HALF-MILLION RETIREMENT CASH PAYOUT GIVEN TO ST. LOUIS FIREFIGHTERS PENSION EMPLOYEE
Firemen's Retirement System Executive Director Vicky Grass attends a board meeting in St. Louis on Tuesday, March 12, 2013. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, firstname.lastname@example.org
July 2, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Nicholas J.C. Pistor
ST. LOUIS - In May, Vicky Grass left her job with the Firemen's Retirement System of St. Louis having achieved the American Dream.
Grass, 63, who helped firefighters navigate the world of retirement as the department's pension director, retired herself - walking out with a $579,210 cash payout.
In addition to the one-time payment for severance and unused sick and vacation time, Grass will be paid a $4,870 monthly pension, an amount approved by retirement system trustees this week. In addition, she will receive an undisclosed amount from a deferred compensation plan to which she and her employer both contributed over the years.
"I always say that I'm the luckiest broad I know," Grass told the Post-Dispatch on Wednesday.
The retirement is a capstone of a career that took Grass from being a south St. Louis bartender to a payroll benefits specialist with the firefighters' pension system, eventually leading to a job as its director in 2000. Her final job entailed lots of paperwork, but she made no investment decisions for the fund.
Along the way, she became a poster child of a pension system that for two decades gave its office workers some of the most lucrative benefits among public employees in the city.
In 2013, after months of vitriolic debate, city leaders reached an agreement to curb the system's retirement package - but the changes applied only to future benefits.
"You can't change what you've already given somebody," said Grass, who worked for the system since 1986.
Officials knew the day would come when Grass would cash out. But the numbers provide a sobering reminder that the firefighters' retirement system is still costing the city millions, at a time when city leaders are asking voters to approve a $180 million bond issue for infrastructure improvements they say they can't afford otherwise.
After Grass announced her retirement, the city's Board of Aldermen honored her with a resolution, noting her work for the firefighters and previous work as a secretary at the Missouri Pacific Hospital. The resolution also noted her five years as a bartender, including a stint at the Eighth Inning bar near Carondelet Park.
"We pause in our deliberation to thank and recognize Vicky Grass for her long and productive service to the city of St. Louis and to the Fire Department," stated the resolution, introduced by Ward 12 Alderman Larry Arnowitz.
Arnowitz told the Post-Dispatch that Grass' compensation package was a result of long-standing agreements.
"It's certainly not a good precedent, but you can't go back and take these things away," Arnowitz said. "The system has been kind to a lot of people."
Grass made about $117,000 a year as the director of the system. Her retirement package gives her:
- $117,566 for 1,941 hours of unused sick, vacation and holiday time.
- $350,987 for an employee compensation severance package. (The package was approved in 1997, but it gave Grass credit for all years she worked back to 1986.)
- $110,657 from city's deferred retirement option plan.
- An unknown amount from a deferred compensation plan. The city claims these records are not public. Grass paid into the system and received matching contributions of up to 6 percent of her salary, but officials did not include those documents in its response to a Post-Dispatch public records request.
- $4,870 per month in pension payments for life.In 2013, the city reached an agreement with the Firemen's Retirement System that eliminated the six percent match for deferred compensation, as well as significant changes to the compensation severance package.
"The new system is not as good as the one we had," Grass said.
The Firemen's Retirement System pays the salary and expenses of its four office workers, in addition to firefighter pensions. The system's funding comes from firefighter contributions and yearly interest earnings, in addition to tax money from the city.
The city pays when there is a shortfall. In 2013, the city pumped $20 million into the system. Pension reforms have since reduced the city's liability. Paul Payne, the city's budget director, said the city paid $1 million into the system in 2015. And it's not expected to pay anything in 2016.
In February, the Missouri Supreme Court affirmed a decision allowing the city to create a new and separate retirement system for newly hired firefighters, giving them reduced benefits.
Still, the retirement comes as perks throughout city government have come into focus, including elected officials' getting brand-new cars funded by taxpayers. In May, the Post-Dispatch reported that Recorder of Deeds Sharon Carpenter requested a $700 a month car allowance, in addition to her $99,718 annual salary, which she receives while simultaneously collecting about $50,000 in annual pension benefits.
"I know these stories make it hard to pass things like the bond issue," Arnowitz said.
Mayor Francis Slay, who long championed reforms to the pension system, said Grass' retirement cash "sounds like legalized robbery."
"This is part and parcel of the gross abuses and exorbitant salaries the pension board allowed," Slay said in a statement. "It's a clear example of one of the many reasons we so desperately needed pension reform."
Grass, the oldest of seven children, said the money wouldn't change her.
"You retire so you can spend time with your family," Grass said, noting that she will help care for her elderly mother.
She added: "I'm honored to have worked for the firefighters who risk their lives every day. I'm very blessed."
UNIVERSITY CITY, MO. - Was the recent brief shutdown of a fire house a sure sign of risky unmet manpower needs in the University City Fire Department, or was it a benign condition resulting from a one-time Sunday morning scheduling snafu? The answer depends on who is speaking.
"There's a great deal of concern," said Councilman Terry Crow.
"We are all concerned about what we perceive to be a crisis in public safety," said Councilwoman Paulette Carr.
"There is no public safety issue," declared City Manager Lehman Walker.
During a June 22 council meeting, firefighters, council members, city officials and some residents provided their take on the events of the morning of June 14 when the city took Fire House No. 1, 863 Westgate Ave., out of service when six firefighters, rather than 11 who comprise a minimum shift complement, were on duty at 7 a.m.
Walker said staffing was short when "a couple" of firefighter sick cases that morning exacerbated summer vacations that had already been scheduled.
"We were short on staff on that day," Walker said. "There was a scheduling issue."
While additional firefighters were being called in for duty, the fire house was taken out of service for no more than an hour and a half, Walker said.
However, Jen Stuhlman, a shop steward for the firefighters union, told the council that the fire house was not fully operational for about 12 hours. She said the city had personnel sufficient only to man two pieces of equipment.
"For 12 hours, our city was without its needed protection," Stuhlman claimed.
But Walker later said that no calls were missed that day, and he added that one of the city's two fire houses is sometimes taken out of service for training, mutual aid responses and during fire calls.
Crow said the city had insufficient manpower for at least part of that day.
"Six firefighters for a city of 30,000 .... is mismanagement," he said while calling for an independent investigation of the June 14 events. No action was taken on that request.
A number of firefighters filled the council chambers, and stood and cheered at statements that were critical of the city administration and supportive of the firefighters.
Mayor Shelley Welsch reacted to the incendiary atmosphere by stating that the union, Professional Fire Fighters of Eastern Missouri, International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2665, has three lawsuits pending against the city, and she said that Kurt Becker, district vice president for the union, "threatens more."
Councilman Stephen Kraft inferred that the firefighters union should not be making staffing decisions for the city.
"This discussion is who runs the fire department and who makes management decisions," he said. "Neither the firefighters nor the union runs the department."
In early June, Carr and Crow lost a council vote when they tried to restore six firefighter positions to the city's fiscal 2016 budget. Kraft said the department's authorized strength drops from 45 positions to 39 in the budget year that begins July 1, but he said the city was close to hiring firefighters to fill vacancies.
"We haven't hired anybody in quite a while, and we are running a skeleton crew," Carr responded.
Firefighters and the city have been at loggerheads in recent years over issues ranging from the suspensions of six firefighters for 2014 electioneering activities, a new collective bargaining agreement adopted this spring, the city's possible outsourcing of emergency medical services, and minimum staffing levels.
FIRE DISTRICT BALLOT ISSUES FOR THE AUGUST 4th SPECIAL ELECTION
DIRECTOR - RIVERVIEW FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT
Vote For: 1 - 6 year term NONPARTISAN
PATRICK K. RUSSELL 1360 BELGROVE DR ST LOUIS MO 63137
THEO (TED) BROWN, SR. 9901 LILAC DR RIVERVIEW MO 63137
DAVID SCHMERBER 7028 IDLEWILD
JENNINGS MO 63136
MIRANDA AVANT-ELLIOTT 1137 JOLENE DR ST LOUIS MO 63137
FIRE DAMAGES BUILDING THAT WILL HOUSE LAFAYETTE PREP ACADEMY
A building at 1900 Lafayette Avenue that is slated to be the location of Lafayette Prep Academy was damaged by a fire early on Tuesday, June 30, 2015. St. Louis firefighters were called around midnight. Photo by Christian Gooden, email@example.com
June 30, 2015 - ST. LOUIS POST DISPATCH
MEHLVILLE, MO. - The fire was reported at about midnight Monday. The two-story brick building at 1900 Lafayette Avenue is attached to a church, but the church was not damaged. No one was injured.
The fire was contained to one classroom at the school building. St. Louis Fire Capt. Garon Mosby said the cause of the fire is under investigation. It was not suspicious.
Lafayette Prep Academy plans to renovate the building and open it to students in August 2016.
Construction work wasn't scheduled to begin until September of this year, and the fire won't change that timetable, said Brent Crittenden, managing principal of UIC, which is the developer for the school.
Since it opened in 2013, Lafayette Prep has leased space and operated out of Christ Church Cathedral downtown, but it needs more space to grow. It is moving to a temporary home in a building at 18th and Olive streets for the coming school year before moving to the Lafayette Avenue location for the 2016-2017 school year.
ESTRANGED HUSBAND WHO TRIED TO SET HOUSE ON FIRE GETS 120 DAYS 'SHOCK TIME'
Michael Joseph Ruffino, of St. Peters, got 120 days shock time after pleading guilty to breaking into his estranged wife's home and trying to burn it down.
May 3, 2015 - ST. LOUIS POST DISPATCH By Susan Weich
ST. PETERS - The estranged husband of a St. Peters woman was sentenced to 120 days shock time in jail for breaking into their home and trying to set it on fire.
Michael Joseph Ruffino, 41, of the 2000 block of Willowshade Court pleaded guilty Friday to burglary and arson.
According to police, in October Ruffino used a hammer to break a window and gain entry. Once inside, he grabbed a gas can from the garage and poured gasoline on the stairs leading from the main floor to the unfinished basement.
Ruffino then tried to set the house on fire, police said, but the fire apparently went out on its own.
In addition to the shock time, Ruffino must serve five years of supervised probation, with a dozen special conditions, including psychiatric evaluation and treatment, substance abuse evaluation and treatment, batterer's intervention program and not coming within 1,000 feet of the victim's residence or place of employment.
Ruffino's sentence was handed down by Circuit Judge Ted House.
CHESTERFIELD, MO. - Monarch Fire Protection District firefighters and the Metro West Fire Protection District Dive Team were called to assist Chesterfield Police with a vehicle recovery at Chesterfield Lakes Subdivision on Thursday, June 25, 2015.
After the vehicle went into the water the previous evening, the driver escaped before his SUV drifted out approximately 250 feet from shore and sank in about 30 feet of water. The dive team found the search challenging due to murky water and only an approximate location given.
Once located, Monarch firefighters used their Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) to deliver a tow cable from a heavy wrecker to the dive team. Their first attempt by paddling proved unsuccessful due to the weight of the cable and a head wind, so the motor was attached to the IRB and the cable was delivered. After the dive team secured the cable to the vehicle, they and the IRB crew cleared the water and the tow truck pulled the vehicle from the water.
Chief Marsonette stated, "This mission was accomplished successfully by great teamwork, solid training, and topnotch equipment."
ST. LOUIS, MO. - Medics were in the 5900 block of Romaine in north St. Louis on Tuesday night when they reported hearing gunshots.
The emergency crew contacted police to report the shots at approximately 11:45 p.m., but no victims or suspects were located.
On Wednesday morning, the crew discovered the ambulance they were in Tuesday night had ballistic damage, according to police.
"We've had cars hit. we've had trucks, we've had ambulances hit before," said Chief Dennis Jenkerson. "I would hope no one would target an ambulance who is there to help and hopefully correct the situation."
Authorities said the ambulance is still in service after sustaining gunshot damage.
9 FAMILIES DISPLACED AFTER APARTMENT FIRE IN AFFTON
June 25, 2015 - KTVI BY DANIELLE SCRUGGS
AFFTON, MO. - The St. Louis Red Cross is helping nine families recover after a fire swept through an Affton apartment complex overnight. The blaze started around 11p.m. Wednesday at the Cedar Creek Lodge apartments on Olde English Road. Authorities say the 1st alarm fire started in third floor unit. No one was injured.
Firefighters from four departments responded to the call. Several apartments are a total loss. At least three additional units have smoke damage.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
FIREFIGHTERS EXTINGUISH GARAGE FIRE IN WEST COUNTY
Photo by Monarch Fire Protection District
June 24, 2015 - Monarch Fire Protection District
CHESTERFIELD - Monarch Firefighters, with assistance from Metro West, responded to a call for a vehicle fire in a garage Wednesday, June 24.
Upon arrival the engine compartment was fully involved, with fire impinging on the garage separation wall and extending up to the garage ceiling. Crews quickly knocked the fire down and checked the residence for extension, of which there was none.
Several factors brought this to a successful conclusion:
1) the occupants became aware of the problem at its beginning, promptly called 911, evacuated and conducted an accountability check;
2) the built-in garage separation assemblies did their job containing the fire to the garage until fire crews arrived; and
3) the fire crews utilized their diligent training and first-class equipment to stop the fire where it was upon their arrival. This is a great example of how it's supposed to work!
THE BACKSTOPPERS KICK OFF "BE A SHIELD" MEMBERSHIP DRIVE
June 24, 2015 - KTVI BY EMMA RECHENBERG
ST. LOUIS, MO. - The BackStoppers organization is kicking off it's first-ever "Be A Shield" membership drive. The money raised helps the families of police, firefighters and other first responders killed in the line of duty.
Annual membership dues range from $150 to $10,000 and are tax deductible. Member benefits include complimentary tickets for the annual membership dinner, BackStoppers window decals, annual newsletter and plaque.
The number to donate is 1-800-782-2222 and volunteers and first responders will be answering your calls until 10 this morning.
FIREHOUSE STAFFING IS FOCUS OF CONTINUED DEBATE IN U CITY
Photo: The City Hall building in University City.
June 24, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch
UNIVERSITY CITY - A manpower shortage that forced University City to briefly shutter one of its two firehouses has prompted renewed scrutiny of fire department staffing.
"We are all concerned about what we perceive to be a crisis in public safety," Councilwoman Paulette Carr said at Monday night's City Council meeting, which was attended by some city firefighters.
During the meeting, Carr led a council discussion of the events of June 14 when City Manager Lehman Walker said "a scheduling issue" forced the city to close Firehouse No. 1 at 863 Westgate Avenue for less than an hour and a half.
However, Jen Stuhlman, a shop steward for the local firefighters union, told the council that the firehouse was not fully operational for about 12 hours. At 7 a.m. that morning, the city found itself with six firefighters on duty rather than 11, the minimum shift level, Carr said.
"Six firefighters for a city of 30,000 ... is mismanagement," said Councilman Terry Crow, who was joined by Carr two weeks ago in an unsuccessful fight to restore six firefighter positions to the city's fiscal 2016 budget.
After the meeting, Walker acknowledged that "we were short on staff that day" but said "there is no public safety issue." He said that each firehouse may occasionally be non-operational due to firefighter training sessions, mutual aid responses and other fire calls.
In other matters, the council approved a non-binding resolution committing the city to "eliminating all forms of discrimination against women and girls." Mayor Shelley Welsch, who co-sponsored the resolution, said the measure was "symbolic but important" to the city.
BABY BOOM AT ST. CHARLES FIRE HOUSE IS JUST IN TIME FOR FATHER'S DAY
Four firefighters at St. Charles Fire Station #5 have recently or will soon become fathers. The firefighters pose with their families at Fire Station #5 on Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in St. Charles. From left, Dave and Michelle Seithel of Columbia, Mo., Tyler and Lindsey Beauchamp of Clarksville with Kannyn, 2, and Kyndrik, 1 week, Joe and Natalie Gragnani of Oakville with Olive, 2 weeks, and Adam and Jen Solomon of St. Louis with Waylon, one month. Photo by Chris Lee, firstname.lastname@example.org
June 21, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Susan Weich
ST. CHARLES - For three firefighters at Engine House 5, sleep is a rare thing - and not just because they work at the busiest station in the city.
Adam Solomon, Joe Gragnani and Tyler Beauchamp are new fathers. Waylon Paul Solomon was born May 22, Olive Caroline Gragnani arrived June 3 and Kyndrik Rainier Beauchamp was born June 11.
The births are just in time for Father's Day.
"In the past I've celebrated the day by looking up to my father, and now I realize that the day's also about me; it's definitely a cool change," Gragnani said.
The firefighters have no explanation for the baby boom other than it reflects a crop of younger hires at the department who are ready to start families.
Still they say it's unusual for three of the 15 who work out of the firehouse to have babies so close to each other.
"It was funny; I told the guys we were having a baby, and one of them said, 'I may as well tell you, my wife and I are expecting too,' and it just kept coming," Gragnani said.
And another from the firehouse is on the way. David Seithel and his wife, Michelle, are expecting in August.
All of the men are first-time fathers except for Beauchamp, who has another daughter, Kannyn, who will be 2 next month.
The three who've already had their babies said having a support group at the firehouse has helped not only through their wives' pregnancies but with questions about caring for a newborn.
A lot of the children of the veteran firefighters are in college, so there's a generation gap when it comes to handing out that type of advice, the men said.
"They've got experience, but at the same time a lot has changed," said Beauchamp. "We have these fancy gadgets, and they're kind of impressed with some of the stuff we have to take care of our kids."
The pregnancies definitely have altered the typical firehouse chats about sports or hunting.
"Joe and I have been talking about breast-feeding, swaddling babies or how much sleep we got the night before," said Beauchamp. "But really, it blends right into the conversation about the baseball game."
The firefighters are on duty for two days straight, so having the support of family and friends is especially important, they said.
"I move away from my family 48 hours at a time, so with a young child at home, it's hard for me to be a lot of help to my wife, Lindsey, other than moral support over the phone," Beauchamp said. "You almost feel helpless sometimes when you're at work, and you can't be there physically."
The backing the men get extends to other members of their department, too.
Solomon said when his wife, Jen, went into labor seven weeks early, a lot of his co-workers took his shifts so he could be with his family.
"With Waylon being at the hospital for two weeks, going back and forth, it was really hectic," he said. "Having a lot of support from the guys when he came early was huge."
Gragnani said his co-workers were almost as excited as he was to become a father.
"As soon as my wife, Natalie, and I got home from the hospital, I was getting calls and texts for me to bring the baby up to the firehouse so they could meet her," he said.
So far, Solomon is the only firefighter who has returned to work, and he said the amount of sleep he gets at home versus at work has been about equal.
"Summertime is usually busy, so it can be pretty brutal on a shift," he said. Calls at House 5 last year totaled 3,320, more than double any of the other city firehouses.
That's where an understanding wife comes in handy, Solomon said.
"If it's a night where I'm going to have to work the next day, she lets me kind of have the night off at home," he said. "So I'm stepping up to let her have the night off after my shifts."
Gragnani said in his limited time as a father, he's found being a firefighter has been good training.
"I'm used to going to sleep for an hour or two, waking up and having to do something and then going back to sleep and being up again in another hour or two," he said.
Seithel is closely watching how his colleagues are handling things.
"I'm terrified and excited at the same time," Seithel said. "But it's nice to know that everyone else is terrified and excited along with me."
RICHMOND HEIGHTS, MO. - Congratulations to Battalion Chief Tom Nuernberger, who retired today after 30 years of service with The City of Richmond Heights, MO and The Richmond Heights Fire Department. We wish him the very best and thank him for his dedication to the job and citizens of the city. Enjoy retirement Tom!
FLOOD WATCHES ACROSS THE ST. LOUIS REGION
June 18, 2015 - KTVI BY ROCHE MADDEN, JEFF BERNTHAL, CHRIS HIGGINS AND ANNE ELISE PARKS
MEHLVILLE, MO. - More rain in the forecast over the next few days means all eyes are on localized flooding and the possibility for flash flooding.
Rivers in the St. Louis area continue to rise. The Meramec River has marched out of its banks and flooded George Winter Park near Fenton. Picnic tables have become islands surrounded by water. The main gates are closed and locked no one is allowed in the park.
"We tend to have a lot of water rescues," said Scott Barthelmass, a spokesman for the Eureka Fire Department.
At Eureka Fire Station Number One, crews were making sure everything is ready for any swift water rescues. The department has three boats and special equipment necessary to save the lives of folks who are trapped in rising waters.
"We're expecting in the next 36 hours, moderate to major flooding in the outlying area," said Fire Capt. Phil Goode.
He said firefighters train every year at nearby Six Flags on the Thunder River attraction.
"Very important we have to keep up with current techniques and make sure our equipment is ready to go," Goode said.
The Big River in House Springs has moved more than 100 feet out of its banks in just one day. The river is now in Sandi Metts' backyard.
"We do have a back way to get out of here," she said.
People who live nearby the rising river are not worried. Even during the great flood of '93, Metts' home was high and dry. Still, she enjoys watching Mother Nature in action.
A fire damaged the Ferguson Brewing Company on South Florissant Road on Friday, June 19, 2015. Photo by Kim Bell, email@example.com
June 19, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Kim Bell
FERGUSON - The Ferguson Brewing Company was damaged by a fire that started in the kitchen overnight.
An owner, Joe Lonero, said he didn't know when he might reopen.
Ferguson Assistant Fire Chief Steve Fair said a fluorescent light left on in the kitchen area caught fire. A police officer driving by the restaurant, at 418 South Florissant Road, saw smoke and reported the fire at 6:21 a.m.
Crews from the fire house two blocks away saw smoke across Florissant Road. Black smoke was pouring from the building and soon after the fire commander circled the brick building there were flames coming from a side door and window, Fair said.
The one-alarm fire was brought under control in about 10 minutes.
The kitchen was gutted, but the fire didn't reach the second floor banquet room, Fair said. The rest of the business had water and smoke damage. Twenty firefighters from four departments helped fight the fire. No one was injured.
Fair estimated the building is about 100 years old.
MISSOURI - "As significant flooding continues to impact large portions of the state, I have directed state emergency management personnel and the Missouri State Highway Patrol to take action to assist local communities and protect the public," Gov. Nixon said. "With more heavy rain in the forecast, we will continue to remain in direct contact with law enforcement and local officials as we work to protect lives and property."
In addition to the Mississippi River, a number of smaller rivers and streams are expected to hit major flood stage including the Meramec River, the Bourbeuse River, the Cuivre River and Dardenne Creek.
The team running the State Emergency Operations Center has been activated. This team includes senior officials from the Missouri Department of Public Safety, Missouri National Guard, Missouri State Highway Patrol and the State Emergency Management Agency. The Missouri State Emergency Operations Plan also has been activated, allowing state agencies to coordinate directly with local jurisdictions to provide emergency services.
Missourians, especially motorists, are encouraged to remember these important safety tips on flooding and high water:
-Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
-Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle can be quickly swept away. Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars, causing loss of control and possible stalling.
-A foot of water will float many vehicles. Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles, including sport utility vehicles and pick-ups. Even if the water appears shallow enough to cross, don't try it. Water hides dips in the road. Worse yet, there may be no road at all under the water. Flooding can scour away the entire road surface and a significant amount of ground beneath.
Missourians who need disaster information, shelter information, and referrals are urged to call 211. The 211 service is now available throughout Missouri.
MONARCH FIRE DISTRICT IS READY FOR POSSIBLE FLOODING
Photo by Monarch Fire Protection District
June 17, 2015 - Monarch Fire Protection Distict
CHESTERFIELD, MO. - Monarch is preparing for potential flooding by participating in a regional planning event due to the recent extreme rainfall in our area. Newly returned Deputy Chief Les Crews is proving invaluable to the District and the region as he is a key participant in the preparations for the possible flooding issues.
Monarch's new boat system, with a larger, more powerful, metal rescue boat coupled with a smaller, inflatable powered craft are designed for just such situations as this. Many Monarch personnel have been trained in swift water rescue as part of Monarch's efforts to provide the highest levels of service. In fact, Chief Crews is one of the primary Swift Water Rescue instructors for this part of the state.
The Command Staff is ready to deploy needed assets in support of regional rescue efforts having contingency plans in place. While the Board always hopes there is no need for rescue efforts as it means people are in harm's way, the men and women of Monarch stand ready to respond with the right assets at the right time to protect our resident's and visitors.
ELIMINATION OF 6 FIRE DEPARTMENT POSITIONS NOT WITHOUT OPPOSITION
June 17, 2015 - West End Word by William Poe
- University City has a new $35 million budget but not before the city council grappled with issues related to fire department manpower, police facilities, street repairs, Fair U City, the city manager's office budget, legislative travel allowances, recreational programs and facilities, and even the right of council members to ask questions of city staff.
Fire department employees drew the greatest scrutiny as council members Paulette Carr and Terry Crow were turned back in their attempts to retain six fire department positions, which they contend are vital to the city's public safety. The new budget cuts two captain and four firefighter/paramedic shift positions.
Carr said the "drastic" cuts would reduce the city's firefighting capabilities. Former City Manager Frank Ollendorff said the city deserves full-time career firefighters and paramedics.
"This would bring our department to an all-time low (in manpower)," said city firefighter Jen Stuhlman.
Stuhlman is a representative of Professional Fire Fighters of Eastern Missouri, International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2665. The union recently ratified a new three-year collective bargaining agreement with the city through March, 2018.
Mayor Shelley Welsch took issue with claims that the fire department will be understaffed.
"The fire department is staffed at the level it has been staffed for years," Welsch said. "Our service has not been cut."
Fire Chief Adam Long agreed.
"There is no public safety risk to residents or visitors," Long said.
However, on Sunday, June 14, Engine House #1, located at Vernon and Westgate, was closed due to lack of staffing. "Our minimum manning is supposed to be 11 personnel on duty. Today we will have six. We will be running one ambulance and one engine company out of House 2," according to a written statement from University City firefighters.
Council Member Crow wanted to know, among other matters, whether the city had enough manpower to fulfill its mutual aid agreements with other St. Louis County municipal fire departments and fire protection districts.
Long did not answer, and City Manager Lehman Walker chastised Crow for not asking the question during several earlier budget public hearings and council study sessions.
"I have the right to ask questions at any time," Crow responded.
Crow then asked Walker what criteria was used for fire and police department staffing requirements.
Walker said that a recent study of fire department staffing - an April 8 report by Virginia-based Management Advisory Group International Inc. - recommended changes in authorized staffing.
"We were overstaffed," Walker said.
Walker said the police department had not been similarly studied. He added that the city is in the process of hiring eight to 10 officers.
The police department's capital improvements financing needs were dissected by council members, some of whom questioned a $7 million budget set-aside for the eventual replacement, or renovations to, the existing police headquarters.
According to the city administration, the city for each of the past five years has placed into reserve $1.4 million toward the project. The matter is currently being studied by outside consultants who will report in July.
Crow said the $7 million set-aside was proposed to the council just within the last couple of weeks.
"In the last two weeks, we get an earmark for $7 million," Crow said. "This doesn't make sense to me."
"This did not happen over the last two weeks," Welsch retorted. "It's been five years."
Council Member Michael Glickert said he supported new police facilities but suggested the $7 million should be parked in an unallocated fund. The council approved the transfer.
Crow, Carr and Council Member Stephen Kraft were out-voted in an attempt to take $1.2 million from the city's cash reserves to finance additional street work.
About $600,000 in street, alley, curb and sidewalk work for the new budget year are allocated from the city's capital improvement sales tax, Walker said. Crow and Carr said the amount is inadequate to meet the city's needs, especially in light of the city's proposed $20 million streets bond issue, which was rejected by voters in April.
"Is there a need or not?" Crow asked. "We need to take a look at the priorities of this council."
FIRE DISTRICT ADOPTS NEW PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS FOR HIRING
June 16, 2015 - Central County Fire & Rescue
ST. CHARLES COUNTY - Central County Fire & Rescue firefighters respond to a variety of emergency situations, many of which are very physically demanding. Because of this, the Board of Directors decided at its June 9 meeting that all new applicants must have a CPAT (Candidate Physical Ability Test) card. Firefighters receive this card after passing the CPAT. This is a standardized test that consists of eight critical physical tasks that simulate actual job duties on the fireground.
Although we are not currently accepting applications, we wanted to make any future applicants aware of these new requirements.
ARSON INVESTIGATORS SIFT THROUGH LEVELED HOME IN FLORISSANT TO FIND CAUSE
A Florissant police officer and an agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), walk through a the wreckage of a house on Monday, June 15, 2015, that exploded on Sunday. The pair were taking photos of the charred debris and looking for evidence at the house that is located in the 800 block of Pershall Road in Florissant. Photo By David Carson, firstname.lastname@example.org
June 15, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch
FLORISSANT, MO. - Arson investigators spent Monday morning at the scene of a house explosion, but authorities say they don't expect to answer what caused it anytime soon.
The Florissant Police Department has two arson investigators who will be handling the probe, said Florissant Police Officer Craig DeHart. Florissant also asked the ATF to help.
The explosion destroyed the home in the 800 block of Pershall Road at about 2 p.m. Sunday. Two of the three men who were inside suffered burn injuries.
"Our investigators are still trying to dig into it," DeHart said. "It could take days to dig out one of these fires."
DeHart said he knew of no troubles at the home before that police responded to.
ATF spokesman John Ham said that agency is involved because Florissant asked for assistance. He said there is no federal investigation as of now, and he said the agency will help even if the cause is accidental, he said.
"Because ATF has a great deal of experience with explosions and fire scene, they asked if we would take a look at the scene," he said. "We're just offering our expertise."
He said the ATF has two fire investigators and an explosive specialist working on this case.
Investigators will try to pinpoint the origin of the fire or explosion. They will be looking "somewhere down in the rubble" and that could take time because the structure - or what's left of it - has to be deemed safe, Ham said.
Laclede Gas Co. also had some employees at the house on Monday morning.
A neighbor described the explosion as sounding like a bomb went off. In the aftermath of the explosion, windows at the house were blown out into the front yard and glass and debris was strewn in the road, which runs along Interstate 270. Siding melted on two neighbors' homes.
The home is owned by Robert Jerome Malawey, according to a family member. He was inside when it exploded. So was his his brother, Nicholas J. Malawey, and Nicholas' son, Scott Malawey, said the family member, Tammy Malawey of Troy, Mo.
She said Robert Malawey suffered the most injuries. Nicholas also had burns, and Scott was not injured, she said.
June 12, 2015 - Webster-Kirkwood Times by Dennis Hannon
SHREWSBURY, MO. - The memory of the late Fire Chief Bill Fox was a palpable presence Tuesday at the first meeting of the Shrewsbury Board of Aldermen since his unexpected death on May 30. The meeting began with a moment of silence for Fox.
Mayor Felicity Buckley recalled her personal association with Fox.
"I have had the pleasure of working with him over the past five years, and Bill taught me a tremendous amount about firefighters," she said. "I was always impressed with how he spoke of his men, how important they were to him, and how he never, ever hesitated to tell me what they needed.
"I loved seeing the relationship he had with our community, she added. "Bill will be very much missed."
Don and Margaret Smith of Sutherland Avenue experienced firsthand Fox's concern for residents on May 19, when Don Smith fell in his home and was unable to pick himself up, nor could Margaret manage it.
Calling 911, the Smiths discovered that all of Shrewsbury's paramedics were on assignment so Chief Fox took the assignment himself.
Fox "got me up and then he sat down and talked to us and visited for a while until the paramedics got there," Don Smith recalled. As he chatted with the Smiths, Fox mentioned how much he was looking forward to retiring in a couple of years, Margaret said.
"When we saw on the television that the Chief had died, I fixed a double batch of pasta salad and a double batch of brownies, and took it down to the fire house," Margaret said. "That's pretty tough to make when you're 82 years old, but they really appreciated it."
Interim Chief Ken Buss mentioned the Smith's gift in his first semi-monthly report to the board Tuesday. He reported many expressions of sympathy from citizens, but only one gesture that was edible.
The fire department is deliberating on a number of options in providing an enduring memorial to Fox, Buss said, noting a report will be forthcoming.
Finding a replacement for Fox will not be a simple matter, Buckley said.
"I really have nothing to say on that," she said, adding there is no precedent for the board to rely upon in making the selection. "He had been there for 26 years."
Smith offered a solution.
"I think the guy they've got doing it right now would be a pretty good choice," he said, referring to Buss.
FIRE FIGHTERS OVERWORKED, OVERWHELMED IN UNIVERSITY CITY
Photo by KSDK
June 15, 2015 - KSDK PJ Randhawa, KSDK
UNIVERSITY CITY - Firefighters in University City say manpower shortages within the department are putting the public at risk.
One of the two fire stations in the city had to close Sunday morning because there weren't enough firefighters to operate the equipment, according to the Fire Fighters Union.
Eleven Firefighters are required to operate the station's equipment, according to the fire fighters union, and only six were available Sunday morning. As a result, the Fire station was closed for most of the day. Kurt Becker of IAFF Local 2665 says the 36 fire fighters in the city have been pulling an average of 40 hours of overtime per day.
"They're throwing people on time and a half on a broken fire truck just to cobble together some kind of story and make people believe this station is operational," said Becker.
Earlier this month city leaders cut six vacant positions totaling roughly $500,000 from the fire departments budget. City leaders say the fire department is not understaffed or underfunded.
"We had a management consult come in from Washington DC to look at the staffing levels, and they concluded we were overstaffed," said Lehman Walker, City Manager of University City.
"University City's citizens are going to continue to have delayed responses while waiting for out of town ambulances and out of town fire trucks to come in to run the calls that University City's equipment should be running," said Becker.
The city manager tells us the city is exploring ways to decrease the overtime. The fire fighters union district vice president says they are considering taking this issue into the courts. Fire Chief Adam Long was in support of the budget cut, but was not available for comment.
Debris from a house that exploded in the 800 block of Pershall Road in Florissant just before 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 14, 2015.
June 14, 2015 - St, Louis Post Dispatch By Margaret S. Gillerman, Michele Munz
FLORISSANT, MO. - An explosion leveled a house in the 800 block of Pershall Road Sunday afternoon.
Two people who lived there were able to escape and were transported by ambulance for treatment of burn injuries.
Windows at the house were blown out into the front yard and the explosion shot glass and debris into the road, which runs along Interstate 270. Siding on two adjacent houses melted.
Jason Hoevelmann, battalion chief for the Florissant Valley Fire Protection District, said responders received a report of an explosion at about 2 p.m. and found the house engulfed in flames.
Hoevelmann called the explosion a "pancake explosion."
"The top just fell straight down on top of itself," he said.
He said the cause was unknown.
Utilities were on the scene investigating.
Several police, fire departments and districts responded. In addition to Florissant Valley, other fire departments and districts at the scene were Metro North, Berkeley and Ferguson.
One neighbor reported seeing the two men emerge from the house, including one crawling on his knees out the back door. Witnesses also said they saw the two men, who are brothers, leave on stretchers. Neighbors said three men were home at the time of the explosion, the brothers along with a son of one of the brothers.
"It sounded just like a bomb going off," said a neighbor who did not want his name used. He was in bed at the time getting ready to go to work. He and his wife jumped up and ran out to see one of the men crawling out the back door of the house.
George Simms, 70, who lives two doors down the street, said he heard what he thought was thunder or a tractor-trailer crashing on the highway. He went into his backyard and saw the house destroyed.
"I don't see how anyone walked out of that," Simms said.
Ken and Carol Angell, ages 77 and 74, said the brothers have lived in the house for about 15 years. They are active in church and sing in the church choir.
"We are just happy they are alive," Carol Angell said.
J.B. Forbes of the Post-Dispatch contributed information for this report.
The Wentzville Fire Protection District received a call Saturday night for four people stranded by high water.
June 13, 2015 - KSDK-TV Bailey E Kinney, KSDK-TV
WENTZVILLE - The Wentzville Fire Protection District received a call Saturday night for four people stranded by high water in Indian Creek Park.
The four young adults were crossing a creek in unincorporated St. Charles County when heavy rains stranded them on an island. The incident took place around 7:00 p.m. Firefighters were able to rescue the four people and a dog from the island.
ST. CHARLES COUNTY PARAMEDIC FILES SUIT AFTER SAME-SEX PARTNER DENIED MEDICAL BENEFITS
Christopher (left) and Andrew Bone
June 12, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Susan Weich
ST. CHARLES COUNTY - A paramedic with the county ambulance district has filed a federal suit claiming his same-sex partner, who initially was approved for spousal benefits, was later denied them.
Andrew Bone, 32, an employee with the district since 2008, said he married Christopher Bone on Sept. 20 in California. He said he had been trying since 2011 to get coverage for his partner from the ambulance district but had been unsuccessful because of roadblocks in Missouri law.
After Christopher Bone, 30, lost his job with a telecommunications company at the end of April, Andrew Bone tried again to get coverage - health, dental, vision and life insurance - for his spouse.
Bone said this time he got an email from the district on May 5, saying his husband had been approved.
But eight days later, while Christopher Bone was undergoing a pre-scheduled surgery, Andrew Bone said he got a phone call from the district saying his husband's benefits had been denied.
Tony Rothert, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, said the Bones' lawsuit is similar to one the ACLU has filed against the Ozark Fire District, which denied spousal benefits to the wife of a lesbian firefighter.
The two suits are the only ones he knows of pending in Missouri.
"I'm also not aware of any government entities, other than these two, that are refusing to recognize marriages from other states," he said.
He said the ambulance district should be aware of Barrier v. Vasterling, a case that in October challenged Missouri's constitutional and statutory provisions that deny legal recognition to the marriages of same-sex couples.
The provisions were found unconstitutional, and the attorney general elected not to appeal, Rothert said.
"So the laws it's relying on have been declared unconstitutional," he said. "The district is an outlier compared to most government entities at all levels in Missouri."
The ambulance district released a statement that said: "For four decades, the St. Charles County Ambulance District has worked diligently to create an environment of fairness and support for all employees. Like many companies, we regularly review and update our policies and procedures to make a genuine and sincere effort to continue to promote this type of culture.
"The legal validity of same-sex marriages is a complicated and politically-charged matter, and the highest court in our nation is currently pondering this very issue. In that light, we're disappointed in this action in that we believe it is premature, as a decision is widely expected this summer."
Andrew Bone said it feels as though the district is trying to say his relationship is substandard compared to other employees'.
"We've been together for eight years now," he said. "It's a completely normal marriage that they want to push by the wayside simply because we're two people of the same sex."
Bone said ultimately, the issue comes down to a matter of his spouse's health.
"I don't want to put my employer in a spot like this; they are a great employer, and they've been very, very good to me," he said. "But it comes down to the fact that I love someone, and I want them to be healthy."
In addition to his medical bills from the surgery, Christopher Bone is having to purchase private insurance, the couple said.
They did not specify a dollar amount in the lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday, but they are seeking punitive and compensatory damages, as well as attorney fees. They are being represented by Kirkwood attorneys Russell C. Riggan and Samuel Moore.
TWO JET SKIERS SAFE AFTER BEING RESCUED FROM MERAMEC RIVER
June 12, 2015 - KTVI BY CHRIS REGNIER
FENTON, MO. - Two jet skiers are safe after they were rescued from the Meramec River. The call for help came around midnight. Authorities say the two were in the Meramec River near George Winter Park when they got stranded. When a water crew found them, one person was in the water trying to get the jet ski to shore.
Flooding on the Meramec made it difficult because the river doesn't have banks. The jet skiers were towed to the Arnold boat dock.
SECOND ST. LOUIS FIREFIGHTER CHARGED WITH STEALING CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT
George M. Anderson (left) and Brian D. Burton, St. Louis firefighters charged after police say they took construction equipment from a St. Louis business.
June 10, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Joel Currier
ST. LOUIS - A second St. Louis city firefighter was charged Wednesday in the theft last month of construction equipment.
George M. Anderson, 49, who has served the department for more than 20 years, was charged with felony stealing. On Monday, fellow city firefighter Brian D. Burton, 37, of the 1600 block of Pine Street in St. Louis, was charged with felony theft.
Police say Anderson and Burton on May 28 took heavy-duty construction equipment from Concrete Strategies at 7400 North Broadway. Police said the stolen equipment, valued at several thousand dollars, was found at a home in Webster Groves. It was not clear why the equipment was there.
Anderson's start date and assigned engine house was not available Wednesday. Burton joined the department in December 2013 and worked at Engine House 33, at 8300 North Broadway in the city's Baden neighborhood.
Anderson's salary is $57,480, while Burton's salary is $40,214, according to 2015 city salary data.
Anderson and Burton each have been booked and released from the city jail. Both have 24 hours from the time of their release from jail to notify the fire department of the arrest, a department spokesman said. When that happens, they are expected to be placed on administrative leave.
Anderson lives in the 6000 block of Wanda Avenue in St. Louis, court records say.
PACIFIC WOMAN GETS 5-YEAR SENTENCE FOR CRASH THAT KILLED OFF-DUTY FIREFIGHTER
Jael M. Clem, 40, of Pacific, was sentenced Tuesday to five years in prison for a drunken driving crash that killed an off-duty firefighter.
June 10, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Susan Weich
FRANKLIN COUNTY - A Pacific woman who was drunk when she was involved in a crash that killed an off-duty Eureka firefighter has been sentenced to five years in prison.
Jael M. Clem, 40, of the 2000 block of Green Oak Street, pleaded guilty Tuesday to involuntary manslaughter. Circuit Judge Gael Wood handed down the sentence.
The plea was part of a deal with prosecutors that included dismissing two other charges - armed criminal action and misdemeanor child endangerment - said Franklin County Prosecutor Robert Parks.
Clem was driving drunk when she collided with a vehicle driven by off-duty Eureka firefighter Gregory Light on Highway O in Franklin County about 9:45 p.m. on March 7, 2014.
Light, 49, of Catawissa in Franklin County, died at the scene. The Missouri Highway Patrol said Clem was driving a 2010 Audi Q5 east on Highway O near Jefferson Street when she attempted to pass a vehicle and struck the front of a westbound 2007 Dodge Caliber driven by Light.
Clem's car flipped over and stopped in the eastbound lanes. Light's car traveled off the left side of the road.
Clem's daughter, Yasmin Clem, 11, was a passenger in the car. She was taken to Mercy Hospital St. Louis in Creve Coeur for treatment. The Clems were wearing seat belts; Light was not.
According to charges, a state trooper drew Jael Clem's blood twice at the hospital: the first result was 0.139 percent; the second 0.114 percent.
The limit to drive a vehicle in Missouri and Illinois is .08 percent.
Light, who had served the Eureka Fire Protection District for 27 years, helped train emergency medical technicians and paramedics and served on several local and national committees.
UNIVERSITY CITY CUTS OPEN FIRE DEPARTMENT POSTS FROM BUDGET
June 9, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch
UNIVERSITY CITY, MO. -
A $32 million budget that cuts six vacant positions from the fire department has been approved over the opposition of two University City City Council members.
On Monday night, council members Terry Crow and Paulette Carr were defeated in an attempt to maintain the fire department positions, which they claimed were essential to the city's firefighting effectiveness. Both subsequently voted against the 2015-16 budget.
"These are drastic cuts in our firefighting capability," Carr said.
However, Mayor Shelley Welsch and Fire Chief Adam Long disputed that statement.
"The fire department is staffed at the level it has been staffed for years," Welsch said. "Our service has not been cut."
City Manager Lehman Walker said that elimination of the positions was consistent with a recommendation made to the city in April by a management consultant. Councilman Stephen Kraft said experts, rather than council members or the public, are best suited to determine staffing levels.
Crow, Carr and Kraft lost an attempt to take $1.2 million from the city's cash reserves to finance additional street work. Welsch said the use of reserves "is not the best practice."
About $600,000 in street, alley, curb and sidewalk work for the budget year beginning July 1 are allocated from the city's capital improvement sales tax, Walker said. Crow and Carr said the amount is inadequate to meet the city's needs.
HAZELWOOD, MO. - The Hazelwood Fire Department has an opening for a full-time Deputy Fire Marshall. The job is an Exempt Civilian Position, with one-year probation. Associate's Degree in Fire Protection Technology, Fire Science or other related field by accredited college or university required. Five years of experience in the fire service prevention, promotion of fire safety, or fire prevention engineering field required.
Qualifications include possession of, or the ability to obtain, ICC certifications in Fire Plans Examiner, Fire Inspection I, and Fire Inspection 2 within 18 months of hire.
Starting salary is $62,191 per year. Apply by close of business by June 15, 2015, at Hazelwood Fire Department, 6800 Howdershell Rd., Hazelwood, Mo. 63042, or fax your application and resume to (314) 731-1976.
ST. LOUIS FIREFIGHTER CHARGED WITH STEALING CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT
(photo) Brian D. Burton
June 9, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Joel Currier
ST. LOUIS - A city firefighter has been charged with stealing construction equipment from a St. Louis firm.
Brian D. Burton, 37, of the 1600 block of Pine Street in St. Louis, was charged Monday with felony stealing. He posted 10 percent of a $5,000 bail and was released.
Authorities say Burton and another unidentified person were found with heavy-duty construction equipment that had been taken from Concrete Strategies at 7400 North Broadway. The stolen equipment, valued at more than $500, was found at a home in Webster Groves. It was not clear why the equipment was there.
The other suspect in the theft has not yet been charged.
Messages left with Construction Strategies were not returned Tuesday.
Burton joined the city fire department in December 2013, said Capt. Gregg Favre, a fire department spokesman.
Burton has 24 hours from the time of his release from jail to notify the fire department of the arrest, Favre said. When that happens, Burton is expected to be placed on administrative leave.
Burton was assigned to Engine House 33 at 8300 North Broadway in the city's Baden neighborhood, Favre said.
FATHER SENTENCED FOR SETTING FATAL 2001 HOUSE FIRE IN FLORISSANT THAT KILLED SON
Zachariah Kemper died in a house fire in 2001 at his home in Florissant.
June 8, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Dan Greenwald, Online News Producer
ST. LOUIS - A St. Louis County man who plotted an arson for financial gain that instead killed his 15-year-old son was sentenced Monday to five years and 10 months in prison.
The Nov. 16, 2001 fire that killed Zachariah "Zachy" Kemper was the third planned or carried out by Steven H. Kemper and his then-wife, Sandra Kay Bryant, according to court documents and testimony Monday.
Kemper and his lawyer said that the fire was supposed to happen when their home, at 6682 Champana Lane, was unoccupied. It was supposed to be blamed on careless smoking and cleaning habits. But Bryant set the fire when the house was occupied by her son, her husband and her mother, they said. Zachy was trapped and died.
Assistant federal defender Nanci McCarthy said that Bryant intended Kemper to be a victim as well.
Zachy's uncle, William "Bill" Fleming, asked U.S. District Judge Audrey Fleissig to "carefully examine the maximum penalty," saying that Zachy was kind, generous and funny.
Fleming said that he expected parents dealing with the death of their son to cry and scream, "instead of calmly arranging for an insurance payout."
He also faulted Kemper for 11 years of deception before he finally pleaded guilty.
At one point, Kemper listened with his head in hands shaking with tremors.
He later agreed with much of what Fleming said, saying that he has been enduring a "living hell" for the last 14 years and that the Flemings "don't know the loss I feel."
"I'm so sorry everything happened the way it happened," he said.
Under federal sentencing guidelines, Kemper faced 10 years in prison. But lawyers on both sides agreed that he should be get a break for cooperating with the federal investigation and for agreeing to testify against his former wife. Bryant pleaded guilty in March, days before her trial was to start. McCarthy said that Kemper should not do any prison time due to serious medical and mental health issues that include a heart attack and stroke in 2008, emphysema and back and leg problems. Kemper came to court in a motorized wheelchair.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Rea asked for between 60 and 75 months, citing the two other fires that Kemper or his wife set, fueled by greed.
As part of his guilty plea to aiding and abetting the use of fire to commit mail fraud in 2013, Kemper, admitted setting fire to his mother-in-law's house in 1997. He was retaliating against Betty Bryant for ending her financial support and cutting the couple out of her will after she discovered they had defrauded her. Betty Bryant escaped and later reconciled with the couple.
In 1999, Bryant set fire to her mother's home in Alton when it failed to sell, Rea said Monday.
Bryant, 59, of St. Louis County, pleaded guilty to the same charge as Kemper and is scheduled to be sentenced July 8. Both sides have agreed on an eight-year prison term, but Fleissig said Monday that she had not yet agreed to accept that condition of Bryant's plea. If Fleissig rejects the plea, Bryant could go to trial. If she is sentenced to eight years in prison, she'd get credit for the time she's already served and the net result would be 46 months in prison, U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan said earlier this year.
Bryant, under her married name, originally faced murder and arson charges in St. Louis County Circuit Court until a mistrial caused when jurors were allowed to see a video showing Bryant's polygraph examination. Bryant's lawyers wanted jurors to see her repeatedly deny any role in the fire and St. Louis County Circuit Judge Judge David Lee Vincent III agreed. He later changed his mind. The Missouri Supreme Court would later rule that Bryant could not be re-tried because her lawyers had objected to the mistrial.
By the time that ruling came, the statute of limitations had passed for nearly all applicable federal charges, Callahan has said.
On Monday, after faulting Kemper for his lack of an apology to relatives, Rea turned to Fleming and his wife, Linda Fleming, and said, "I am sorry I couldn't do more."
June 8, 2015 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Daniel Neman
Fire departments have the reputation for cooking great food. But whose is the best?
Firefighters representing departments from St. Louis and Maplewood went head to head and toe to to - both head and toe - Saturday for the KC Masterpiece Firehouse Challenge. At stake were bragging rights, a trophy (a golden slow cooker) and a $5,000 donation to the winning department's favorite charity.
The rules were simple: The barbecue had to be cooked in a slow cooker and it had to be cooked with one of the KC Masterpiece sauces.
A crowd of more than 200 at the Maplewood Wal-Mart Supercenter chose the winner, the St. Louis Fire Department, as represented by the cooks and firefighters of Engine 28.
This is the winning recipe:
Engine 28's Sweet and Hot Barbecue Brisket Yield: 6 to 8 servings
- 1 (4 to 5-pound) flat cut brisket, well trimmed.
- 3 tablespoons barbecue rub of choice
- 1 to 1Â½ cups KC Masterpiece classic barbecue sauce
- 2 small red peppers, sliced into thin strips
- 1 medium yellow onion, sliced thin
- 1 orange, halved
- 1 ghost or habanero pepper sliced in half and seeded, see note
Note: For less heat, substitute a jalapeno or serrano pepper. Always wear gloves when working with extra-hot peppers such as ghost or habaneros.
1. Coat brisket on all sides with the rub and refrigerate overnight. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before cooking.
2. In the bottom of a slow cooker, place the sauce, red pepper slices, onion and orange. Heat the sauce on low for about 30 minutes, then add the brisket, fat side up, and cook until tender, about 6 to 7 hours. Remove brisket and let rest for 15 minutes, covered. Remove orange and pepper. When cool enough to handle, slice brisket thin and return to sauce. Toss well to coat. Add a pinch more of rub if additional seasoning is needed. Serve hot.
UNIVERSITY CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT UNDERSTAFFED; ARE RESIDENTS IN DANGER?
May 3, 2015 - KMOV By Dan Greenwald, Online News Producer
University City is not meeting its own minimum requirements when it comes to firefighters staffing, News 4 has learned.
Under city police, the fire department is supposed to have 45 firefighters, but only 31 are on active duty. Recently, the fire department was forced to hold back fire trucks due to understaffing and were able to answer all calls with the help of surrounding communities.
"It's a big deal and its really running the first responders here thin and we feel like it's a situation where taxpayers are paying for something they're not really receiving," said firefighter union president Kurt Becker. "For whatever reason at city hall, the fire chief was told you can't hire workers for your fire trucks because there's other stuff going on."
Firefighters are currently working overtime, but gaps in coverage remain. Nobody from city hall spoke to News 4 on camera but News 4 was told city officials are trying to come up with a new budget for the fired department after a tax increase was rejected by voters in April.
May 3, 2015 - FIREHOUSE MAGAZINE: Firehouse Magazine has announced their 2014 Heroism Awards. Eight members of the St. Louis Fire Department were among the award recipients.
2014 HEROISM AWARDS: TOP WINNERS 11-13
FIREFIGHTERS FRANK CARTER, LICOLE MCKINNEY & VINCENT SMITH
St. Louis Fire Department, Truck 20-C & Truck 33-C
On Dec. 20, 2014, Firefighters Carter, McKinney and Smith were each headed to work when they came across a single-vehicle accident with three passengers trapped and the engine compartment ignited in flames. Carter and Smith got the assistance of several bystanders to call 9-1-1 and look for bricks or tire irons to break windows, as the doors were either locked or too damaged to open. Once able to access the vehicle through the backseat, Carter removed an unconscious male victim from the backseat and placed him on the street. Carter and Smith entered the backseat to begin extricating a female passenger who was unconscious. When a bystander was able to break the driver's side window, McKinney was able to pull the male driver out of the vehicle. He was unconscious and his clothes were on fire. McKinney patted out the fire with her hands and clothing and left the patient, who had a pulse and agonal respirations, with a bystander who was a nurse. The female passenger's leg was trapped in the floorboard area, and when the flames intensified in this area, she awoke and was able to free her ankle. Carter and Smith then pulled her out of the vehicle. Her hair and clothes were on fire, and Smith patted the fire out with his hands as Carter and McKinney pulled her to safety. Additional units soon arrived on scene and were able to extinguish the fire and render medical care to the victims. While the victims were severely injured, their lives were saved by the courageous actions of Carter, McKinney and Smith, who went above and beyond their call of duty.
CAPTAIN MARIO MONTERO & FIREFIGHTER THOMAS MOORE
St. Louis Fire Department, Rescue Squad 1-B
On Dec. 8, 2014, the St. Louis Fire Department was called to an incident involving a "jumper" on the Eads Bridge. The jumper was atop a high-tension, high-voltage power line tower stretching approximately 130 -150 feet above the Mississippi River. Captain Montero and Firefighter Moore proceeded to the lower portion of the tower near a flood wall. A ground ladder was placed on the flood wall to gain access, and Montero and Moore began to ascend the tower. Upon reaching the top, Montero found a 21-year-old female who was distraught and did not want anyone near her. Through use of a cell phone, Montero conveyed messages from a negotiator on the ground. The female was eventually coaxed to a safer location on the tower and, after several more hours of negotiation, even began descending the tower wearing safety equipment that she insisted on donning herself so that no one would touch her. Halfway down, the female became agitated and began to ascend the tower again. After further dialogue with her, the female descended the tower and was transferred to the care of EMS. Without the combined efforts of all involved, this incident may have had a tragic ending.
2014 HEROISM AWARDS $100 WINNERS
DONALD CHAMP: St. Louis Fire Department
Several units were dispatched to a fire in a three-story home. The owner notified crews that his son was trapped inside. While searching the first floor, Firefighter Champ of Truck 17 found the unconscious victim. The victim was transported to the hospital in serious condition. A week later, fire crews learned that the victim was out of a coma and would make a full recovery.
THOMAS GASKA: St. Louis Fire Department
On May 5, 2014, crews responded to a fire in a one-story frame residence with heavy fire and smoke showing. The initial fire attack controlled the scene and allowed firefighters the opportunity to conduct a primary search that resulted in Firefighter Gaska locating an unconscious civilian victim. Firefighter Cheatham and Captain Koch helped remove the victim from the house. The victim was treated and transported to a local hospital.
JOHN WHALEN: St. Louis Fire Department
At an apartment fire, Captain Bricker and Firefighter Bargen stretched an attack line into the fire, while others conducted exterior truck work. Firefighters Fondren and Whalen followed the hoseline to conduct a primary search. While proceeding deeper into the fire, Whalen heard moaning and soon discovered that Bargen had gone down. Whalen dragged the injured firefighter out of the apartment where patient care was rendered.
"We're having to use more Narcan on each individual patient because the heroin is so strong. As opposed to using one dose, we're using two and sometimes three doses on one patient," Chief Jenkerson said.
The problem isn't just in the city. The chief of the Mehlville Fire Protection District says his crews sometimes run six overdose calls in a day.
Medics with the Metro West Fire Protection District in west St. Louis County have already had to administer Narcan 21 times this year. That's compared to only needing it 28 times in each of the last two years.
The problem is clear, and it's not going away.
"The numbers have gone up in terms of the worst numbers of overdose deaths," Dan Duncan, of the St. Louis chapter of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, said. "In 2014 we had 400 deaths locally in a seven county region and that's the worst yet."
Duncan says it's reached a point where Narcan is a must-have drug for first responders and could change the life of an addict who receives it.
"That's their wake-up call. They get that close to death and that's when they realize I'm in real trouble here and next time I may not be saved. And that's when they go get help," Duncan said.
Duncan was very disappointed when Missouri's legislative session ended without lawmakers passing a bill that would allow anyone in the state to carry and use Narcan. Republican representative Steve Lynch of Waynesville sponsored the bill and says he plans to re-file next year.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction help is available. You can call NCADA's helpline at 314-962-3456 to speak directly to a counselor.
he St. Charles County Ambulance District is kicking off a new program aimed at helping senior citizens beat the summer heat.(Photo: KSDK)
June 3, 2015 - KSDK Dana M Dean, KSDK
It's typically a bad sign when paramedics show up at your door, but it was all for a good cause Wednesday in St. Charles County. The St. Charles County Ambulance District is kicking off a new program aimed at helping senior citizens beat the summer heat.
Paramedics will be going door to door all summer long in St. Charles County and passing out water bottles and informational pamphlets to residents.
Kyle Gaines, spokesperson for SCCAD, said paramedics will be discussing the following points with seniors:
- Checking with your physician to see if any prescriptions taken can cause sensitivity to heat and/or sunlight
- Scheduling errands and appointments for early morning to avoid the hottest part of the day
- Simple changes to diet that can help the body stay hydrated
For more tips on staying safe this summer, visit www.sccad.com.
MONARCH FPD BOOSTS NON-RESIDENT EMERGENCY MEDICAL CHARGES
May 3, 2015 - West Newsmagazine By: Jim Erickson
CHESTERFIELD, MO. - The Monarch Fire Protection District Board has raised the cost of emergency medical service calls charged to non-residents of the district.
On a unanimous 3-0 vote, the board increased the district's rates 15 percent at its May 27 meeting after hearing a presentation from the company it uses to bill and collect for emergency medical services.
Tammy Campbell, senior vice president with Mediclaims, Inc., of Tonkawa, Oklahoma, said Monarch's EMS billing rates are well below both the state average and those charged in the St. Louis area, and much less than what Medicare and Medicaid allow for such services.The district's three-tier billing system is based on the level of service provided. Effective June 1, rates increased from the former charge of $650 to $750 for basic life support calls. New costs for advanced life support and more advanced life support calls (ALS 2) will be $975 and $1,150, respectively, compared with rates of $850 and $1,000 under the old billing schedule.Charges for transportation to hospital emergency care facilities also will increase from $10 per mile to $12.
Monarch will continue its long-held practice of not charging district residents for EMS calls. Based on a projected collection rate of 85 percent, Campbell said the new charges will mean a $41,000 revenue increase for the district during the remainder of the year.
Most of the 911 calls to which Monarch and other fire protection districts respond are for medical emergencies, including motor vehicle injuries.
The board deferred action on rate increases for medical responses requiring little or no care and which often are the result of 911 calls made by persons witnessing an incident and concluding an emergency exists. Collection rates on these so-called "treat and release" cases are low for a number of reasons, Campbell said, including the tendency to put off paying medical bills because doing so doesn't adversely affect a person's credit rating and people's unwillingness to pay for services they didn't request.
Monarch directors will consider the issue later after more data on such incidents is gathered.
A local television news reporter has been hired as liaison officer at the West County EMS and Fire Protection District.
In the newly created position, Sara Dayley, a reporter at KSDK-Channel 5 for the past five years, will focus on community outreach efforts, which the district has identified as an important part of its future activities.
According to West County Chief Ernie Rhodes, Dayley will meet with community groups and organizations to learn about needs that the district can help address, and call attention to and bring more people to Safety House, a facility that emphasizes safety education for children, families and others.
"These efforts are in line with what our long-range strategic plan found the community wanted us to do," Rhodes said.
Dayley's media experience also will be helpful in producing videos to educate the public on safety and emergency medical issues, Rhodes added.
A graduate of Marquette High, Dayley earned a degree in mass communications from the University of Tampa. Her annual salary at West County will be $65,000.
SHREWSBURY, MO. - Shrewsbury Fire Chief William P. Fox has died, city leaders announced late Saturday evening.
Fox, 64, has served in area fire departments for nearly 42 years, according to the announcement sent by the Missouri Fire Service Funeral Assistance Team. He began his career in 1973 in Berkeley, where he became assistant chief, and joined Shrewsbury as chief in 1989, the announcement said.
He called Shrewsbury "a good place to utilize the skills I learned over the years."
"I thought there was an opportunity to better myself and to do a service to the citizens," he said then. He was one of 22 applicants.
Funeral arrangements are pending. For those wishing to stand casket guard, please contact Capt. John O'Laughlin at (314) 324-2653.
May 28, 2015 - KMOX Brian Kelly @brpkelly Michael Calhoun @michaelcalhoun
CHESTERFIELD, MO. - The newest member of the Monarch Fire Protection District board is calling for a truce with the firefighters' union.
Rick Gans was sworn in Wednesday night, replacing Steve Swyers, who resigned on April 20 accusing the other two board members, Robin Harris and Jane Cunningham, of spreading falsehoods, half-truths and misinformation and, he believes, misusing public funds.
The firefighters union has been making similar accusations against Harris and Cunningham. Gans, a fellow fiscal conservative, says it's time for that to stop, "We're doing the work that the voters have unanimously elected us to do, and if it rubs the union the wrong way, it's unfortunate."
Firefighters have accused board members of trying to bust their union, and of spending irresponsibly on attorneys fees. Gans places the blame for much of that spending on the union, "I ask the union to recognize the fact it was up to the union to make an effort to work with the board to stop the fighting, the lawsuits, the grievances."
Gans had previously served on the board, most recently in 2011.
SAINT LOUIS - Congratulations to #EMS Lead Dispatcher Nina Hampton. After 19 years of dedicated service to the citizens of St. Louis, Nina is retiring! Saving the precious seconds, that have no doubt saved so many lives ... Thank you for your service, enjoy retirement!
WENTZVILLE - A firefighter for the Creve Coeur Protection District who lives in Wentzville was in the St. Charles County Jail Sunday night on felony drug chargea. Samuel Saranita, 39, was being held in lieu of $35,000 cash-only bail.
Maj. Paul West of the Wentzville Police Department said that officers on Sunday found "several Mason jars of marijuana and some marijuana that was growing inside the house."
West said police found evidence that Saranita was weighing and packaging the drug.
County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar said that Saranita was charged with cultivating a controlled substance and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.
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, email@example.com
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.