CHESTERFIELD, MO. - The Monarch Fire Protection District board of directors has made some changes in the wake of the appointment of a new director to the three-member body.
In a realignment of officers, Rick Gans was named treasurer and Jane Cunningham will retain the position of secretary. Cunningham had temporarily held both the treasurer and secretary posts after Steve Swyers submitted his resignation last month.
At a meeting early this month, Cunningham and Robin Harris, the board's chairman, appointed Gans to complete the remainder of Swyers' term, which ends in 2017. Gans earlier served a number of years on the board.
The three-member board also agreed to appoint Gans as Monarch's representative on the Central County Emergency 911 board, a position he also held during his earlier Monarch board tenure. Cunningham, who had been serving on the CCE board, now will be the alternate.
May 22, 2015 - Metro West Fire Protection District
BALLWIN, MO. - Metro West announces the official promotion of Daniel Whatley to the rank of Lieutenant / Paramedic. Lieutenant Whatley took his oath and was pinned Tiesday evening at the Metro West Board Meeting.
FIRST RESPONDERS RECOGNIZED FOR JANUARY ICE RESCUE IN LAKE SAINT LOUIS
May 20, 2015 - 70 West Sentinel By: TAMARA DUNCAN
LAKE ST. LOUIS - The City of Lake Saint Louis honored first responders at a ceremony Monday at Veterans Memorial Park.
The event gave special recognition to the first responders who answered the call when three teenagers fell through the ice of Lake Sainte Louise on January 19. Through the effort of those men and women, the boys - including one who was completely submerged for almost 15 minutes - lived and recovered.
Police Chaplain Roy Christell, serving as master of ceremonies, mentioned that first responders have been under increased, critical scrutiny the past several months. "It's important to recognize excellence, dedication, and passion in those who serve," he said. "Maybe we should get into the habit of doing it - saying thank you."
Lake Saint Louis Chief Mike Force also addressed that subject. "What courage it takes to say 'these men and women do a great job for us.' Let's not overlook the things they do each and every day of their lives," he said.
Force said that the ice rescue was a "shining example of what happens we come together."
The following police officers, firefighters, dispatchers, EMS personnel, and civilians were honored:
Lake Saint Louis Police Department
Officer Ryan Hall
Officer Rick Frauenfelder
Detective Rebecca Hurwitz
Detective Sgt. Bret Carbray
Dispatcher Sheri Tullock
Dispatcher Denise Roberts
Lake Saint Louis Fire Department
Captain Justin Darnell
Firefighter Mike Terranova
Engineer Joe Morrow
Wentzville Fire Department
Chief Mike Marlo
Battalion Chief Joe Hutson
Captain Max Mueller
Firefighter Scott Dee
Firefighter Tommy Shine
St. Charles County Ambulance District
EMS Battalion Chief Jeremy Hollrah
Paramedic Ashley Pease
Paramedic Blake Gabbard
Paramedic Rosalba Cirami
Paramedic Robert Reed
Paramedic Lisa Cassidy
Paramedic Greg Pendleton
St. Charles County Department of Dispatch and Alarm
Supervisor Andrea Burke
Dispatcher Debbie Kasperski
Dispatcher Brian Grimes
Dispatcher Kerri Marlo
Chief Chris Fay of the Lake Saint Louis Fire Department also recognized two Community Association staffers who witnessed the incident and assisted the first responders. Jamie Rieger, the sister of one of the victims, was recognized for placing the 911 call. "These are not trained professionals," Chief Fay said, "But they were calm and professional ...."
Asked to speak to the gathered first responders, the mother of one of the boys summed it up. "Thank you .... thank you for my son's life."
ST. CLAIR FIRE CHIEF RESIGNS TO BECOME CHIEF OF OPERATIONS AT MONARCH FIRE DISTRICT
May 18, 2015 - e.missourian.com By Keith E. Domke St. Clair Missourian Editor
ST. CLAIR FIRE DISTRICT NEEDS CHIEF - Les Crews, who had been on the job only since January 2014, resigned effective Friday. He is returning to one of his old stomping grounds at the Monarch Fire Department in Chesterfield.
"The offer was the right thing for me to do at this point," Crews told The Missourian. "It also was the right thing for my family."
At Monarch, Crews will be the deputy chief of operations. He previously worked there from 1979-2011. He began his duties here on Jan. 6, 2014.
"It's been a very rewarding experience here," the 57-year-old Crews said. "I've gotten to work with a lot of great people in St. Clair. It's tough to walk away."
ROBERTSON - The Robertson Fire Protection District is accepting applications for the position of Paramedic/Firefighter.
Qualifications and requirement packet must be picked up from District Headquarters at 12641 Missouri Bottom Road, Hazelwood, MO. 63042 beginning May 18, 2015 through May 27, 2015 between 9:00am and 3:00pm Monday -Thursday.
Completed packet must be turned in no later than 3:00pm on May 28, 2015. Robertson Fire Protection District is an Equal Opportunity Employer
MAN RESCUED FROM BURNING HOME IN ST. JOHN
May 17, 2015 - KMOV By Dan Greenwald, Online News Producer
ST. JOHN - St. John police said one of their officers rescued a man from a burning home Sunday morning.
Authorities said the fire broke out on a home in the 3300 block of McKibbon. Police said the fire started in the kitchen and smoke then spread to the rest of the house. Authorities said a police officer was on the scene within seconds after 911 was dialed because that officer was in the neighborhood on another call.
"As the officer approached the front door, he encountered a man directly inside who was disoriented from the smoke. The smoke detectors were sounding and the man knew to call 911 even though he was disoriented," said Sgt. Matthew Barthelmass with St. John Police.
Police said the man, who is in his 50s, was treated and released from hospital; he is expected to be okay. Family members told News 4 the man's dog was in the basement, but made it out of the house and is also expected to be okay.
"I'm grateful about everybody's life, nobody was injured. They came in no time to save the dog and my uncle's life. It really hurts to have the house catch fire, but as long as no one was hurt, that's all I'm grateful for," said Erin Harris, the nephew of the rescued man.
TV REPORTER NAMED COMMUNITY LIAISON OFFICER FOR FIRE DISTRICT
Photo by St. Louis Post Dispatch
April 15, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Joe Holleman
KSDK loses another on-air reporter; Sara Dayley leaving -
Time to wave good-bye to KSDK (Channel 5) reporter Sara Dayley, who will leave the station next week.
Dayley said her last day will be Wednesday, and then she will become the community liaison officer (spokesperson, in civilian-speak) with the West County EMS & Fire.
"Growing up in St. Louis, working at KSDK was something I've always wanted to do and I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to be around some of the best in the business," Dayley said.
"I won't miss the 1:30 alarm," she concluded, "but I will miss waking up with everyone in the mornings and being invited into their homes."
Dayley, who joined KSDK in 2010, is a Marquette High grad and daughter of former Cards pitcher Ken Dayley. Before that, Dayley covered numerous motor sports events across the continent, including IHRA drag racing.
MEHLVILLE - The Kiwanis Club of South County recently honored Jake Lickteig of the Mehlville Fire Protection District for the outstanding performance of his duties and service to the community. Besides serving as a paramedic/firefighter, Lickteig conducts classes on safe-driving practices in the evenings. Among the class topics are not texting while driving, seat-belt awareness and the dangers of driving while drinking.
Pictured, from left, are: Assistant Chief Dan LaFata, Capt. Steve Bladdick, Lickteig, Deputy Chief Kent Snelson and Brian Hadler.
LAKE SAINT LOUIS TO HONOR FIRST RESPONDERS MONDAY, MAY 18
May 12, 2015 - 70 West Sentinel By: TAMARA DUNCAN
LAKE ST. LOUIS - Lake Saint Louis will honor first responders with a ceremony on Monday, May 18. The event, which starts at 4 p.m., will be held at Veterans Memorial Park on Civic Center Drive.
The ceremony will start with an invocation by Police Chaplain Ken McDonald and a welcome by Lake Saint Louis Mayor Kathy Schweikert.
Awards will be presented by Chief Mike Force of the Lake Saint Louis Police Department, Chief Chris Fay of the Lake Saint Louis Fire Department, Chief Mike Marlo of the Wentzville Fire Department, St. Charles County Dispatch and Alarm Director Jeff Smith and St. Charles County Ambulance District Chief Taz Meyer.
Special recognition will be given to the first responders whose quick actions saved the lives of three young boys after an icy water rescue in Lake Sainte Louise on January 19.
The ceremony will finish with a proclamation read by Mayor Schweikert to recognize the work that first responders do and the difference they make in the community. A benediction from Police Chaplain Bob Thompson will end the ceremony.
The public is encouraged to attend to show their appreciation for the work of the community's first responders.
ONE DEAD, 20 RESCUED IN 2- ALARM APARTMENT FIRE IN CENTRAL WEST END
May 11, 2015 - KTVI BY DANIELLE SCRUGGS
ST. LOUIS - One person has died and 20 people were rescued after a two- alarm fire swept through a Central West End apartment building. The fire started shortly after 8a.m. at the building located in the 4900 block of McPherson Avenue. Fire crews initially received a call for a fire on the second floor with one person trapped. The first crew on the scene asked for a second alarm due to the size of the building, which holds 50 apartments. According to Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson, all units were occupied at the time. Those 20 residents were rescued from the third floor. The chief says they could not escape from the second floor due to the heavy smoke in the building.
Six people have been transported to an area hospital for treatment. One person is listed in serious condition.
Fire officials are not calling the fire suspicious.
FOX 2 will keep you updated as details become avaialble.
ST. CHARLES - Family, friends and colleagues said goodbye Friday to Orchard Farm Firefighter, Larry Lawhorn, who died Sunday while responding to a fire. A parade of first responders escorted Lawhorn to his final resting place. Baue Funeral Home in St. Charles was completely surrounded by fire trucks, making it hard to see the building.
Lawhorn, 60, died Sunday after suffering a medical emergency while racing to a fire in Portage Des Sioux. The buzz of a medical helicopter circling in tribute harmonized with the plaintive sound of bagpipes as the casket carrying the his body was gently lifted onto an Orchard Farm fire truck for one last ride.
Driving a fire truck was Larry's favorite thing to do according to his friends. Plenty of them were on hand Friday to tell that story.
Firefighters and police officers from at least 30 departments brought about 40 pieces of equipment to escort the body from the funeral home to the cemetery
Orchard Farm Fire Chief Jeremey Horrrah said, "It's an amazing showing. It is something that is unfortunately to see but a blessing to see as well." He went on to say, "We have a huge support group in our system and that`s what makes everybody come back tomorrow."
In his eulogy, Chief Hollrah noted that volunteer firefighters often last only five years. Larry Lawhorn had done it for 35 years.
That he died behind the wheel of the department's new tanker is particularly symbolic.
"About two years ago we developed a committee to design a new tanker truck and he actually sat on that committee. He was one of eight members to help design it so it was very fitting that he would have passed in that apparatus."
Speakers at the funeral remembered Lawhorn as a man who loved helping others and having a good time. He enjoyed four wheeling and country music, rock 'n roll, and Dodge trucks.
On the streets of St. Charles, flags were flying at half staff by order of the Governor.
Many residents were also on the streets to watch and salute Larry Lawhorn's dedication.
SCCAD personnel learn and practice the pit crew protocol (image courtesy SCCAD)
May 7, 2015 - EMS1.com
ST. PETERS, MO. - St. Charles County Ambulance District (SCCAD) paramedics - and other first responders in the county - have begun utilizing a pit crew approach as the cornerstone of their completely redefined cardiac arrest protocols.
"Pit crew refers to the fact that everyone on the scene has a very specific, well-defined role, and the model accommodates whichever responders arrive on-scene first," said SCCAD Deputy Chief Medical Officer John Romeo.
The revised protocols - collectively referred to as cardio-cerebral resuscitation (CCR) - begin with six minutes of high-quality, minimally-interrupted chest compressions, and focus on a streamlined, back-to-basics approach. Paramedics and firefighters are training on the new protocols and will put them into practice very soon.
The CCR protocols have seen tremendous success in EMS agencies in other places. SCCAD is the first agency in the St. Louis region to debut this distinctive model of cardiac arrest management. Locally, the initial results are encouraging - a crew who trained on the protocols early put the steps into practice on a recent call, and the patient survived and went home from the hospital.
The roll-out of CCR coincides with SCCAD's purchase of the Zoll X-Series cardiac monitor/defibrillators for each of the 32 ambulances in the district. The monitors offer the ability for paramedics to see underlying heart rhythms without pausing chest compressions during CPR and wirelessly transmit patient data to receiving hospitals so doctors and nurses can prepare accordingly. A real-time CPR feedback feature measures rate, depth and effectiveness of compressions.
Photo by Florissant Valley Fire Protection District
May 7, 2015 - Florissant Valley Fire Protection District
FLORISSANT, MO. - Captain Lee Schuler is retiring today after 37 years of service and protection to our community. Thanks for all your hard work and dedication throughout the years. You will truly be missed.
GOVERNOR ORDERS FLAGS FLOWN AT HALF-STAFF FOR FALLEN FIREFIGHTER
May 7, 2015 -
JEFFERSON CITY, MO. - By order of the Governor, all flags at all State and government offices will be flown at half-staff, in the St. Charles County only, on Friday, May 8, 2015, from sunrise until sunset in honor of Firefighter Larry W. Lawhorn who died in the line of duty.
LONGTIME CENTRAL COUNTY 911 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR TO RETIRE IN FALL
Photo - Michael Turner
May 5, 2015 - West Newsmagazine By: Jim Erickson
ST. LOUIS COUNTY - Michael (Mike) Turner, whose 38-year career with the Central County Emergency 911 dispatch center includes 24 years as its executive director, will retire Oct. 1.
That announcement was made by the dispatch operation through Tim Flora, chairman of its board of directors.
"Mike has successfully steered this important public safety organization into the 21st century, both in technology and operations, with a steady hand," Flora said in the announcement.The Ellisville-based center answers 911 calls and dispatches fire and emergency medical personnel from the fire and EMS entities it serves. Recent consolidation moves involving similar operations in north and south St. Louis County have greatly enlarged the number of first responder agencies whose calls are handled by Central County.
Turner will continue working full-time through September, Flora noted.
A longtime West County resident, Turner, 60, began his career with Central County in 1977 as a dispatcher. He rose through the ranks and was appointed executive director in 1991.
During his tenure as head of the dispatch center, he led the organization through a number of major changes and leading edge technology moves that included being the first in the region to have computer-aided dispatching capabilities, mapping technology to locate 911 callers in need of help and being able to route the closest available emergency personnel to reduce response times.
Turner also oversaw the design and construction of Central County's current facility on Weis Avenue in Ellisville.
"I've had the good fortune to work with outstanding elected officials and fire and EMS chiefs through the St. Louis region during my career," Turner said, noting that the most important members of his operation are "the dispatchers who answer the public's call for help 24/7." "The public can rest at night knowing that help will be there when they call," he continued. "I will miss working with the tremendous team we have built (here) .... but I am also looking forward to another chapter in my life."
Turner and his wife, Nancy, have a daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren.
Although there have been rumblings of a possible merger of the Ellisville operation with the new St. Louis County Emergency Communications facility in Ohlendorf West Park, Flora said the Central County board is moving ahead on the basis that it will remain a separate entity. To that end, it will begin a search for Turner's successor immediately.
MONARCH FIRE DISTRICT APPOINTS NEW DIRECTOR TO FIRE BOARD
May 5, 2015 -
CHESTERFIELD, MO. - The Monarch Fire Protection District has announced in a press release that they have filled the vacant position on the Board of Directors, created by the resignation of Mr. Steven Swyers.
The following is the press release issued on May 1, 2015 by the Fire District:
Chesterfield, MO. - The Monarch Fire Protection District Board of Directors voted to appoint Mr. Rick Gans to fill the vacancy created on April 20 when Steven Swyers resigned from the Board. The unanimous vote to bring Mr. Gans back to serve on the Board was held at an Open Meeting this morning.
Board President Robin Harris, who served with Mr. Gans for two years, from 2009 to 2011 said, "We are fortunate to be able to appoint a man who contributed so much to the District and its residents during his more than 13 years of service. His expertise in virtually all areas of the District's operations will be a great benefit to Director Cunningham and to me. We look forward to working together as we continue to move the District forward."
Rick Gans first served on the Monarch Board in early 1998 when it was still the Chesterfield Fire Protection District. He was elected to two subsequent terms in 1999 and 2005, serving as Treasurer, Secretary and, for his final four years, as Board President. Mr. Gans served as the Monarch representative to the Central County Emergency 911 Dispatch Board and was instrumental in relocating that agency to the modern, present-day facility that now serves as the dispatch agency for virtually all of St. Louis County fire and EMS services. He was involved in future planning at Monarch that saw the reconfiguration of station locations creating the current emergency response times that are among the fastest in the St. Louis area.
Mr. Gans has lived in the Monarch Fire Protection District for about 30 years and his business has been located there for nearly 15 of those years. Mr. Gans holds the distinction of being the longest serving Director in the history of the District and his leadership style has earned him the respect of Directors and Chiefs from across the St. Louis area. Gans said, "I am humbled to be asked to return to an elected position that meant so much to me for many years and I pledge to work harder than ever to improve the District's public image and its relationship with our residents and business owners. I also look forward to re-establishing the important past relationships I had with the firefighters and paramedics of Monarch."
Mr. Rick Gans will join the Board effective immediately.
ATTORNEYS IN KINLOCH, NORTHEAST FIRE PROTECTION CONTROVERSIES ARE THREATENED WITH ARREST
April 30, 2015 - St. Louis Business Journal By Jacob KirnDigital Producer- St. Louis Business Journal
Elbert Walton Jr. and James Robinson know high-profile controversies well.
Walton, the former attorney for the Northeast Ambulance and Fire Protection District, was ousted from that role in 2009 and accused of mismanaging taxpayer funds. Prior to that, he was publicly reprimanded by the Missouri Supreme Court for a February 2001 incident in which he leaned across a judge's bench and "waved his hand in a threatening manner inches in front of the judge's face," according to a summary on the court's website.
Robinson, city attorney for North County municipality Kinloch, refused this month to allow the mayor-elect for that town of 300 to enter City Hall.
Now, the pair is being threatened with arrest by Judge Charles Rendlen III in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.
Rendlen on Wednesday issued a bench warrant ordering the arrest of Walton and Robinson if they do not pay a $52,206 bond by next Monday.
Last summer, Rendlen imposed sanctions on Robinson and his then-counsel Walton because they violated court rules.
Among the alleged violations, from a 101-page ruling: "They lied about the Judge in pleadings in an effort to obtain disqualification. They filed frivolous motions, took meritless legal positions, asserted waived objections, abused the judicial process and vexatiously litigated."
The U.S. District Court on March 31 affirmed the judgment, in which Robinson and Walton were ordered to pay $49,720.
Robinson's firm, Critique Services LLC at 3919 Washington Ave., on April 14 again appealed the judgment, this time to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. It's pending.
St. Louis firefighters take a worker to an ambulance on Sunday evening, May 3, 2015, after rescuing him from an 18-foot deep trench behind a house at Louisiana at Wyoming. The man was trapped for almost five hours when the trench he was digging collapsed and buried him up to his chest. Photo by J.B.Forbes, firstname.lastname@example.org
LONGTIME ORCHARD FARM FIREFIGHTER DIES ON WAY TO FIRE CALL
May 3, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Susan Weich
ST. CHARLES COUNTY, MO. - A longtime volunteer firefighter died early Sunday as he sped to the scene of a structure fire in Portage des Sioux, officials said.
Larry Lawhorn, 60, suffered a medical problem about 2 a.m., as he was headed northbound on Highway J. The tanker truck he was driving left the roadway and came to rest in a field. He was alone in the truck.
Lawhorn had been responding to a structure fire in the 1600 block of Second Street. No one was hurt in the blaze.
Lawhorn was discovered by other emergency responders as they left the fire call. Despite resuscitation efforts by firefighters and paramedics, Lawhorn did not survive. He later was pronounced dead on-scene.
"Line-of-duty deaths are difficult for any agency, but this hits particularly hard in a small, close-knit organization like ours," said Orchard Farm Fire Protection District Chief Jeremey Hollrah. "Larry was a hardworking, dedicated member of the fire district, and his loss will be mourned not only by his colleagues, but the community at large."
Lawhorn had a long career in fire protection, serving with St. Charles Fire Department prior to volunteering for Orchard Farm. Arrangements are pending with Baue Funeral Home in St. Charles.
FIREFIGHTERS BATTLE BLAZE AT ST. CHARLES COUNTY TATTOO PARLOR
April 30, 2015 - KTVI BY DANIELLE SCRUGGS
ST. LOUIS - Firefighters battled a blaze Thursday morning at tattoo parlor in St. Charles County. The fire started shortly before 4:15a.m. at Fine Line Body Art Tattoo located near the corner of Terra Lane at Bryan Road. Fire crews from three separate departments arrived to find the building engulfed in flames. According to Chief Tom Vineyard, the fire started in the rear of the shop and extended to the attic.
ST. LOUIS FIREFIGHTER DIED FROM INJURIES IN AUTO ACCIDENT
April 30, 2015 - St. Louis Fire Department
ST. LOUIS - It is with heavy hearts that we announce the loss of our Brother, Firefighter Charles Bates.
Yesterday, off-duty Firefighter Bates was involved in a serious rollover accident during evening rush hour. Despite rescue and resuscitation efforts, he succumbed to his injuries. Firefighter Bates was a 21-year member of the St. Louis Fire Department, currently assigned to Truck Company 22.
The Officers & Members of the Department mourn the loss of our Brother, and we extend our deepest condolences to Firefighter Bate's family. We will remember his humor, his compassion and his career of dedicated service to the citizens of St. Louis.
LADUE, MO. - The City of Ladue is seeking a collaborative and motivated leader who excels in fire service, personnel management and who enjoys interacting with residents, elected city officials and the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners.
The Fire Chief supervises and plans, organizes, directs and administers all operations of the Fire Department. Fire/EMS administration duties include personnel management, budget management, over sight of equipment and structures, public relations and compliance/enforcement of regulations, policies and procedures.
The position also oversees fire suppression management, fire investigations, fire prevention, hazardous material response, rescue and other emergency service operations. This position is a key member of the City management team.
The City of Ladue offers a competitive salary and benefits package. Salary is negotiable based on qualifications and experience. Reports to the Mayor, appointed by the Mayor with approval of the City Council.
Position will be open until filled. Send resume and cover letter to Mayor Nancy Spewak at email@example.com. View the full job posting at
KELLEY MILLER SEEKS APPOINTMENT TO VACANT SEAT ON MONARCH FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT BOARD OF DIRECTORS
April 28, 2015 - Chesterfield Patch By JMAYNE
CHESTERFIELD, MO. Miller notifies Board President Robin Harris, Secretary Jane Cunningham and Fire Chief Chuck Marsonette after resignation of Steve Swyers -
Kelley Miller, a human resources professional who campaigned for a position on the Monarch Fire Protection District Board of Directors in the April 7 election, wants to fill the seat left vacant by former Board Member Steve Swyers, who resigned abruptly from the board when Robin Harris was re-elected.
In certified letters mailed on April 27 to Harris, Board Secretary Jane Cunningham and Fire Chief Chuck Marsonette, Miller said, "As a constituent in the Monarch Fire Protection District, I am writing to request appointment to the vacant board seat. I am certain that my knowledge, skills, and experience combined with my strong interest in serving the district make me a top candidate for appointment."
Miller is a human resources professional with Missouri Baptist Medical Center and a single mother whose campaign literature says she is "a concerned citizen who got involved in the Monarch Fire District after seeing the fiscal mess Harris created during his tenure."
Before joining Missouri Baptist, Miller was Director of Human Resources at St. Louis Arc, a non-profit United Way agency that provides support and services to more than 3,000 adults and children with intellectual developmental disabilities throughout metro St. Louis. Miller has more than ten years of management experience dealing with non-profit boards of directors.
"Having recently participated in the election for the Monarch board, I have personally met with many residents and business owners in the district and have first-hand knowledge of the issues that are on their minds," Miller said.
"Professionally, I have the experience and skills to provide board expertise in hiring; strategic planning; policy development; and oversight. These are key contributions that I can offer; skills and experience I am confident will help make the board stronger," she said.
Board Member Steve Swyers resigned on April 20 after Harris was re-elected to another six-year term on the three-member Monarch board when Harris won a majority vote over Miller in her first-ever campaign for public office.
In his letter of resignation, Swyers said, "My decision to resign today is rooted in the falsehoods, half truths, misinformation, creation of an unhealthy work environment, and what I believe to be misuse of public funds by Monarch Board President Robin Harris and Board Secretary Jane Cunningham."
Of Harris and Cunningham, Swyers said, "I no longer wish to be associated with their business style and their political rhetoric, as it has only created an environment of distrust and negativity."
Photo by Florissant Valley Fire Protection District
April 28, 2015 - Florissant Valley Fire Protection District
FLORISSANT, MO. - On March 31st Florissant Valley Fire District had a grass fire that caught two structures on fire. If it wasn't for the quick actions of Austin, we could have also had a couple of houses on fire.
Today, Chief Scott Seppelt along with the crew of 4034, Captains Steve Votaw and Keith Beckham and Firefighter/Paramedic AJ Snow, presented Austin with an award at Hazelwood Northwest Middle School during their lunch hour. Great job Austin!
MANCHESTER, MO. - The first annual safe kids day festival was held in Manchester Sunday. Today was the opening of a new safety house by Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center in conjunction with West County EMS and Fire Protection District. Safety house is a state-of-the-art learning center and injury prevention initiative that provides classroom and hands-on education for children and their parents.
The facility also teaches pedestrian safety, bike safety, seasonal injury education as well as home and environmental safety tips.
ST. LOUIS COUNTY MAN ADMITS ATTEMPTED ARSON OF FERGUSON MARKET
Police released this image of a suspect wanted for setting fire to a Ferguson business on Nov. 24, 2014.
April 24, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Robert Patrick
ST. LOUIS - A man from St. Louis County pleaded guilty to a federal charge Friday and admitted trying to set fire to the Ferguson Market on Nov. 24, during looting sparked by the announcement of the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown killing.
Antonio Whiteside Jr., 26, admitted that he was in the market while it was being "looted," and that he used a lighter and an accelerant to start a fire. In court, Whiteside lawyer Rodney Holmes said that Whiteside used lighter fluid.
A woman eventually put out the fire and kept the market from burning down.
Holmes said that Whiteside was not a danger to the community and should be allowed to stay out on bond until his sentencing hearing, currently set for July 23.
Homes said Whiteside's only prior criminal case was a misdemeanor marijuana charge during college, for which he received a suspended imposition of sentence.
"It appears that he got caught up in the moment with the wrong group of people," Holmes said of Whiteside later in the hearing, "given the tension of the moment."
That brought a response from Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Mehan, who said that Holmes' statement shouldn't mitigate "setting fire in a looted building."
The market, at 9101 West Florissant Avenue, was looted amid protests over the grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson in the death of Brown. The Ferguson Market was where Brown allegedly committed a strong-armed robbery shortly before he was fatally shot by Wilson.
The plea says that the arson was caught on tape. In December, St. Louis County Police circulated a picture of a man squirting what appeared to be lighter fluid on the floor of the market.
Whiteside could face up to 10 years in prison for the crime of attempting to damage or destroy using fire, but Holmes estimated that Whiteside would face roughly three years under federal sentencing guidelines.
KIRKWOOD, MO. - Kirkwood Fire / Rescue would like to congragulate Firefighter-Paramedics Dan Fischer (left) and Matt Mathes (3rd from left) for the recognition award they received from the Kirkwood American Legion and Kirkwood Optimist Clubs. Dan and Matt, along with their crew, were instrumental in the recovery and treatment of a citizen stricken with a cardiac emergency while lost in a nature park last winter.
Pictured also are Kirkwood Mayor Art McDonnell and Fire Chief Tom Openlander. Good work fellas
DENTAL RECORDS USED TO IDENTIFY VICTIM OF WEBSTER GROVES HOUSE FIRE
Webster Groves firefighter Captain Martin McLaughlin looks over the scene of a fatal house fire in the 400 block of Greeley Avenue in Webster Groves on Thursday, April 9, 2015. Photo By David Carson, firstname.lastname@example.org
April 23, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Kim Bell
WEBSTER GROVES, MO. - Police on Thursday say dental records were used to identify the woman found dead in a house fire April 9. The cause of the fire hasn't been determined.
Webster Groves Police Lt. Andy Miller said the dental records were used to positively identify the victim as Anne Tkach. Hours after the fire, the Post-Dispatch reported that friends were mourning the death of Tkach, and her funeral was held Saturday. But in the two weeks since her death, Thursday was the first time police officially released her name.
Tkach, 48, was living with her father Peter Tkach, 79, who was injured in the fire.
Musician-singer Anne Tkach performed in many rock and folk groups, including Hazeldine, Magic City, Rough Shop, Ransom Note, Bad Folk and Nadine. She was part of the Nadine reunion taking part at Twangfest in June at Off Broadway.
The cause of the fire still is undetermined, said Fire Chief Mike Capriglione.
"It's still open, nothing new to report," he said Thursday. "There was never suspicion of foul play."
Capriglione said he still hasn't received the final report from the St. Louis County fire investigators. He said it wasn't unusual for investigations to take this long, and noted that those investigators were busy with other matters such as the bomb scare at St. Louis City Hall this week.
A lightning strike was one of the causes being considered. Anne Tkach was found dead in an upstairs bedroom. Firefighters rescued her father from the first floor.
LEGISLATION PASSED UNANIMOUSLY BY MISSOURI HOUSE AIMS TO BRING TAX DEDUCTIONS TO VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS
April 21, 2015 - KOAM 7 By Cailey Dougherty
MISSOURI - According to the US Fire Administration, more than 70 percent of state fire departments are volunteer.
Recently passed legislation by the Missouri House would benefit many volunteer firefighters in our area.
Chris Reeves is a volunteer firefighter at the Redings Mill Fire Department.
"You get a little taste of everything, whether it's going on a structure fire or a medical call, just helping people in general," Reeves said.
While he's passionate about helping others, it comes at a cost.
Fuel expenses and wear and tear on his vehicle are paid out of pocket with no reimbursement.
However, thanks to House Bill 444, that could soon change, authorizing a tax deduction for volunteer firefighters by next year.
"People would love to see something like that happen, knowing that there's somebody out there who cares about what they do," Reeves said.
Redings Mill fire officials say any financial assistance for the 10 to 25 volunteers that help each year, would keep response times low by helping those volunteers to afford covering the 110-mile district.
"Paying out of their own pocket for fuel, that sometimes makes it difficult for them to come out and help," said Ronnie Metcalf, assistant chief.
The amount of training hours determines the deduction amount.
Under the legislation, volunteers with 12 hours a year will be eligible for a $500 tax deduction, and those with 36 hours a year or more, will qualify for $1,000 in deductions.
With training on a weekly basis, the volunteer firefighters at Redings Mill well exceed the requirement for a thousand dollar deduction.
"It will help at the end of the year," Metcalf said. "I don't think financial gain is the motivating factor for our volunteers, but every little bit does help."
While a tax break would be nice, Reeves says ultimately, protecting area residents is worth every sacrifice.
"You can't put a price on helping people," he said.
The legislation goes to the state Senate on Friday.
CHANGES IN MONARCH FPD LEAVE DISTRICT WITH VACANCY
April 22, 2015 - West Newsmagazine By: Jim Erickson
CHESTERFIELD, MO. - In an almost festive atmosphere, the Monarch Fire Protection District Board of Directors met to swear in its recently re-elected board president, reorganize and accept without comment the resignation of one of its members.
The small board room to capacity on April 21, with most of those people clearly in support of Robin Harris (photo left), the board's president who on April 7 was re-elected for a six-year term after receiving almost 63 percent of the vote.
Rick Gans, a friend of Harris and a former Monarch director and board president, conducted the swearing in, after which there was a recess while audience members and the board ate cake and visited in the administration building vestibule.
When the meeting resumed, Harris was re-elected president and Cunningham was named to fill the positions of both secretary and treasurer in light of Monarch director and treasurer Steve Swyers' resignation the preceding day.
Swyers' resignation was dispensed with quickly before the swearing in. Harris noted simply the resignation had been received and, without comment, both he and director Jane Cunningham voted to accept it.
In the resignation letter sent to news media, Swyers was critical of a number of actions by Harris and Cunningham, accusing them of "false claims, misinformation, misuse of public funds and negativity" that were "counter-productive" for the district.
Cunningham earlier denied the allegations and defended statements and actions she and Harris had made. While Harris didn't respond to Swyers' criticisms at the April 21 meeting, he read a prepared statement noting: "The voters expressed their trust in me and their approval of my actions of the past six years."
The board president also repeated a view expressed during a board meeting immediately after the election when he called for everyone at Monarch to work together for the benefit of district residents.
Harris also challenged all Monarch employees to fulfill the oath they took when they joined the district and to do their best to return "a fair day of work for a fair wage. If you want something else, the change needed to move Monarch forward will not be made," he asserted.
Harris later said he and Cunningham would discuss how to deal with the vacant board position during a closed session. The board can appoint someone to fill Swyers' unexpired term, which ends in 2017, or can operate with just two directors until the next election.
WEST COUNTY EMS/FPD BOARD BACK UP TO FULL STRENGTH
April 21, 2015 - West Newsmagazine
ST. LOUIS COUNTY - For the first time in almost a year, the West County EMS and Fire Protection District Board of Directors is back at full strength.
The board achieved that status at its April 20 meeting when David Cobb (left) and Matt Miller took the oath of office, joining Robert Levine on the three-member governing body. Charles Billings, West County's legal counsel, administered the oath in front of a small group of West County personnel and other onlookers.
Both Cobb and Miller ran for the two seats up for election in voting this month and, because they faced no opposition, the board opted not to go to the expense of having their names placed on the ballot. After the April 7 election, both men were certified as the winners.
West County had been operating with just two directors since last June when then-chairman Richard "Rick" Rognan unexpectedly resigned after serving 15 years on the board. The law permits a fire district board to appoint someone to fill a vacancy but also says the two directors making such an appointment must be elected.
Cobb was appointed by the board in 2013 to fill the position formerly held by Miller who had resigned when he took a new job as principal of Wren Hollow Elementary School in the Parkway School District.
As a result, the remaining alternatives were to ask the Circuit Court to make an appointment or operate with a two-member board until the next election. Cobb and Levine opted for the latter, with Cobb taking over as chairman and Levine serving as both secretary and treasurer.When the filing period for the April 7 election opened several months ago, Miller submitted his candidacy for the four years remaining on Rognan's term while Cobb sought election to his first six-year term.
In the board reorganization that followed the swearing in, Cobb was re-elected chairman while Levine and Miller were named secretary and treasurer, respectively.
In other action resulting from the election earlier this month, the board officially received certification of the passage of Proposition F, which asked voter approval to raise the district's operating fund tax levy by 30 cents per $100 assessed valuation. The measure passed with some 52.7 percent of the ballots cast in favor of it.
UNIVERSITY CITY, MISSOURI. - University City firefighters and city administrators announced April 13 they had reached agreement on a new three-year collective bargaining agreement through March 2018.
The council granted City Manager Lehman Walker the authority to execute the agreement, which Walker said had already been ratified by the firefighter's trade union, Professional Fire Fighters of Eastern Missouri, International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2665.
"At the end, I think both parties reached an agreement they are happy with," said Kurt Becker, union district vice president.
The union and the city have in recent years been at loggerheads over contract negotiations and personnel matters. The union had, in 2013, filed suit against the council and other city officials, and alleged that they failed to negotiate in good faith regarding a possible new city firefighter contract. The suit was dismissed. The union was said to be behind last year's failed candidacies of three city council and one mayoral candidates.
ST. CHARLES COUNTY - Central County firefighters responded to the 100 block of Birch Leaf Drive today for a house fire. First arriving crews found fire blowing out the front of the home. Fortunately no one was home at the time of the fire which caused over $100,000 in damage.
Cottleville Fire Protection District and St. Charles County Ambulance District assisted.
April 21, 2015 - Information provided by Metro West Fire Protection District
ST. LOUIS COUNTY - This past week has brought many changes at the Metro West Fire Protection District. Last week, the Board of Directors accepted the retirement for Chief of Fire & EMS Services, Vince Loyal who retired after 36 years of service.
G. Michael Krause (photo) (a lifelong West St. Louis County resident) was appointed by the Board of Directors to fill the vacancy effective immediately. The subsequent command staff changes will be announced later this week. "As we move into the next generation of leadership the primary focus, goals, and strategy for service delivery that Metro West has been successfully providing for many years will not change. He will be charged with focusing on all areas of our service delivery, all of which are critical. I have all the confidence in Chief Krause's abilities and believe that he will far exceed our expectations" said Chairman of the Board of Directors Tim Flora.
G. Michael Krause, was born and raised in Ballwin, attended Holy Infant Catholic School and is a graduate of Lafayette High School. He is well prepared for the position. He is a Fire, Rescue & EMS Instructor. He holds many certifications and has hundreds of hours of training in administration, management, leadership and tactical operations. Chief Krause has an education based approach and places a high emphasis on training and skills. He is a graduate of the National Fire Academy, & Texas A&M University attending specific training to become a highly qualified incident commander for large-scale catastrophic disaster response.
Chief Krause is a fourth generation firefighter. He started at Metro West in 1990. Since then, he has served as a Firefighter / Paramedic, Engineer, Lieutenant, Captain, Battalion Training Officer, Battalion Chief, and most recently as the Deputy Chief of Operations & Training. "Creating the best opportunities for our staff to excel in service delivery to the community that we serve, developing a safety focused environment through our leaders, all the while embracing & leveraging all areas of our organization will remain my primary vision as the Chief of Fire & EMS Services. I am continually amazed at the talents that we have at Metro West and will work with all divisions who together provide the community with outstanding services" said Chief Krause after his appointment.
April 21, 2015 - West Newsmagazine By: Jim Erickson
ST. LOUIS COUNTY - Steve Swyers, as of April 20, has announced that he is resigning his position of director on the Monarch Fire Protection District board of directors.
In an email, Swyers said his decision to step down "is rooted in the falsehoods, half truths, misinformation, creation of an unhealthy work environment, and what I believe to be the misuse of public funds by Monarch Board President Robin Harris and Board Secretary Jane Cunningham."
What Swyers described as "the last straw" was an advertisement, placed by Monarch Fire Chief Chuck Marsonette in West Newsmagazine, that "berated Monarch Firefighters and paramedics."
Over a picture of Marsonette and his signature, the ad claimed "a small number of the members of the union representing the Monarch firefighters and paramedics have been flooding social media outlets with false, misleading and inaccurate information about the Monarch Fire Protection District as part of a campaign to get their candidate of choice elected to the Board of Directors."
The ad went on to say that Monarch has one of the newest fleets of fire trucks in the area, that its ambulances and medical equipment have the latest technology, that training and other gear for firefighter/paramedics "is (sic) "top of the line" and that "Monarch is well prepared to keep us all safe from harm."
Both the ad and a quarterly newsletter that Swyers termed "a campaign promotion for Robin Harris" came out during the week before the April 7 election in which Harris was running for re-election against Kelley Miller. Harris won with some 62 percent of the vote.
Contacted about Swyers' resignation, Cunningham defended the newsletter and ad. The newsletter has been issued on a quarterly basis for some time and the ad was necessary to respond to accusations by the union, she said, adding the legality of running the ad had been checked with the district's legal counsel before it appeared.
Cunningham said comments in ad and newsletter were not directed at firefighter-paramedics but at union leadership.
The content of the newsletter included a lengthy rebuttal of alleged union criticisms, among them the district's financial position and its state of readiness, and another in a series of articles headlined "Promises made, promises kept" detailing steps taken by the board on a number of issues such as workers' compensation claims, having a balanced budget and acquisition of new equipment without having to increase taxes. Tornado preparedness was the subject of another article, and a decision by the Missouri Human Rights Commission rejecting a union complaint against Asst. Chief Cary Spiegel was reviewed briefly.
Swyers said he had no involvement in the newsletter's content and preparation. "I no longer wish to be associated with their (Harris and Cunningham) business style and their political rhetoric as it has only created an environment of district and negativity," Swyers said in his resignation email.
Cunningham noted that recent vehicle acquisitions the district has made have been via lease-purchase arrangements that Swyers recommended as a way to obtain the new equipment without having a tax increase.
Harris was out of town and could not immediately be reached for comment.
The Monarch board is scheduled to meet at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 21, but it is unclear whether there will be any follow up on Swyers' resignation. The board has the authority to appoint a replacement who would serve until the next election or it can leave the position vacant until that time.
Swyers was elected to a six-year term on the Monarch board in 2011 and his term expires in 2017. He is the retired managing partner of the local operation of the Pricewaterhouse Coopers accounting firm.
SWYERS RESIGNS FROM MONARCH FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT BOARD OF DIRECTORS
April 20, 2015 - Chesterfield Patch
By Steve Swyers, Chesterfield, Missouri - Effective immediately, I resign as a member of the Monarch Fire Protection District Board of Directors, a position to which I was elected in April 2011.
My decision to resign today is rooted in the falsehoods, half truths, misinformation, creation of an unhealthy work environment, and what I believe to be misuse of public funds by Monarch Board President Robin Harris and Board Secretary Jane Cunningham.
For these reasons, I have considered resigning from the Board for more than a year. Recently, I read the Monarch district newsletter distributed by U.S. mail on April 3, 2015. It was essentially a campaign promotion for Robin Harris, who was running for re-election to the Board in the April 7 election. That same day I read a newspaper advertisement placed by Monarch Fire Chief Chuck Marsonette that berated Monarch firefighters and paramedics. It was the last straw.
I had no hand in preparing these communications as a member of the Board. I heard Robin Harris admit on KMOX Radio that the newsletter cost taxpayers $20,000. Later, I learned that the newspaper advertisement cost nearly $1,900. This is just wrong!
I no longer wish to be associated with their business style and their political rhetoric, as it has only created an environment of distrust and negativity.
For example, in print and website communications paid for with taxpayer dollars, Harris and Cunningham lied to or spoke half truths to Monarch citizens by claiming that Monarch firefighters and paramedics are calling for a $33 million bond issue.
As a member of the Monarch Board since April 2011 until my resignation today, I can assert with assurance that this claim is false. There is no movement for a $33 million bond issue by the firefighters or anybody else at Monarch -- and there never was such a movement in my Board tenure.
Harris also said, "The Monarch budget is balanced, as required by state law. We...are maintaining a 40 percent reserve."
That statement does not represent all the facts. It is correct that budgets must be balanced, but when expenses exceed revenues a budget is balanced by making "budget adjustments," which means borrowing from reserves created by prior generations of taxpayers.
Since 2012 the Monarch Board has tapped reserves by $851,000, causing reserves to decline to their current level of 40 percent. This is not sustainable!
Harris also said that Monarch firefighters and paramedics are:
- "Already among the highest paid in the country"
- "(Filed lawsuits) in an attempt to control the operations" and that "The District has been successful in most cases"
- "Use tactics to frighten people"
Those statements by Mr. Harris are simply not true.
Harris' and Cunningham's falsehoods and constant degradation and ridicule of Monarch firefighters and paramedics are damaging morale. It is impossible to maintain trust in such an environment.
In my opinion, Harris and Cunningham are using Monarch firefighters and paramedics as reasons for all the problems that exist in the Monarch fire protection district. I believe that Harris and Cunningham need only to look in a mirror to see the root cause for many of the existing problems.
The environment of false claims, misinformation, misuse of public funds and negativity perpetuated by Harris and Cunningham throughout the fire department is counter-productive for the Monarch Fire Protection District.
RED CROSS, FIRE DEPARTMENTS TEAM UP FOR SMOKE ALARM INSTALLATION BLITZ
April 15, 2015 - KTVI BY ANDY BANKER
ST. LOUIS COUNTY - In the United States, an average of seven people a day die as a result of home fires. The Red Cross is working to change that with their Home Fire Preparedness Program, which wants to reduce fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent in five years.
To do this, they are partnering with local fire departments to install smoke alarms. The Red Cross will install them for free. You can call 314-516-2797 to make an installation appointment.
This weekend, the Red Cross is holding a smoke alarm installation blitz in north St. Louis County.
ARSON INVESTIGATORS PROBING NORTH ST. LOUIS COUNTY FIRE
April 16, 2015 - KMOV By Dan Greenwald
VINITA PARK - Firefighters said arson investigators are looking into the cause of a house fire that broke out in Vinita Park.
Authorities said a house caught on fire in 1700 block of Crystal Court Thursday afternoon. A neighbor captured the flames shooting through the home's roof on his cell phone.
"You just saw the smoke pouring out of the vents in the attack and we heard a little pop, nothing serious, like a baby explosion and then we saw the flames going up about 10 feet in the air," said neighbor Austin Ostroff.
Police said a man and woman were seen at the house shortly before the fire started. A man who recently moved in wasn't home at the time.
Authorities said they are searching for the man and woman. They were in a gray four-door Chevrolet pick-up with Illinois license plates.
ARSON GUTS NORTH COUNTY HOME, CLAIMING LIFE OF BELOVED RESCUE DOG
Greg Stinson and Nichole Torpea with Murphy in happier times.
April 16, 2015 - Daily RFT By Sarah Fenske
ST. LOUIS COUNTY - Greg Stinson and his fiancee, Nichole Torpea, were both at work on Monday (he at Ralston-Purina, she at a St. Charles garden center) when they began receiving frantic messages from a neighbor they barely knew. "Your house is on fire. You need to come home now!"
They rushed back to St. John, the north St. Louis County municipality where Stinson had bought a home in 2003. But it was already too late.
"At that point, everything that had been done was done," Stinson says.
The house was a burnt shell. Virtually all of their possessions had been destroyed. And their dog, a beloved lab mix rescue named Murphy, was dead.
Naturally, Stinson found himself questioning his actions that morning. "You think about tea kettles, and candles, or a curling iron, or that faulty electric cable -- all the things you should have fixed and never did."
Investigators on the scene quickly zeroed in on something else. They wanted to know how many gas cans had been in the garage, Stinson says. As it turns out, one can that had been newly filled was missing. Fire officials told Stinson and Torpea that they believe someone poured the fuel liberally throughout the house before it was set ablaze, Stinson says, making for a quick, and deadly, inferno.
(Reached by Daily RFT, Geoff Fish, assistant fire marshal for the Community Fire Protection District, could confirm only that the fire was suspicious in nature, and that it's under investigation. He also confirmed that Murphy had been killed.)
The fire was shocking for a number of reasons: The fact that it was set in broad daylight in a quiet neighborhood. The fact that neither Stinson nor Torpea could think of anyone who wished them harm. The utter pointlessness of it. They now believe either a thief or a kid intent on vandalism swiped their coin jar and rifled through their drawers, taking a few credit cards and some camera equipment before pouring the gas and lighting the fire. Far more valuable possessions were left to burn.
But what happened next, Stinson says, has been perhaps an even bigger shock than the arson.A coworker at Purina, Rick Swensen, put up a GoFundMe page, seeking donations to help the couple. Almost immediately, and with zero publicity beyond word of mouth, it blew up -- generating more than $27,000 in just 24 hours. Other colleagues and friends dropped everything to bring by supplies and household essentials.
"You see the level of generosity..." Stinson says. "It just kind of blew my mind." The last two days have been a roller coaster, he says. And yet, "We cried more over the love we felt from our friends than over all the crappy stuff that happened."
Swensen himself was shocked by how quickly the crowd-funding campaign took off. "My heart was just broken for him -- that dog was like family to them," he says. He initially thought the GoFundMe page could raise just a few thousand to help cover the basics before insurance kicked in.
He put it live in Tuesday morning. "Within an hour, we had $1,000. Before lunch, it was close to $10,000. I had to keep upping the goal because I didn't want people not to donate!"
The crowd-funding campaign initially took off thanks to his Purina colleagues, a close group. But another reason it found such massive success was the goodwill Stinson has generated within St. Louis' tight-knit music community. He's a member of the pop-punk band the Humanoids, as well as '90s cover band the VCRs, and his house has long been a haven for members of the scene. (Stinson also played with two bands along with RFT's music editor, Daniel Hill, Step On It! and Kill Me Kate.)
Ryan Wasoba, an RFT contributor who used to be a part of the rock band So Many Dynamos, recalls the house's central place in St. Louis' punk scene.
"It was a frequent place of lodging for out-of-town bands, and a makeshift studio when Greg's old band Step On It! made their record," Wasoba writes in an email. "So Many Dynamos used to practice in Greg's basement, and we wrote and rehearsed our When I Explode album in that house. I definitely think the energy of that environment made a big impact on the music we were writing at the time."
Murphy was a part of that. Adopted at three months old after he turned up at Stinsons' parents' house, "I took him home, where he proceeded to destroy most of our things and terrorize the touring bands who would stay after shows," Stinson recalls. Yet after a year, the pup became a docile, loving part of the family.
"His chill, couch-loving, bed-crashing demeanor brought so much love every single day," Stinson recalls. "Without a doubt he was our best pal."
Stinson and Torpea have been planning an October wedding, which might make the events of the last week just about the worst thing that could possibly happen, at the worst possible time.
But for now, Stinson is focused on the support they've received -- not all they've lost.He says,"The only thing that's on my mind right now is the positive stuff. You wish that everyone in the world could experience how many people love them, and how many people care.
"If everyone knew this love was all around them, even the guy who broke into our house -- even he wouldn't be like that anymore."
See the GoFundMe page set up to help Torpea and Stinson.
ST. LOUIS COUNTY - The Fenton Fire Protection District is currently seeking qualified applicants for the position of Fire Marshal.
Resumes must be submitted in person or by mail by 4:00 PM on May 1, 2015 to:
Fenton Fire Protection District 845 Gregory Lane Fenton, MO 63026
For more information including education and experience requirements, qualifications, salary, benefits, physical demands, environment, application, and selection process, an informational document is available for download as a PDF.
Questions regarding the position or process may be addressed to Deputy Chief Lou Hecht by phone (636-343-4188 x138) or by email (email@example.com).
METRO WEST FIRE CHIEF RETIRES
April 14, 2015 - KSDK By Brandie Piper
ST. LOUIS COUNTY - The chief of the Metro West Fire Protection District and EMS Services has officially retired after 36 years of service.
Vince Loyal, 57, served 12 years as the chief, and started his career with the district in 1978 as a firefighter/paramedic. He was appointed chief in 2003.
"I've had the good fortune to work with outstanding elected officials and the highly skilled fire officers and paramedics during my career. I think that what has made me successful as Chief is that I never lost sight of the fact that the most important members of our department are those that arrive in the middle of the night to answer the public's call for help. I am most proud or our outstanding safety and training record. I leave the District in very capable hands. Our ability to cultivate outstanding leadership internally is a testament to the quality people we've been able to attract to Metro West," said Loyal.
The district's board of directors has appointed Deputy Chief of Operations and Training G. Michael Krause to fill the position of chief.
ST. LOUIS 6-YEAR-OLD HONORED FOR 911 CALL THAT SAVED HIS DAD'S LIFE
Photo by St. Louis Post Dispatch
April 14, 2015 - KTVI BY PAUL SCHANKMAN
ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO. - At an age when kids are still working on their "A-B-C`s" one north county boy did something extraordinary because he knew the three numbers, 9-1-1. He got quite a surprise on his birthday and quite a present more than a month later.
It was a sixth birthday James Hagler Young and his dad will never forget. The Community Fire Protection District in North St. Louis County honored young James Young for saving his father`s life by having the composure to call 9-1-1 when the older James Young had a diabetic attack on March 2nd, his son`s 6th birthday.
"He was able to tell the dispatcher his address his telephone number all the imperative things he needed. He was able to recognize most importantly that his dad was in a crisis situation." said Capt. Keith Pigg of the Community Fire Protection Dist.
"Those situations are scary even for adults when their friend wife husband has an insulin reaction. He did everything like I taught him and I couldn't be more amazed or impressed, even though he is my son." said James Young.
Firefighters were so amazed and impressed the gave james a VIP tour and showered him with all the presents they could think of. They still could not think of enough accolades to offer James so they gave him one more. A new bike to replace one he is giving to a friend because James outgrew his.
No wonder his junior firefighter coat looks more like the cape of a superhero.
BALLWIN, MO. - A Ballwin family is forced out of their home in the middle of the night after fire engulfs part of their house.
"The firefighters upon their arrival, they had a heavy volume of fire on the exterior of the structure. It was certainly a major fire at that point," said Metro West Fire Protection District spokesperson Mike Thiemann about the fire at a ranch home on Holshire Way in Ballwin.
Firefighters from four departments rushed to the home when the call came in just after 2:00 a.m.
It took crews nearly a half hour to get the fire under control.
The flames did significant damage to the back of the home.
Investigators believe a hybrid car which was parked just outside the garage caused the fire.
Investigators say there was some sort of electrical problem in the charging system.
"Basically the electrical system always has current going through it whether it be static or not. Something happened to where it malfunctioned, caught the car on fire," said Thiemann.
Neighbors heard explosions; possibly from the tires, the airbag, or even the battery.
John Kemp heard them two blocks away.
"Turned on the TV, was watching TV and next thing I knew I heard a big boom. I thought my furnace blew up. And I got up, looked around, everything was fine, next thing I knew I heard another explosion," Kemp said.
Crews spent hours boarding up the home.
A man, his wife, and their two young daughters-ages three and five-were all inside when the fire started.
They all got out ok after the husband smelled smoke and the smoke alarms went off.
"The mother and father did an extraordinary job as parents getting the children out in a safe area. So we're very proud and happy that they're all safe," Thiemann said.
Authorities say the fire was purely accidental and there is nothing suspicious.
They also tell us they don't think the car problem that happened in this case is indicative of a larger issue with hybrid cars.
KIRKWOOD, MO. - Kirkwood Fire Rescue bids farewell and best of luck to our co-worker Rex "the boss" Franke who is retiring from the Fire Dept. to move his family back to the Philippines. Rex is starting a mission to help the poor and needy in his home country...a good man doing good work. We love ya brother, thank you for your years of service.
EX-ST. CHARLES COUNTY AMBULANCE OFFICIAL GETS SHOCK TIME FOR STEALING FROM URGENT CARE CENTER
April 15, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Susan Weich
ST. CHARLES COUNTY - A former county ambulance district official who prosecutors say took more than $500,000 from a private urgent care center was sentenced to 120 days shock time and must repay $150,000.
Kevin James Guerra, 46, pleaded guilty in December to taking money from Our Urgent Care, which has locations in Wentzville, St. Charles and Maryland Heights. Guerra had served as operations director of the business.
The sentence was handed down by Circuit Judge Jon Cunningham. Prosecutors had asked for Guerra to pay restitution of more than half a million dollars, but Cunningham said it was unrealistic to expect Guerra to pay back that amount in the five years he will be on probation.
Court documents say an audit commissioned by the company discovered the missing funds. The thefts occurred from 2008 to September 2013.
Guerra, of the 600 block of Ballantrae Drive in Wentzville, resigned from the ambulance board in October 2013. He had been elected to the nonpartisan part-time post in 2010.
(L to R) The Guns 'N Hoses Boxing Association donates $340,124 to The BackStoppers April 8, 2015. The donation, which represents the proceeds from the organization's 28th annual Budweiser Guns 'N Hoses boxing event held Jan. 30 at the Scottrade Center, was accepted by Chief Ron Battelle, Chief Dennis Jenkerson, David Stokes, Steve Holley, Jack Martorelli and Chief Jim Silvernail. (Courtesy of Byrne PR on behalf of Guns 'N Hoses)
April 9, 2015 - KMOX
ST. LOUIS - The Guns 'N Hoses Boxing Association made its annual donation to BackStoppers, a not-for-profit organization that assists families of first responders who die in the line of duty.
Guns 'N Hoses donated $340,124, which represents the proceeds from the organization's 28th annual Budweiser Guns 'N Hoses boxing event held Jan. 30 at the Scottrade Center.
"Once again, the St. Louis community has shown support for these families through their generous donations and participation in the event," said David Stokes, president of the Guns 'N Hoses Boxing Association, in a news release. "The January Guns 'N Hoses event was one of our most successful to date, and we hope this contribution will continue to make a difference in the lives of those families supported by The BackStoppers."
At the January Budweiser Guns 'N Hoses event, the blue team won a 9-7 team decision over the red team. For the first time, both teams comprised a mix of firefighters and police officers.
"This donation from Guns 'N Hoses helps The BackStoppers provide a financial safety net for the families of our fallen heroes," said Chief Ron Battelle, executive director of The BackStoppers, in the release. "Currently, The BackStoppers is supporting 66 families and 64 children who have lost loved ones. The need is always great and the community's support is always appreciated."
Budweiser Guns 'N Hoses is presented by the St. Louis Guns 'N Hoses Boxing Association, and the title sponsors for the 28th year were Budweiser and Grey Eagle Distributors, the Anheuser-Busch wholesaler in St. Louis County.
The BackStoppers cover St. Louis City, the Missouri counties of St. Louis, St. Charles, Cape Girardeau, Franklin, Jefferson, Lincoln, Perry, Pike, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Warren and Washington and the Illinois counties of Bond, Clinton, Madison, Monroe and St. Clair. The BackStoppers also cover members of Troop C of the Missouri Highway Patrol and District 11 of the Illinois State Police.
After a loss of life, The BackStoppers provide money for emergency expenses and later arranges to pay bills, mortgages, debts, college costs and other expenses. The organization was founded in 1959.
WEBSTER GROVES, MO. - One woman is dead and a man was injured during an early morning house fire in Webster Groves. The fire started around 6a.m. at a home located in the 400 block of Greeley Avenue. Our Nissan Rogue Runner was on the scene.
Authorities say the male victim has been transported to the hospital. His condition is unknown.
FIRE DISTRICTS APRIL 7th ELECTION RESULTS - ST. CHARLES COUNTY
ST. CHARLES COUNTY 04/07/2015 - GENERAL MUNICIPAL ELECTION CANDIDATES AND ISSUES
DIRECTOR - COTTLEVILLE COMMUNITY FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT VOTERS GUIDE INFORMATION
SEAT 1 -
KEN BROOKS - 1,773 - 50.90%
CATHERINE DREHER - 1,696 - 48.69%
WRITE-IN - 14 - 0.40%
DIRECTOR - LAKE SAINT LOUIS FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT VOTERS GUIDE INFORMATION
Vote For: 1 / 6 year term
DANIEL F. RYAN - 819 - 65.21%
RICHARD E. THURWACHTER - 429 - 34.16%
WRITE-IN - 8 - 0.64%
DIRECTOR - O'FALLON FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT VOTERS GUIDE INFORMATION
Vote For: 1 / 6 year term
MICHAEL (MIKE) BALLMANN - 2,793 - 34.32%
WILLIAM (BILL) LAUGHLIN - 5,311 - 65.26%
ARNIE AC DIENOFF Removed
WRITE-IN - 34 - 0.42%
PROPOSITION S - For the purpose of implementing the community created SAFE-T plan to acquire up-to-date firefighting and emergency vehicles, apparatus and auxiliary equipment, to acquire, construct, renovate, replace, improve, furnish and equip outdated fire stations and training facilities, including the purchase of land where necessary and to refinance prior obligations and agreements used to finance required improvements to facilities, shall the Central County Fire & Rescue, a Fire Protection District of St. Charles County, Missouri (CCFR), borrow money in the amount of Sixteen Million Dollars ($16,000,000.00), and issue general obligation bonds for the payment thereof?
The authorization of the general obligation bonds will authorize the levy and collection of an
annual tax in addition to the other taxes provided for by law on all taxable tangible property
in the District sufficient to pay the interest and principal of the Bonds as they fall due and to
retire the same within twenty years from the date thereof, but the debt service levy of the
District is expected to remain unchanged at the current levy of $0.0860 per one hundred
dollars assessed valuation of real and personal property.
YES - 5,072 - 68.16%
NO - 2,369 - 31.84%
FIRE DISTRICTS APRIL 7th ELECTION RESULTS - ST. LOUIS COUNTY
ST. LOUIS COUNTY 04/07/2015 - GENERAL MUNICIPAL ELECTION RESULTS
DIRECTOR - MARYLAND HEIGHTS FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT VOTERS GUIDE INFORMATION
Vote For: 1 / 6 year term
DAVID R. PENNING - 1,117 - 98.07%
WRITE-IN - 22 - 1.93%
DIRECTOR - METRO WEST FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT VOTERS GUIDE INFORMATION
Vote For: 1 / 6 year term
MARK MACINSKI - 3,886 - 59.46%
STEPHEN H. WARD - 2,604 - 39.84%
WRITE-IN - 46 - .70%
DIRECTOR - MONARCH FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT VOTERS GUIDE INFORMATION
Vote For: 1 / 6 year term
ROBIN HARRIS - 3,656 - 62.93%
KELLEY MILLER - 2,135 - 36.75%
WRITE-IN - 19 - .33%
DIRECTOR - PACIFIC FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT VOTERS GUIDE INFORMATION
Vote For: 1 / 6 year term
EDWIN A. BRUNS (ED) - 3 - 100.00%
JOHN DAVIS - 0
WRITE-IN - 0
DIRECTOR - RIVERVIEW FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT
(THIS ELECTION POSTPONED UNTIL AUGUST)
Vote For: 1 / 6 year term
PATRICK K. RUSSELL
THEO (TED) BROWN, SR.
DIRECTOR - ROBERTSON FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT VOTERS GUIDE INFORMATION
Vote For: 1 / 6 year term
JENNIFER PARKIN - 298 - 68.35%
MARK BRIGHT - 66 - 15.14%
DARRELL R. SMITH - 38 - 8.72%
LARRY TINKER - 33 - 7.57%
WRITE-IN - 1 - .23%
DIRECTOR - SPANISH LAKE FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT VOTERS GUIDE INFORMATION
Vote For: 1 / 6 year term
JOHN E. (JACK) GREEN - 628 - 61.03%
KHALIL ABDULMUMIN (MUMIN) - 399 - 38.78%
WRITE-IN - 2 - .19%
WEST COUNTY EMS AND FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT VOTERS GUIDE INFORMATION
SIMPLE MAJORITY REQUIRED
PROPOSITION F Shall the Board of Directors of the West County EMS and Fire Protection District be authorized to levy an additional tax of not more than thirty cents per one hundred dollars assessed valuation to support the general fund of the District?
YES - 1,554 - 52.59%
NO - 1,401 - 47.41%
MERAMEC AMBULANCE DISTRICT VOTERS GUIDE INFORMATION
SIMPLE MAJORITY REQUIRED
PROPOSITION E Meramec Ambulance District serves 244 square miles within Franklin, Jefferson and St. Louis counties by providing paramedic staffed ambulances that respond to the emergency medical needs of a growing and aging population. In order to prevent the possible
closure of District ambulance stations, significant reduction in staff, a decrease in the
number of available ambulances, and delays in response times to 911 calls, shall the
Board of Directors of Meramec Ambulance District be authorized to levy an additional
general tax, for the first time in 35 years, of not more than thirteen cents per one
hundred dollars assessed valuation, the revenues from which will be deposited into the
YES - 2 - 66.67%
NO - 1 - 33.33%
FIREHOUSE SUBS AWARDS $54,000.00 GRANT TO FIRE DISTRICT
April 7, 2015 - Maryland Heights Fire Protection District
Maryland Heights - Firehouse Subs has awarded the Maryland Heights Fire District a $54,000 grant that has been used to purchase specialized emergency equipment.
They will be hosting their grand opening tomorrow at 10 am. Please come by to view the new equipment and meet the owners who made this grant and area resource possible.
Editorial: ST. LOUIS COUNTY FIRE SERVICES SHOULD OPEN THE DOORS FOR MINORITY HIRES
Photo by St. Louis Post Dispatch
April 7, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By the Editorial Board
ST. LOUIS COUNTY - The skin color of a firefighter doesn't matter the way it does for a police officer.
Firefighters are not making judgment calls about who to stop, who to question and who to put in jail. Implicit biases aren't a factor in putting out fires.
Still, as post-Ferguson St. Louis confronts its long history of racial biases, it's a fact that there are too few African-American firefighters in St. Louis County relative to the county's 23 percent black population. These are good, high-paying (sometimes extremely high-paying) jobs that should be viable employment options for young black men and women.
Instead, some of the 42 fire protection districts and municipal fire departments in St. Louis County have requirements that make it tougher for blacks to get hired, as reported Sunday by the Post-Dispatch's Doug Moore.
Like so much of the rest of the fractured city-county government structure, there are too many fire services. They exist not because of need, but because of self-interest. They provide jobs and board memberships in many of the districts. Taxpayers are footing enormous bills for inefficiencies and duplication.
Ultimately, consolidation is the answer. Until then, fire departments and districts need to make greater efforts to recruit qualified minority candidates. They need to knock down unnecessary barriers that discourage prospective African-American firefighters.
Karen Aroesty, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, is particularly critical of a St. Louis County hiring requirement that forces veteran firefighters from other districts to go through retraining at the county's fire academy. This includes St. Louis city firefighters, many of whom fight more fires in a month than their suburban counterparts fight in a year. The city department is 39 percent African-American.
The requirement "reeks of structural racism," Ms. Aroesty said.
She was chairman of the St. Louis County Fire Standards Commission from 2010, when she was appointed by then-County Executive Charlie Dooley, until her resignation in December.
The seven-member commission was established 35 years ago to ensure that firefighters in the county are professionally trained, qualified and equipped to established standards. Its board of St. Louis County residents is appointed by the county executive.
Ms. Aroesty said she left the commission frustrated and discouraged because policies are in place that need to be changed but the political will to do so is missing.
"The fact is fire jobs are good jobs and the challenge is you have to make the effort to go find people," she said. Black firefighters need to be out in the community talking about the profession and showing minority candidates "that they will be respected and be successful in the job."
Mandatory attendance at the county fire academy is not the only hurdle for would-be African-American firefighters. Most departments require firefighters to be paramedics, which means additional training beyond the fire academy. The costs associated with such training can be prohibitive. Departments should pay for the training for all recruits.
Fire chiefs say there aren't enough qualified black applicants and that African-American firefighters are difficult to retain because they are often poached by departments and districts that offer better pay and benefits in communities that have fewer emergency calls.
The firefighters' unions - the International Association of Firefighters and the International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters - should be all over this employment issue.
Addington Stewart, regional leader of the black firefighters' union, is a retired St. Louis city fire captain. He told Mr. Moore that young African-Americans don't know much about fire service as a career because there hasn't been enough outreach. He was critical of district hiring practices and said the people looking for employees need to find more way to reach minorities.
William Pruitt is on the county fire commission and on the three-member board of the Mid-County Fire Protection District. The district serves communities with a majority of African-American residents, but only 22 percent of Mid-County's firefighters are black.
"This is just a bugaboo," Mr. Pruitt, who is African-American, said of the county districts' hiring practices. He said he wants to stay on the commission board and "hope that things are guided in the right direction."
Hope is not enough. Calling the problem a "bugaboo" minimizes it. Action is what's needed. Get rid of the discriminatory requirements and open up jobs for young black men and women. That's a step that can be taken now.
REPORT REVIEWS MONARCH'S PROGRESS ON WORKERS' COMPENSATION CLAIMS
April 7, 2015 - West Newsmagazine By: Jim Erickson
CHESTERFIELD - The Monarch Fire Protection District is headed in the right direction in managing workers' compensation claims and is on track to post another reduction in the insurance premiums it will pay in 2016 for that coverage.
Mike Hennessey from Smith McGehee Insurance Solutions made those conclusions at the Monarch Board of Directors meeting March 26, while presenting a report on the district's actions and its trends in workers' compensation claims. Smith McGehee represents Missouri Employers Mutual, which provides Monarch's workers' compensation insurance. The company has emphasized its commitment to working with Monarch to lower its number of workers' compensation claims, costs and insurance premiums.
Despite Hennessey's prediction that Monarch is heading in the right direction, he also emphasized that future reductions in workers' compensation insurance premiums depend on the district continuing its current positive trends in claim numbers and associated costs.Among those actions Hennessey cited as contributing to the trend were:
- Increased use of occupational medical or urgent care facilities, instead of hospital emergency rooms, to treat on-the-job injuries.
- Assignment of a nurse case manager to direct and manage care of injured employees.
- A requirement to report all claims within 24 hours after an injury occurs.
- An investigation of every injury accident to determine its basic cause.
- Formation of a safety committee to analyze injury accidents, call attention to their causes and determine steps to avoid future incidents.
- Post-accident drug and alcohol testing.
- Continuing an incentive-based safety program launched last fall, along with a workers' compensation safety manual.
Those various steps targeted what Hennessey described as "breakdowns in the process, rather than the process itself" for managing and dealing with workers' compensation claims. The net results of actions taken have included a 30 percent reduction in average claim cost during the period of January 2014 to March 26, 2015, compared with an earlier comparable period, as well as a 50 percent decline in the number of lost-time claims.
Based on current trends, Monarch should see a savings of $200,000-250,000 in its 2016 workers' compensation insurance premium, Hennessey said. The district's 2015 premium is $950,000.
CREWS RESCUE 3 PEOPLE AFTER CANOE CAPSIZES NEAR STAN MUSIAL BRIDGE
Photo by KMOV
April 4, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Adam McDonald, Online News Producer, KMOV
ST. LOUIS - Crews successfully rescued three people after their canoe capsized in the Mississippi River Saturday afternoon.
Officials with the St. Louis Fire Department said the canoe tipped just north of the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge. Units on the ground said they were able to see the overturned canoe from their position.
Three people were reportedly seen holding on to some sort of buoy or channel marker before responders rescued them. Multiple rescue boats were dispatched. No injuries were reported.
FIREFIGHTERS IN ST. LOUIS COUNTY DO NOT LOOK LIKE THOSE THEY ARE TRAINED TO PROTECT
Black Jack Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Roger Ellison (left) helps Pauline Pearson, 17, into a firefighter's coat, helmet and air pack during an organizational meeting for a new Explorer Post for teenagers interested in fire fighting careers Tuesday, March 31, 2015 at the district's house three in Florissant. Photo by Sid Hastings
April 4, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Doug Moore
ST. LOUIS COUNTY - In Hazelwood, none of the city's 36 firefighters is black although nearly a third of its residents are African-American.
In neighboring Ferguson, more than 67 percent of residents are black, compared with 7 percent of firefighters.
And in the Florissant Valley Fire Protection District, two of the 60 firefighters are black, representing 3.3 percent of the department. By comparison, more than a quarter of the residents who live in that part of the region are African-American.
The situation is the same throughout the parts of St. Louis County with large African-American populations. With the Justice Department fresh off an investigation here after Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, more cities are being scrutinized for their hiring practices amid criticism that minorities are systemically underrepresented in public employment.
Fire chiefs say that there are not enough qualified black applicants and that blacks hired are hard to retain, often recruited by other departments that offer better pay and benefits in communities with fewer emergency calls.
"Even when we are fortunate to hire a minority, we don't get to hold onto them for very long," Hazelwood Fire Chief Dave Radel said. He said part of the reason for a lack of blacks on his department came from having two fire protection districts that also serve parts of his city. It doesn't take long for firefighters on mutual aid calls to begin talking and find where the better salaries are, he said.
But one of those districts - Florissant Valley - is not faring much better.
The department recently received 70 qualified applicants to test for a hiring list that is likely to go into effect in May. Fire Chief Scott Seppelt recalled one or two African-Americans among them. After a series of tests, 10 applicants made the cut. All are white.
Seppelt said his department continued to look at ways to improve diversity. Like some other departments, Florissant Valley provides training for fire and EMT programs at North Technical High School, part of the Special School District. Successful students graduate from high school with community college credits.
"We really do want to see that applicant pool change. We are open to any way we can assist in doing that," Seppelt said.
Addington Stewart is the regional leader of the International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters, which works to encourage young African-Americans to consider the profession. Retirees with the association have for the past two months been offering free classes in test preparation for those wanting to become firefighters.
Later this year, the organization will offer tuition reimbursement to those who successfully complete emergency medical technician training.
Stewart, a retired St. Louis city fire captain, said young African-Americans didn't know much about fire service as a career because outreach had been poor. And those who are doing the hiring need to look at more ways to reach minorities. Often, job postings are made in a newspaper ad, the fire department's website or by word of mouth.
"We're not looking to blame anybody," Stewart said of the hiring practices he wants changed. "But to say they (minority applicants) are not out there is insulting to me."
Quinten Randolph agrees. He is fire chief of the Northeast Fire Protection District, which represents Normandy and parts or all of 17 other tiny communities. They range from Bel-Nor with a black population of 46.4 percent to Velda Village Hills, where 98.5 percent of its residents are African-American.
By comparison, 12 of the 30 firefighters in Northeast are black, or 40 percent.
"We as leaders can't sit back and say we can't find black firefighters. We are at the helm to change things to make fire districts look somewhat like those they serve," said Randolph, who is black. Once you build a culture of diversity in your department, then it becomes a place where people want to work, he said.
But Stewart, Randolph and those they criticize for not doing enough to change the fire department culture, all agree there are challenges that have to be addressed.
'A BIG BUGABOO'
Most departments now require firefighters to be paramedics, which means additional schooling beyond graduating from the fire academy. That can put the career out of grasp for those who can't afford community college. Poverty rates in Missouri are three times higher among blacks compared with whites. And it is required in all 42 fire districts and departments in St. Louis County that those hired must go through the county's fire academy. That includes veteran firefighters from other jurisdictions such as St. Louis, where 39 percent of firefighters are African-American.
Karen Aroesty, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, said the requirement "reeks of structural racism."
Aroesty served as chairman of the St. Louis County Fire Standards Commission until December, when she resigned. She was appointed to the commission in the fall of 2010 by then-County Executive Charlie Dooley. She said she grew frustrated by the system, log-jammed by policies that she could not get changed.
A few years ago she and other commission members were being introduced to a cadet class.
"One gentleman stood up and said: 'I'm an 11-year vet of the St. Louis City Fire Department.' I remember thinking: 'Why can't he just get hired?' It's awful he has to go through the county academy."
The commission, which has been in place for 35 years, is made up of seven St. Louis County residents who must, among other things, pledge that every firefighter working in the county "will be trained to established standards to ensure professional, quality, and uniformed firefighting and the safety and well-being of our citizens and firefighters."
Members are appointed by the county executive and confirmed by the County Council. Aroesty's resignation makes four vacancies on the board. A spokesman for St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger said those vacancies should be filled by the end of the month. A new executive director for the commission also should be in place by then.
William Pruitt is one of the remaining members of the commission. He also serves on the three-member board of the Mid-County Fire Protection District, where 22 percent of firefighters are black, serving communities where the majority of residents are African-American.
"This is just a big bugaboo," Pruitt said of hiring practices within the county. Pruitt, who is black, was hesitant to be critical of the current St. Louis County system and the required academy training.
"You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution," he said. "You can't do anything from the outside looking in. For the time being, I'd like to stay on the board and hope that things are guided in the right direction."
Aroesty is leaving the board discouraged.
"I will be honest - I did not succeed the way I hoped I would" on the commission, she said.
"Where is the political will to make these changes? The fact is fire jobs are good jobs and the challenge is you have to make the effort to go find people," she said. That includes black firefighters going out into the community to talk about their profession and instill confidence in minority candidates that "they will be respected and be successful in the job."
REFLECTING THE COMMUNITY
Stewart, with the black firefighters association, said he began looking at the racial makeup of fire departments long before Ferguson. But after Brown's shooting, he began to formally request information from the county's departments. Of the 21 departments that serve parts of St. Louis County where at least 10 percent of African-Americans live, 15 responded to Stewart's request. Among those supplying information was Ferguson, where two of 27 firefighters are African-American serving a city where more than two-thirds of residents are black.
"Diversity has always been, and continues to be, very important and beneficial to the city of Ferguson," city spokesman Jeff Small said in an email. He said the fire department had seen very little turnover the past few years.
The city last hired firefighters in 2012. Both hires were white men, based on records from Ferguson's human resources department.
In University City, 15 percent of the firefighters are African-American, compared with 41 percent of the community. City Manager Lehman Walker said efforts were ongoing to improve minority representation throughout city departments.
"When I came here in August 2010, we had two African-American firefighters. Now we have six," said Walker. "It's very important from a city point of view that our workforce in every department reflect the demographics of the community."
Part of that effort includes putting minorities in leadership positions. Walker, who is African-American, has six department heads who report to him. They include two black men, a black woman, an Asian woman and a white woman.
Other departments with a small percentage of African-Americans say they are working to improve their numbers but are finding it a challenge.
In the Black Jack Fire Protection District, for example, an Explorer post is being started through the Boy Scouts, where firefighters mentor young people ages 14 to 21 interested in the profession. Yet at an open house last week, just one of the eight participants was African-American.
Close to 20 percent of the Black Jack district's firefighters are black. By comparison, more than 81 percent of residents of Black Jack, which composes a big chunk of the district, are African-American.
Black Jack Fire Chief Mike Gantner said the key was getting to young people as early as possible to put firefighting on the radar as a profession. He is hopeful the Explorer program and continued visits from firefighters into classrooms will increase interest - and eventually qualified applicants.
Stewart's firefighter group has been holding Monday night sessions at the O'Fallon Park Rec Complex in north St. Louis since Feb. 2. More than 50 young people have stopped in. About 15 are regulars, he said.
At a class last month, 14 young African-Americans - 12 men and 2 women - went through a two-hour session of reading exercises from a manual used to help prospective firefighters prepare for exams. Gavin Alfred, 25, of University City was one of the more engaged students.
Alfred has a few years of college under his belt, but he had to stop taking classes to take care of family. He has held a series of jobs but is looking for a career. Firefighting seems a good fit, he said.
"It's a way to give back to the community," Alfred said. "There is nothing wrong with working alongside the law and helping those in need."
APPEALS COURT REJECTS EX-O'FALLON, MO., FIRE CHIEF'S BID FOR SEVERANCE PAY
April 3, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Mark Schlinkmann
O'FALLON, MO. - A Missouri Court of Appeals panel has rejected former Fire Chief Mike Ballmann's effort to require the O'Fallon Fire Protection District to give him $118,000 in severance pay.
The decision Tuesday, which upheld a ruling by St. Charles County Circuit Judge Ted House, was issued amid the final days of Ballmann's campaign for a seat on the board of directors of the district.
The ruling said the severance arrangement and those for another plaintiff were void because the district didn't authorize them by a formal board vote recorded in the official minutes. Also suing was Randy Sanders, a former division chief with the district.
"Other evidence of the board's discussion and approval cannot overcome this requirement," the three-judge appeals panel said.
Ballmann and Sanders had said the severance packages were referred to in other board minutes before the contracts were executed.
Neil Bruntrager, the fire district's attorney, said the board is pleased with the decision. "These things have to be open and transparent and they weren't," he said.
Steve Koslovsky, Ballmann and Sanders' attorney, said the two have filed another suit against the district in circuit court, seeking damages for the district's failure to properly document what was first agreed to by the board in 2004.
That was filed in November, a few months after Judge House had issued his ruling on the initial suit.
The district was negligent "by failing to supervise the board secretary to insure that she correctly recorded all official actions of the board," the new suit says.
Ballmann and Sanders were forced to resign last year, several months after they and three other district officials filed the suit to ensure they'd get severance pay if eventually fired in a cost-cutting move. The board had voted to terminate the contracts at the end of 2013.
They had been among 10 officers offered buyouts in the fall of 2013 in an effort to trim an organization that Bruntrager, the board attorney, says was too top-heavy.
Ballmann has claimed he was forced out by the firefighters union, Local 2665, in an effort to get officials more favorable to the union's positions.
The disputed contracts for Ballmann and Sanders would have qualified them for more separation pay than they would have gotten in the rejected buyouts. When they finally were ousted, they got no severance, Bruntrager and Ballmann said.
In next week's election, Ballmann is running against incumbent board member William Laughlin.
Laughlin has said it's absurd for someone suing the district to be running for the board that oversees it.
Ballmann says if he is elected, he won't take part in any board discussions on his pending suit. He also has filed a challenge of his ouster with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
MAN REMOVED FROM SCENE AFTER YELLING AT MO. FIREFIGHTERS
April 2, 2015 - Firehouse Magazine
CHESTERFIELD - A Chesterfield man yelled at firefighters and tried to block the roadway as crews were battling a house fire Tuesday.
Larry Hoffman blocked roadway access and interfered with Monarch Fire Protection firefighters during the Still House Creek Road house fire, Chesterfield Patch reports.
Hoffman, who is a critic of the firefighter's union, blocked the street and then videotaped firefighters as he yelled insults and profanities at the crews, according to a police report that was filed. Police told him to leave the scene and move his vehicle.
"It was totally inappropriate to interfere with emergency services and public safety at the scene of a fire - the firefighters filed a police report for interference immediately," an eyewitness told the website. "Luckily, the firefighters extinguished the fire before Mr. Hoffman caused any further trouble. Thanks to the police order, they could get out of there without further incident or any accident."
The website said he's vocal supporter of Robin Harris, the incumbent Monarch Fire Protection District Board President , who is running for re-election next week.