS

CLAYTON, MO. - Hundreds of people gathered in Clayton Sunday to remember those lost in the September 11th attacks. More than 300 people gathered to do their part to remember the 343 firefighters and first responders who died in the September 11th attacks at the World Trade Center. Each climber carrying a picture and story of a life lost.

The Clayton Fire Department hosted the 4th annual 9-11 memorial climb at the Pierre Laclede building. . People from all over signed up to climb 110 stories, some wearing 70 pounds of gear to simulate what firefighters were carrying that fateful day.

Two firefighters flew in from New York to help out.

The climb is known as one of the largest in the country, and organizers expect to raise more than $50,000 for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

More on KTVI story


Photo by Maryland Heights Fire Protection District

September 12, 2015

MARYLAND HEIGHTS, MO. - Maryland Height's swift water rescue techs launch the newly acquired boat resource, donated by Firehouse Subs, to make a water rescue at Creve Coeur Lake.

A father and son were rescued from the water after they capsized their sailboat and were in distress. Beyond cold water exposure, no injuries were reported.

More Headlines for Maryland Heights Fire


Photo by KMOV

September 11, 2015 - KMOV

ST. LOUIS, MO. - An ambulance was stolen from outside of St. Anthony's Hospital in South County Friday.

Police said someone drove off with the Kirkwood Fire Department ambulance around noon on Friday. A suspect was taken into custody near the area of Butler Hill and Kerth when a homeowner arrived home and noticed the ambulance was parked in their driveway.

An officer who responded to the home noticed a shattered rear window and a K9 was used to find the 36-year-old suspect in an upstairs bedroom. The suspect's name has not been released.

No other information was released.

More on KMOV story

More Headlines for Kirkwood Fire


Bernard Scott was hospitalized for about three weeks following an incarceration at Pine Lawn jail in September 2014. Officers said he used a shoelace to try to hang himself in his cell.

September 10, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Jeremy Kohler

When a paramedic from Northeast Fire Protection District went to the Pine Lawn jail last September to check out an inmate with abdominal pain and bleeding, he told police officers and jailers the inmate needed to go the emergency room, according to his report.

The paramedic wrote that a police officer had started paperwork for the release and the inmate had changed into his street clothes to get ready to board the ambulance. But then a police supervisor canceled the release. The inmate, Bernard Scott, 44, who was being held in lieu of $360 bail for traffic cases, was ordered to change back into his jumpsuit and led back to a holding cell.

Before leaving the station, the paramedic tried one more time.

"PD again advised by EMS that pt should be transferred to ED for further medical attention," his report said. But the answer was still no.

Just 14 minutes later, the jail had to call another ambulance. Now Scott was unconscious, his muscles stiff. He was aggressive, difficult to pin down and his posture indicated possible brain damage, an EMT's report said.

Police officers disclosed five minutes after the second ambulance arrived that they had found Scott hanging by his neck from a shoelace tied to his cell door.

The details of the response at the jail were revealed in public records obtained by the Post-Dispatch this week through a Sunshine Law request. The incident is another example of dysfunction in St. Louis County's small jails and police departments. Unlike about 30 other states, Missouri has no jail standards or state authority to force improvements. And there is no tracking of jail suicides or suicide attempts.

Scott survived. In an interview on Thursday, Scott said he was in a coma for more than 11 days and hospitalized almost three weeks. He said he doesn't remember trying to hang himself and doesn't think he would do that.

"Why would I hang myself?" he asked. "I was in on traffic tickets."

The incident in scandal-plagued Pine Lawn led to an internal review that went nowhere. Police officers and jail workers submitted statements that contradicted each other and the paramedic's report. An examination of available public records by a Post-Dispatch reporter found no documented effort to sort out discrepancies.

The man in charge of the police and jail at the time was Anthony Gray, an attorney and longtime Pine Lawn official who was then the public safety director and is now the municipal prosecutor. At the time, Gray was in the high-profile role of helping represent the family of Michael Brown in the immediate aftermath of his shooting by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson - an incident that put a spotlight on problems in many municipal courts and police departments in St. Louis County.

Gray, who is also the lawyer for the Northeast Fire Protection District, did not return a phone call but wrote in an email that he had been out of town at the time of Scott's attempted suicide. In an email, Gray said he delegated the investigation to a sergeant, and the investigative material was sent to city attorney Donnell Smith. "No further action was taken that I am aware of," Gray wrote.

Gray's choice to handle the investigation, Sgt. Willie Epps, was as close to the case as can be. According to the paramedic's report, it was Epps who blocked the transport.

Several police officers and jailers submitted statements to Epps. But records show the stories often did not match:

- Pine Lawn Police Cpl. C.K. Harmon said the paramedic indicated there was "no substantial risk" and "no immediate life-threatening conditions." However, the paramedic, Matthew Pay, said he found a 2-inch circular mass on Scott's lower abdomen that was causing him pain. His report said he advised the police twice that Scott needed to go to the emergency room, but that Epps "stated pt does not need to be transferred and advised staff to discontinue paper work."

- Corrections officer Angela Henderson wrote in a report that there was no bloodstain, although a photo in the file showed a bloodstain the size of a quarter. She also said it was the paramedic who "found no reason" to take Scott to the hospital.

- Epps wrote that he wasn't even present. He said he left the station for 10 minutes while the paramedic was evaluating Scott and returned to find the ambulance had gone.

"What I wrote is what happened," Epps said Thursday.

Asked about the discrepancy, Gray wrote, "Epps provided an explanation for everything he did or did not do. I don't recall the specifics. But judgment calls were made and the wisdom behind them were given due deference."

Scott said he remembered that the first ambulance driver "wanted to take me with him, but the guy wouldn't let me leave." After the ambulance left, he said, a police officer "told me he wasn't going to let me out of jail unless I bonded out."

He said he was led to a phone and tried to call a cousin and an aunt to get them to post bail. He said that's the last thing he remembers.

The incident occurred in Pine Lawn, a north St. Louis County community whose mayor at the time, Sylvester Caldwell, was extorting bribes from a towing company, and whose police commander, Steven Blakeney, is facing charges of assaults and false arrest. The city is exploring shutting down its police department and handing policing over to the St. Louis County Police Department.

Pine Lawn was holding Scott on unpaid tickets from 2004 and 2005 for displaying an expired insurance card, driving with a suspended license, violating a stop sign and a red signal and failing to stop for an emergency vehicle. If he made bail in Pine Lawn, he almost certainly would have been transferred to Maplewood or Pagedale, where he also had arrest warrants.

Northeast Fire Chief Quinten Randolph said there have been at least six times in the past few years when municipal jails within his fire district refused to release prisoners after paramedics recommended taking them to a hospital. But he said the problem has gotten better after he has discussed it with area police officials. He said he could not immediately provide more specifics.

Last week, Scott violated his probation in an unrelated theft case; he is incarcerated at the St. Louis County Jail.

More on St. Louis Post Dispatch story

Comments on this article


Residents used a placard to register their opposition to Councilman Stephen Kraft at the Sept. 8 University City Council meeting.

September 8, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Steve Giegerich

UNIVERSITY CITY, MO. - The controversy over a contract to turn emergency medical transit over to a private ambulance service took another turn Tuesday when critics of the measure announced a petition drive had been mounted to remove Mayor Shelley Welsch from office.

The announcement prompted sustained applause from a City Council audience composed almost entirely of residents opposed to an agreement that shifted medical transit from University City firefighter/paramedics to crews employed by Gateway Ambulance Service.

Welsch, on the dais, remained impassive.

Council members approved the Gateway contract last month in a 5-2 vote that capped a contentious four-hour meeting at which officials drew fire for a decision opponents claim was made without regard for public sentiment.

Gateway placed two ambulances on round-the-clock University City duty last week.

"It was painful to watch as council members thumbed their noses at the citizens," resident Bart Stewart told the council Tuesday evening.

University City United, the grass-roots organization behind the petition to recall Welsch, is also targeting Councilman Stephen Kraft.

An organizer for the group, Jeff Hales, said Tuesday that the number of signatures on the Kraft petition now exceeded the first ward council member's vote total in the 2014 election. Hales was bested by Kraft in that contest.

Kraft helped draft the legislation that handed University City ambulance service over to Gateway on Sept. 1.

A physician, Kraft maintains residents will be better served by Gateway personnel working 12-hour shifts than by city firefighter/paramedics working 48-hour shifts.

Kraft and other advocates say outsourcing will allow the city to trim a minimum of $500,000 from its annual expenditure for emergency medical transit.

The city will not pay Gateway directly. Rather, Gateway will receive ambulance transit fees now collected by the city.

Officials say the move to Gateway Ambulance will not cost any city firefighters their jobs.

The city, however, will probably not replace the next 10 to 12 fire personnel who leave because of retirement or for other jobs.

Founded in St. Louis, Gateway is now owned by a corporation based in Louisville, Ky.

The union representing fire fighters has filed a petition asking a St. Louis County Circuit Court judge to nullify the Gateway pact. The hearing is scheduled for Oct. 5.

The recall petition for Welsch was not unexpected.

"That's fine, let 'em," the mayor said last month when word surfaced that opponents might attempt to oust her.

Hales said University City United hopes to place a recall of Welsch and Kraft before voters on the April 2016 municipal ballot.

Meanwhile one of the two council members opposing the Gateway contract last night introduced legislation to amend the agreement.

The amendment from Councilman Terry Crow asks that Gateway be subjected to strict insurance requirements, staff each of its ambulances with two paramedics and notify the city in advance of rate hikes.

More on St. Louis Post Dispatch story

More Headlines for University City Fire

Comments on this article


(left photo) Promoted to Fire Chief was Ankeneth Corbin. (right photo) Promoted to Assistant Chief was Roger Ellison

September 8, 2015 - Black Jack Fire Protection District

BLACK JACK, MO. - A ceremony was held at headquarters for promotions and the hiring of 4 new Firefighter/Paramedics. Promoted to Fire Chief was Ankeneth Corbin. Promoted to Assistant Chief was Roger Ellison. Dave Schmidt and Tom Torminio were promoted to Battalion Chief. Mike Scott and Phil Torminio are new Captains. Our newest Firefighter/Paramedics are Kentral Williams, Aaron Hammond, Scott Keeven, and Luke Andert.

Congratulations to everyone!More Headlines for Black Jack Fire


September 8, 2015 - by Monarch Firefighters and Paramedics - IAFF Local 2665

Many firefighters and paramedics in St. Louis County's Monarch Fire Protection District spent Labor Day Weekend collecting donations for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) and preparing for a Memorial Stair Climb to raise money for families of firefighters who died at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Monarch firefighters and paramedics who could not participate in those charitable activities because they were on duty Labor Day Weekend responded to dozens of urgent calls for emergency medical assistance and fire suppression, working often in perilous situations to save lives and property.

Few citizens know the extent of community service, volunteerism and charitable fund-raising activities that Monarch firefighters and paramedics - and those in other fire service districts - embrace as part of their commitment to community service whether on duty or off duty.

That's because the brave men and women who risk their lives as first responders don't raise money and volunteer their time for any recognition - they simply do it to help other people.

Charitable Commitments

Monarch firefighters and paramedics are members of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 2665, which serves much of St. Louis County, Missouri. In addition to putting their lives at risk as first responders, they manage the Monarch Firefighters Community Outreach Fund, a not-for-profit charitable organization inspired by a mission to help people and families who have suffered injury, illness, or disability.

In recent years, Monarch firefighters and paramedics have donated thousands of hours of their off-duty time to raise tens of thousands of dollars to support many non-profit organizations and worthy causes. These include the Backstoppers, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and Multiple Sclerosis Society, plus local breast cancer awareness and support programs; Honor Flights which pay tributes to military veterans; the Wings of Hope poverty intervention and medical care programs; and many more, including the Wounded Warriors Project.

This charitable tradition dates to IAFF origins in 1918 in Washington, D.C., and IAFF's St. Louis County origins in 1934 when firefighters joined what was then known as Local 398. In 1978, Local 2665 was chartered to serve St. Louis County communities as the "Professional Fire Fighters of St. Louis County."

In addition to far-reaching charitable support, Monarch firefighters and paramedics participate in Federal Emergency Services Task Force programs when floods, tornadoes and other natural disasters threaten people across Missouri and elsewhere. For example, soon after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, Monarch firefighters and paramedics were on the scene rescuing flood victims and aiding in the region's recovery. Monarch firefighters also were on the scene after the Joplin tornado and the World Trade Center disasters.

"We recognize that many difficulties arise as a result of tragedies that occur every day in our community and other regions," asserts Brent Coleman, Captain at the Monarch Fire Protection District and IAFF Local 2665 Shop Steward.

"We try to do whatever we can to help improve the lives of people we serve, and we support organizations and relationships that we believe make our community great."

"We consider this a commitment as first responders and as human beings. Some people call us heroes, yet we are not. We are hard-working men and women who happen to work in a dangerous, high-risk occupation with families and responsibilities outside the workplace, Many professions share that description, yet our relationships with our community and local residents sets us apart. Each of us chose this profession so we can help people."

On Sunday September 13, Captain Coleman and a team of Monarch firefighter/paramedics will participate in the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb by climbing the equivalent of 110 stories in the Pierre Laclede Tower II in Clayton, Missouri. Wearing full gear, each team member will honor a New York City firefighter who died in the World Trade Center terrorist attack. This fundraising event supports the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, which assists surviving families and co-workers of firefighters killed in the line of duty, including the 343 firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice on September 11, 2001.

To financially support this effort by Monarch Firefighters Community Outreach, visit the website HERE.

Right to Work

A few days after the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb, Missouri lawmakers in Jefferson City will meet in a special anti-veto session to try to override Governor Jay Nixon's veto of controversial "Right to Work" legislation.

The bill that Nixon vetoed prohibits union membership as a condition of employment. The original bill passed in May after Republican leadership applied a rarely-used tactic to end debate on the matter. Nixon, a Democrat, vetoed the bill in June, calling it a threat to Missouri workers and wages.

In his four-page veto notice, Nixon said the bill would neuter unions, lead to lower wages and ultimately produce a less-skilled workforce by denying people training opportunities provided by labor organizations. "The 'right to work' moniker is a misnomer," Nixon wrote. "'Right to work' laws create a less skilled workforce, drive down wages and directly interfere with a business owner's right to contract."

Training opportunities available to local firefighters for the benefit of the community by the IAFF, Local 2665 and the Monarch Shop are precisely the type that Nixon referred to. IAFF sponsors hazardous materials and weapons of mass destruction training in addition to fire ground survival and code enforcement education. Local 2665 and the Monarch Shop provide frequent opportunities for firefighters to enhance their leadership skills, along with health and wellness programs and sponsorships for seminars and national conferences.

The Right to Work bill, Nixon said, is "wrong for workers, wrong for business owners and wrong for Missouri." Your local firefighters and paramedics concur.

It is well-documented that the anti-veto effort and related lobbying to reinstate the original bill is supported by national Republican political action committees and out-of-state corporate interests, as well as wealthy conservative businessmen.

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that "right to work" laws reduce income for working people. "Right to work" states have lower rates of health insurance coverage, plus higher poverty and infant mortality rates. Data indicate that "right to work" laws hurt public education by lowering funding on a per-pupil basis. And "right to work" laws are proven to be unsafe for working people - the rate of workplace deaths is 54.4 percent higher in states with these laws, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

At Monarch, union membership is not a condition of employment - Local 2665 is an "open shop." Qualified firefighter/paramedics can be hired whether they join IAFF Local 2665 or not, though all are expected to pay their fair share to administer the Local's contract with the District, which "Right to Work" would prohibit. To date, no Monarch firefighter/paramedic has chosen to not join the union.

To learn more about Monarch Firefighters and Paramedics, visit their website HERE.

More Letters to the Editor


Lifesavers: Robin Harris, president of the Monarch Fire Protection District board, presents awards to (from left) Kaleigh Kelso, Victoria Helfert, Hannah Johnson and Jennifer Barake.

September 2, 2015 - West Newsmagazine

The Monarch Fire Protection District has recognized three lifeguards and a nurse who came to the aid of a toddler at the Chesterfield Family Aquatic Center.

During an emotional ceremony which Monarch Board Chairman Robin Harris admitted made him "choke up," lifeguards Hannah Johnson and Kaleigh Kelso, of Chesterfield, and Victoria Helfert, of Ballwin, along with nurse Jennifer Barake, of Chesterfield, received "Tip of the Helmet" awards for their actions in pulling a 3-year-old boy from the pool and administering CPR until Monarch paramedics arrived.

The youngster was spotted in obvious distress while playing in the pool during the late afternoon of July 14.

According to Nick Harper, Monarch deputy chief, the boy's condition improved rapidly, thanks to the quick help he received from the lifeguards and nurse. During the subsequent ambulance trip to the hospital, Harper added, the youngster let everyone in the vehicle know he didn't like it when paramedics administered an IV.

"And you know," Harper said with a smile, "that's what we love to hear."

At the hospital, the boy was sitting up and watching cartoons, Harper noted.

Monarch also recognized Crissy Withrow from Midwest Pool Management, the firm that manages the pool operation.

More on West Newsmagazine story

More Headlines for Monarch Fire


Photo by KTVI

September 7, 2015 - KTVI

BRIDGETON, MO. - The Olive Garden said thank-you Monday to first responders in Bridgeton. Members of the restaurant's Bridgeton location bought lunch for the Pattonville Fire Protection District and Bridgeton Police Department.

Thanking first responders on Labor Day has become a tradition for Olive Garden restaurants nationwide over the past 14 years.

More on KTVI story

More Headlines for Pattonville Fire



Photo by Call News

September 7, 2015 - KMOV By Christina Santiago

NORTH ST. LOUIS, MO. - KMOV photographer Steve Gurley found a car on fire at the corner of Stratford and Industrial Drive early Monday morning.

Fire crews arrived on the scene shortly after Gurley started shooting video, and worked to extinguish the flames.

News 4 is looking into the incident and will add more details to this story as they're confirmed.

More on KMOV story

More Headlines for St. Louis Fire


Last week, three of Levi Griffin's children watched their home burn - while their father was trapped inside.

September 5, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch PJ Randhawa, KSDK

SPANISH LAKE, MO. - Last week, three of Levi Griffin's children watched their home burn - while their father was trapped inside.

The 34-year-old father was trapped in the basement while a fire burned through his home. Three of his children and his mother got out.

The four children: Alyssa, 9, Levi Jr., 7, and twins Antoine and Antonio, 5, also lost everything they own. Now, they're asking for help from the community.

"For 5-year-olds to see the flames, that was a pretty big deal for them. I still don't think they get it, or understand it. Any of them," Natasha Neal, Griffin's cousin, said.

A stroke had made it difficult for Levi to walk in recent years, and despite his mother's attempts to rescue him from the burning home, he couldn't make it through the smoke.

"She just thought when she went back in to get him, he was behind her. He did get out of the bed, but he didn't make it," Neal said.

But his eldest daughter, Alyssa, still talks about a doting father.

"He was very caring, very caring. And loving. He would make us breakfast and take us outside to play," Alyssa said.

On the eve of Levi's funeral, the family says they're trying to explain and comfort his four young children who've lost it all.

"Everything was burnt you know. From clothes, toys, books. They just went back to school so a lot of their uniforms.... everything was destroyed," said Neal.

And the challenges may be just beginning. Too young to comprehend what's happened, it is unknown how or when the kids will realize their father is gone.

"[The twins] have a birthday coming up on Monday. They'll be six on Monday. I just ask that you pray for all of us," Neal said.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the children rebuild their lives and home.

More on St. Louis Post Dispatch story

More Headlines for Spanish Lake Fire


September 1, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch


Capt. Andre Straubhaar received a Class IV Medal of Bravery award for work as part of Missouri Task Force One at severe flooding conditions in Colorado in 2013.


Battalion Chief Jeff Counts, Capt. Phil Lopez and firefighters Michael Dedert, Timothy Gieseler and Jedadiah Starr received a Class VI Unit Citation Award for the rescue of a person trapped in a trench in Brentwood in 2014.

Lopez was awarded the Class IV Medal of Bravery and Counts a Class VII Certificate of Merit for their efforts.


Acting Capt. Joel Rydberg, Engineer Tom Smoot and firefighter Ryan Haake received a Class VI Unit Citation Award for their rescue of a trapped occupant in a residential fire in 2014.

Rydberg and Haake were awarded the Class III Bronze Medal for their efforts.


Acting Battalion Chief John Hampton, Acting Capt. Kenneth Zeilmann, Engineer Doug Patrick and firefighters Chad Forgue, Anthony James and Nicholas Lodes received a Class VI Unit Citation Award for the rescue of a trapped occupant in a residential fire in 2014.

Zeilmann, Forgue, James and Lodes were awarded the Class III Bronze Medal for their efforts.

Also, the Ferguson Fire Department was awarded a Class VI Unit Citation Award for its efforts during the civil unrest that followed the Aug. 9, 2014, killing of Michael Brown.


Capts. Rob Daus and Mark Stillpass, firefighter/medics Jan Riedisser, Jim Shankle, Chris Kirchhofer, Rob Handley and Greg Meyer, and firefighters Larry Winkler, Dale Schroeder and Doug Drysdale were awarded a Class VI Unit Citation Award for an ice rescue on Creve Coeur Lake in 2014.

Schroeder was awarded the Class III Bronze Medal for his efforts. Also, Assistant Chief Steve Rinehart and firefighter/medics Matt Gough and Chris Williams were awarded a Class IV Medal of Bravery for actions during a Missouri Task Force One deployment at severe flooding in Colorado in 2013.


Capt. Steve Spiegel, Acting Capts. Bob Rauss and Rodney Bland, firefighter/medics Peter Kaiser, Laurie Taylor, Mark Barnhart, Matt Begley, Chad Davis and Kenny Kries, and firefighter Dave Fine were awarded a Class VI Unit Citation Award for an ice rescue on Creve Coeur Lake in 2014.

Barnhart was awarded the Class III Bronze Medal for his efforts.


Firefighter/medic Kelly Pettus was awarded a Class IV Medal of Bravery for actions during a Missouri Task Force One deployment at severe flooding in Colorado in 2013.


Capt. Mike Digman was awarded a Class IV Medal of Bravery for actions during a Missouri Task Force One deployment for severe flooding in Colorado in 2013.


Battalion Chief Phil Boling, Capt. Albert Calmese and firefighter/medics Darcy Kneer, Aisha Ewing, Jacob Halsey and Mike Hollingsworth were awarded a Class VI Unit Citation Award for the rescue of a trapped occupant at a vehicle accident in Normandy in 2014.


Capt. Brian Bailey and firefighters Mark Stewart, Elijah Clark and Kyle Himebaugh were awarded a Class VI Unit Citation Award for the rescue of a trapped occupant at a vehicle accident in Normandy in 2014.


Chief Steve Rosenthal, Capt. John Hampton and firefighters Henry Ballard, Tony Bommarito and Tony James were awarded a Class VI Unit Citation Award for the rescue of a trapped occupant at a vehicle accident in Normandy in 2014.


Firefighter/medics Brian Strubberg and Jeff Buchheit were awarded a Class IV Medal of Bravery for actions during a Missouri Task Force One deployment for severe flooding at Colorado in 2013.


Acting Capt. Steve Brockman, Capt. Kevin Wallace and firefighters Neal Gaston, Sean Culleton, Nathan Davis, John Kramer, Bob Rump and Nick Robben were awarded a Class VI Unit Citation Award for the rescue of a person from River Des Peres in 2013.

More on St. Louis Post Dispatch story


Capt. Mario Montero, (left), and Firefighter Thomas Moore, of the St. Louis Fire Department, stand after receivng commendations on Tuesday, July, 25, 2015, during a ceremony at the department's headquarters. Montero and Moore talked a distraught woman down from a high tension power line about 130 feet above the waters of the Mississippi River. Photo by Christian Gooden, cgooden@post-dispatch

September 2, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Jack Suntrup

ST, LOUIS, MO. - It takes a special kind of bravery and commitment to climb up a power line tower more than 100 feet in the air and stay there for hours to try to convince a distraught woman not to jump.

Capt. Mario Montero and firefighter Thomas Moore of the St. Louis Fire Department said their education and practice had prepared them for this kind of call.

"Everything you go through - it just makes it smoother," Moore said. "We train for things like this."

On the night of Dec. 8, 2014, the crew of Engine House 1 was dispatched to a call about someone planning to jump off the Eads Bridge. Firefighters launched two boats into the Mississippi River, and units were sent out on the ground.

Then Battalion Chief Robert Shy told the crew the person wasn't on the bridge. She was on a steel tower on the Illinois side that carries high-tension lines at least 130 feet above the water.

The two firefighters climbed up the tower and encountered a woman, 21, who was hardly happy to see them.

"She didn't want anything to do with anybody getting near her," Moore, 50, recalled.

Montero, 49, remembered being told: "Don't come near me. I hate men."

"Then we kind of knew what we were dealing with," he added.

The firefighters reasoned with her, trying to calm her down, in a place many people would be terrified to be.

"We train for things like this. We train to get comfortable at heights," Moore explained. He said he also applied his knowledge as a paramedic. "You know how to deal with people. You know how to talk to strangers."

He added, "You know, you're trying to be like a friend of theirs and be on their level so you understand what they're going through."

Montero said the woman feared that if she agreed to come down she would be swept off to jail. A crisis negotiator relayed the message that she would not. Montero and Moore handed her a phone, and she spoke with family members.

Three hours after the fire department arrived, the woman - who was wearing a T-shirt on a December night - agreed to put on a harness and climb down the tower.

Halfway down, she changed her mind. But she was flanked by Montero and Moore, who blocked her from going back up. On the ground, she was handed over to waiting paramedics. Moore and Montero don't know what happened after that; their part of the job was done.

For their acts, the two were among eight members of the St. Louis Fire Department to be awarded Firehouse Magazine's 2014 National Heroism Award on July 21 at department headquarters.

"That's kind of just what we do," Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson said at the ceremony. "Read some of these write-ups, on what we do every day - it's amazing what firefighters, EMS, members of the fire department do."

Montero and Moore share the same thinking, saying that if they hadn't climbed up the tower to talk the woman down, someone else in their department would have.

"We're always trying to look out for the people we serve and provide them the best possible care that we can give them," Montero said.

Montero has been a paramedic and firefighter for 28 years, Moore has been a been a paramedic and firefighter for 25 years. He also served two combat tours of duty in Iraq with the Marines, as a medic.

"When your adrenaline's going, you forget about everything, you don't think about yourself, you just think about the situation," Moore said. "You're trying to focus. You're trying to focus on your job - what you're supposed to do."

More on St. Louis Post Dispatch story

More Headlines for St. Louis Fire

LOCAL 2665