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(CHESTERFIELD) BULLET-PROOF VESTS WILL LINE MEETING ROOM WALL TO PROTECT MONARCH FIRE BOARD, FIREFIGHTERS SAY (Story below) .......

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FATE OF UNIVERSITY CITY FIREFIGHTERS IN HANDS OF CITY MANAGER

April 23, 2014 - West End Word Online

UNIVERSITY CITY - The fate of six University City firefighters remain unknown, their cases still under consideration by City Manager Lehman Walker.

Walker said on April 19 that he expected to come to a decision on the matter "in the next couple of weeks."

The city manager is looking into the case of six firefighters whose picture appeared in recent campaign ads for two city council candidates who ran unsuccessfully in the April 8 election.

The campaign literature shows six firefighters posing alongside a firetruck, four of them dressed in firefighter protective gear. State law allows for first responders to be involved in political campaigns, provided they are off-duty and not in uniform.

Walker will determine what disciplinary action will be taken against the firefighters, if any.

Contract negotiations between University City firefighters, represented by Professional Fire Fighters of Eastern Missouri Local 2665, and city officials has resulted in heightened tensions between the two parties.

Union officials sued the city in the summer of 2013, claiming the city failed to negotiate in good faith. A judge dismissed that case, and the union appealed.

Firefighters let their unhappiness with the city be known when the union supported a slate of non-incumbent council candidates in the April 8 election, including a write-in candidate for mayor. Though several of those races were close, none of the firefighter-endorsed candidates won election.

Following the election, in a memorandum dated April 10, Kurt Becker, vice president of Local 2665, reached out to Mayor Shelley Welsch and councilmen Stephen Kraft, Michael Glickert and Rod Jennings.

"Rather than rise above the rhetoric that can be associated with elections, I allowed myself to be influenced by that atmosphere, and in retrospect I do regret that my comments may have exacerbated the situation," Becker wrote.

"I'm cognizant that there is work that needs to be done to rebuild the relationship between the firefighters and the city. I do hope that you'll see this overture for what it is, and that you'll accept both my apology and the sincerity with which it was given."

In a Facebook posting, Council Member Stephen Kraft responded:

"We all live and work in the same community and I welcome Mr. Becker's letter as a step toward reconciliation."

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BULLET-PROOF VESTS WILL LINE MEETING ROOM WALL TO PROTECT MONARCH FIRE BOARD, FIREFIGHTERS SAY

April 23, 2014 - St. Louis Post Dispatch

CHESTERFIELD - The members of Monarch Fire Protection District's Board of Directors have bought used bulletproof vests from police to help protect themselves during meetings, firefighters said.

"We'd heard rumors about it, and it's been the big running joke around here that they're going to do it, because it's sounded absolutely ridiculous," Capt. Chris Gelven, a shop steward for the firefighter's union, the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2665, said Tuesday night. "But apparently it's actually happening."

The district's board members will not wear the vests, however - the vests will line a half-wall that sits in front of the desk they use at board meetings, Gelven said. The vests are supposed to be installed by the end of the week, Gelven said.

Gelven hasn't heard of any threats against the board members, or Chief Tom Vineyard or Assistant Chief Cary Spiegel, who sit behind the desk at meetings. Board members are President Robin Harris, secretary Jane Cunningham, and treasurer Steve Swyers. Two or three off-duty police officers usually attend the district's meetings to provide protection, Gelven said.

Cunningham, reached Tuesday night, said she could not speak about any security plans and blasted Gelven for doing so. "Anything we have to do to keep our employees or officers safe is obviously private information, and for him to leak any kind of information like that only jeopardizes his safety and those of his colleagues," she said.

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

The union strongly opposed the rehiring of Spiegel, who was fired from the department in 2011 when he was accused of misdeeds. Spiegel was rehired in March as its new assistant chief.

The majority of the fire protection board determined that the misdeeds were "unfounded," according to a statement from the board.

Cunningham pointed out the positive changes the department has made in recent months, including starting drug and alcohol testing of employees, opening collective bargaining to the public, and placing a "transparency portal" of expenses online. The portal does not yet appear to mention the vests.

"There's still a lot of ugly, horrible things going on," said Cunningham. "There's some good things happening in the middle of it."

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WEST COUNTY HOME AND VEHICLE HEAVILY DAMAGED IN 1 ALARM FIRE

April 22, 2014 - West County EMS & Fire Protection District

WINCHESTER - According to the West County EMS & Fire Protection District web site, a one alarm fire caused heavy damage to a residence on Roland Avenue in Winchester. Firefighters from West County and Metro West extinguished the fire. Truck and home were fully involved in fire upon arrival. Occupants reported safe.

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IS THE MONARCH FIRE DISTRICT WASTING MONEY ON SECURITY MEASURES?

April 22, 2014 - KMOV

CHESTERFIELD - News 4 has learned the Monarch Fire Poretection District's board recently bought bullet proof vests so they could protect board members during meetings.

Representatives from a firefighters union have told News 4 that the board recently purchased used Kevlar bullet proof vests from police. The vests will be used to create a bulletproof wall meant to protect board members during meetings.

News 4 attempted to obtain a comment from Board President Robin Harris and Secretary Jane Cunningham but they refused to talk about the wall because all security measures are discussed during closed meetings and are not made public. Currently, a police officer stands guard at board meetings.

Firefighters have told News 4 they understand why a police officer is necessary at meetings, but do not understand why the wall is being built.

"I'm not sure what good it'll even do for them safety wise in the event something were to happen," Chris Gelvin said. "But I can't even imagine what it's going to look like so I'm not sure."

There has been tension between the board and firefighters in the past. In 2011, a deputy chief was fired, but then rehired as assistant chief in March

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TOP FIRE OFFICIALS IN O'FALLON, MO., PLACED ON PAID ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE

O'Fallon, Mo, Fire Chief Mike Ballmann, center, attends a meeting in 2004 along with other fire chiefs from the area. Photo by Huy Mach, hmach@post-dispatch.com

April 22, 2014 - St. Louis Post Dispatch

O'FALLON, MO. - Two top fire officials who filed suit alleging that O'Fallon Fire Protection District breached their employment contracts have been placed on paid administrative leave.

The action against Chief Mike Ballmann and Deputy Chief Randy Sanders took place during a special emergency meeting of the fire board Monday night.

"We are discussing with them the terms and conditions under which they might part ways with the district," said district attorney Neil Bruntrager.

Chief Mike Ballmann and Deputy Chief Randy Sanders were among 10 officers offered buyouts last fall in an effort to trim an organization that Bruntrager said was too top heavy. The goal was to cut three of the 10 positions by Dec. 31.

Five of the 10 officials who were targeted answered the board's request with a lawsuit in early December that asked a judge to ensure they'd get severance pay if they were fired in a cost-cutting move.

Two of the three reductions were met -- one of the spots in the fire prevention bureau was reduced through attrition, and Chief Administrative Officer Scott Avery took the chief's position with the Olivette Fire Department.

That left one position to eliminate, Bruntrager said, and the board recently decided on Sanders'.

Ballmann is being asked to leave because of "a decision to go in a different direction," Bruntrager said. The chief's position would be refilled.

The two officials have until May 12 to make a decision on a termination offer; Bruntrager declined to provide details about it.

Steve Koslovsky, the attorney for Ballmann, Sanders and the other three officers who filed suit, said he viewed the action as a retaliatory act by the board because of the lawsuit.

"It appears now that this board is racheting up the dispute even more by going forward and doing what they did last night," he said.

He said the employments contracts -- which the board terminated Dec. 31 -- had dated back to Jan 1, 2004. They were a move to protect the longtime employees in the event of a politically motivated firing.

"Unfortunately this is exactly what the prior board anticipated might happen if and when a board that was more friendly to the firefighter's union came into power," he said.

Bruntrager described the situation as a difficult one that the board wanted to avoid.

"We tried to do this on a volunteer basis, and we hoped someone would take us up on it," he said. "This is an effort to make sure the district is a good steward of taxpayer money."

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FAMILY ESCAPES HOUSE FIRE IN O'FALLON, MO.

April 21, 2014 - KTVI

O'FALLON MO. - A family made it out safely after a house fire in O'Fallon, Mo. Monday evening.

This happened around 6:20 p.m. Monday in the 600 block of Sundance.

The homeowners told Fox 2 that they heard a popping noise in the garage. They discovered that there was a fire inside the garage.

Everyone inside the home was able to make it out safely.

No word on what caused the fire.

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POLICE, FIREFIGHTERS TRAIN FOR MASS SHOOTING IN ST. LOUIS COUNTY

April 21, 2014 - St. Louis Post Dispatch

ST. LOUIS COUNTY - If a mass shooting occurs in St. Louis County, police and firefighters believe training they're doing now can provide a better outcome.

More than 1,800 police and firefighters in the St. Louis area are participating in a three-month-long training program aimed at preparing them and workers for a deadly mass shooting or terrorist attack.

The Multiple Attack Counter Terror Action Capabilities, or MACTAC, training program is about halfway through it its fourth annual session. This year, county police are conducting the free training inside an unused office building on the St. Anthony's Medical Center complex.

On Monday morning, police opened the session to reporters. The tactics mirror those usually reserved for the department's SWAT team members. All St. Louis County police officers are given the training; police and firefighters from the dozens of city police departments in St. Louis County are invited to participate.

County Patrolman Shawn McGuire, who trains SWAT officers, said this year's focus is to integrate firefighters, to speed up the pace of medical treatment of casualties.

"At the naval shipyard shooting in 2013, it took a lot of time for those medical personnel to get inside the building," McGuire said. "We got with surrounding fire agencies and we said, 'Hey, let's start working together.' That way, if something ever happens in St. Louis, we're working together now just so it's not going to be confusing down the road."

The yearly training program uses different locations around the county, including a former Wellston High School building, the old Missouri Highway Patrol headquarters and a building in Earth City.

About 500 to 600 St. Anthony's employees will role play as victims and learn survival tactics during the weekday sessions, officials said. The training sessions started March 3 and will end May 30. The hospital donated use of the building.

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EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY - FIREFIGHTER/PARAMEDIC

April 21, 2014 - Eureka Fire Protection District

The Eureka Fire Protection District will be accepting Applications and Resumes for the position of Full-time Firefighter Paramedic until April 30th at 4:30pm. Applications are available on line at www.efpd.org or at the District Headquarters 4849 Hwy 109 in Eureka, Monday - Friday between 8am 4:30pm. Application and Resume must be turned into the District Headquarters by 4:30 pm on April 30, 2014.

All applicants must be a licensed Paramedic in the State of Missouri, must be a licensed driver and prior Fire Service Experience is desirable, Documentation of above is required. Applicants must provide current back ground check from the State of Missouri.

The evaluation process will begin 0830 hours on May 6th, 2014 with a written examination; applicants must score 70% on written in order to continue in process. Other process components will take place on May 7th and/or 8th starting at 0800 hours. The Eureka Fire Protection District is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Eureka Fire Protection District Web Site

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ST. LOUIS COUNTY FIRE DISTRICTS KEEPING WATCH OVER NEW 911 DISPATCH CENTER

April 19, 2014 - St. Louis Post Dispatch

ST. LOUIS COUNTY - A new fortress-like dispatching center that soon will house county police and regional state-of-the-art emergency communications also may someday become the nerve center for most of the county's fire and ambulance calls.

Several fire district officials are downplaying the possibility that St. Louis County could swallow fire and ambulance dispatching now handled by Central County Emergency 911.

But County Police Chief Jon Belmar last month told the Board of Police Commissioners that some fire and ambulance districts have shown interest in contracting with the county once the $16.2 million communications center in Ohlendorf West Park opens.

"The police department did not solicit this conversation," Belmar assured the board. "The agencies came to us."

The county is now targeting an August startup for the 32,000-square-foot center along Hanna Road near Ballwin. The new center, built with reinforced concrete walls and blast-resistant windows to withstand a powerful tornado, was originally scheduled to open last summer.

Belmar estimates that nearly 80 percent of the county's fire and ambulance calls will eventually be channeled through a center that will allow dispatchers, police and firefighters across the St. Louis metro area to communicate on an integrated radio system.

The consolidation of police, fire and ambulance dispatch under one roof, Belmar added, could cut emergency response times by almost 30 seconds.

"I would argue that it will save lives down the road," the chief said.

Some fire district officials say they have had problems with Central County 911, which serves 34 fire and ambulance districts in St. Louis County. And yet, fire chiefs warn that a discussion of jumping over to the county is premature.

"I've got 42 years of service in the Spanish Lake Fire Protection District, and I've never had issues that I've experienced in the last six to eight months," said Chief Michael Flavin. "The calls and the engine house are operating just fine. It's communications on the street from our portables to the dispatch center and back where we're getting a lot of static."

After his firefighters had problems communicating with dispatchers during a house fire last month, Flavin said he called a meeting with county officials, the Black Jack and Riverview fire chiefs, cellphone company representatives and Central County's director, Mike Turner, to discuss solutions.

"We have to find a solution immediately for firefighter safety," Flavin said.

Turner says he is aware of concerns from some districts about Central County 911 transitioning from older technology to using GPS data to dispatch emergency vehicles. He said Central County has been upgrading the system since it took over dispatching from North Central County Fire Alarm last fall. He insists dispatching service in the county has never been better.

"We anticipated in the first six months there would be adjustments," Turner said. "We're at that six months now. Anytime you have an expansion of this magnitude, you're going to have changes. I'm proud of what we've done and I'm very pleased with the level of service we're providing."

He said the number of emergency calls dispatched by Central County has quadrupled in the past year. "Calls are getting out much faster than they used to," he said. "While we have more calls, we also have more people."

He said he would be disappointed if agencies now with Central County left in favor of the new communications center, which Turner described as "the Taj Mahal of 911 centers."

Some county fire district officials, however, warn that a discussion about turning communications over to the county is premature.

"We can't make a commitment based on speculation when St. Louis County isn't up and running yet," said Michael Gantner, chief of the Black Jack Fire Protection District.

Gantner's statement captured the prevailing sentiment among the majority of county fire districts. Some are excited about the potential to consolidate dispatching services in one place.

"We want to wait to see the eventual service level and the cost, but we're ready, willing and able to help St. Louis County develop that kind of system," said Terry Loehrer, chief of the Pattonville Fire District. "Everybody we've talked to says it's a much more efficient manner of dispatching to have it in a joint operation."

Loehrer said a faster system could save lives, citing what he said was a three-minute delay in rescuers responding to a single-engine plane crash in Creve Coeur Lake in October 2012. Loehrer said the delay stemmed from 911 calls being bounced among Maryland Heights police, North Central County Fire Alarm (now part of Central County 911) and the Pattonville Fire Protection District. The crash killed the pilot, Russell Hazelton, 78, and his wife, Suzanne, 69, of Town and Country.

"I don't care if it's 30 or 45 seconds, it could mean a lot," he said.

A patchwork of systems sends police, fire trucks and ambulances to emergencies in St. Louis County. Some emergency vehicles are dispatched from municipal law enforcement call centers. Other equipment arrives at a fire or accident scene via Central County Emergency 911. Or an emergency call can be routed from the county police 911 system to Central County.

It is on many of the calls relayed to Central County that Belmar says the time to dispatch a call could shrink to just a few seconds from 30.

Several of the districts served by Central County joined after the dissolution of dispatch agencies for parts of north and south St. Louis County in the past year.

Northeast Fire Protection District Chief Quinten Randolph said he has observed problems with the quality of Central County 911's dispatching service. He believes Central County 911's rapid growth into new territory in north St. Louis County has meant relying too heavily on computers instead of experienced dispatchers who know the area. The result, he says, has meant the wrong mix of equipment being sent to emergencies.

"I think Central County is trying to do a good job, but there are some glitches and we've had some issues," Randolph said. "It's all so new so fast, and with any company that grows 300 percent in call volume in one year, you're going to have some issues."

In February, a Central County dispatcher mistakenly sent firefighters to a Ferguson house instead of a Florissant home that was burning because the homes had identical street names and numbers. Central County pledged to identify all duplicate addresses in the county and work to prevent similar errors.

Randolph was among those who said they would consider services from the county once the new communications center opens. Some chiefs who wouldn't talk on the record said privately that they were reluctant to sign on with the county without knowing how long construction of the new building would take.

"Some of the bigger agencies are anxious to get this thing straightened out," acknowledged Garry Earls, chief operating officer for the county.

Earls said most of the inquiries about switching to county dispatch are directed to him by districts looking to reduce their current communications fees.

Belmar and Earls say the county system will prove more cost effective.

Belmar said his department is already looking toward the day when its dispatchers handle both fire and police calls. Adding fire service would require training of existing dispatchers and perhaps hiring 20 more.

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FATAL FIRE INVESTIGATED IN ST. CHARLES COUNTY

April 19, 2014 - KSDK

ST. CHARLES COUNTY - One person is dead after fire broke out in a mobile home Saturday morning.

The fire happened on Cactus Drive in unincorporated St. Charles County, authorities say.

Fire crews got to the scene around 7 a.m.

A St Charles County deputy was taken to the hospital to get treated for smoke inhalation.

Authorities say they believe the fire started in the bedroom, and was caused by a lit cigarette. They are ruling the fire as accidental.

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FIREFIGHTERS CREDIT SMOKE DETECTORS WITH SAVING FIVE PEOPLE IN HOUSE FIRE

April 17, 2014 - Cottleville Fire Protection District

COTTLEVILLE - Cottleville Fire District officials are crediting working smoke detectors for saving the lives of five people who were sleeping when a fire started in their garage.

The Cottleville Fire Protection District responded to the reported fire in the early morning on Thursday at 70 Madera Court in the Vineyards Subdivision in unincorporated area of St. Charles County.

Firefighters arrived to find heavy fire and smoke visible from the garage and roof of the residence. Firefighters were able to contain the heavy flames to the area involved, however smoke and water damage was throughout the residence.

The five residents, including their 2 year old, had all made it out safely after they were awakened by the smoke detectors. The Cottleville Fire Protection District would like to reinforce the importance of having working smoke detectors.

The presence of operating smoke detectors in this incident assuredly saved their lives. Cottleville Fire officials are advising residents to test their smoke detectors and CO detectors each month to ensure proper function.

The Cottleville Fire Protection District would like to remind their residences that they will provide free of charge, the installation and replacement of battery operated smoke detectors and/or the batteries for our resident families that cannot afford to purchase them.

The total loss and cause of the fire is unknown at this time.

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COMMUNITY RESPONDS WITH PROTEST, PRAISE TO NEW MONARCH ASSISTANT CHIEF

April 14, 2014 - Newsmagazine Network

CHESTERFIELD - Mixed declarations of protest and support regarding the Monarch Fire Protection District's new assistant chief filled the Board of Directors meeting on April 10.

The reaction stemmed from the board's March 26 decision to hire former Monarch employee Cary Spiegel.

Spiegel, and three other Monarch employees, had been dismissed from Monarch after a 2011 lawsuit involving discrimination against female firefighters was filed against the district.

Monarch board member Jane Cunningham said she could not find anything in the court documents that justified the termination of any individuals in Monarch, except one person who had not been dismissed.

"There was nothing, as people have said, there were no lawsuits, there were no judgments against any individuals, and if you read the court documents you'll see that the women actually said they had nothing against any individuals and carefully did not want to name any individuals," Cunningham said.

But board member Steve Swyers said, "To assert that it was the district and no individuals, I find interesting. But I find it ridiculous to assume that there's no individuals culpable in this situation. I really, really do."

During the public comments at the April 10 meeting, IAFF Local 2665 business manager Jeff Proctor presented the board with a vote of no confidence in Spiegel on behalf of the Monarch firefighters, and requested that Spiegel be removed.

"On behalf of the 2,000 men and women of the Professional Fire Fighters of Eastern Missouri IAFF Local 2665, I ask this board, this community, to end this discriminatory and hostile work environment," Proctor said.

Marlyn Flanter, a local resident, told those gathered at the meeting that she finds it hard to comprehend the decision to rehire Spiegel. "Not only was there an original judgment in favor of the plaintiffs in St. Louis County Court, but a second suit that was affirmed by the Missouri Court of Appeals," Flanter said. "By its very nature, these judgments render him not qualified for leadership or management positions."

But Chesterfield Resident Jane Durrell said she "categorically disagrees" with the statements made by Proctor and Flanter.

"I want to take this opportunity to thank the board for serving the citizens of this district. Tonight especially I thank you for appointing assistant chief Cary Spiegel. Congratulations to you on your well deserved return," she said, turning her attention to the new assistant chief.

Local resident Ron Cawood also congratulated Spiegel's appointment.

"We were elated that you found someone with assistant chief Spiegel's credentials," Cawood said. "We're tired of the antics of the firefighters here in the Monarch Fire District."

On April 4, the Missouri Chapter of the National Organization for Women announced through a press release that they were supporting Local 2665's protest of Spiegel's appointment.

"In 2014, we will not be silent while public servants are treated disrespectfully," the release reads. "We demand a public accounting by Robin Harris' Monarch Fire Protection District board, and strongly urge reconsideration of the decision to place Cary Spiegel in any position of authority."

After the meeting, Spiegel said he appreciated the residents' comments, and that he is looking forward to working toward moving the district forward.

"I'm honored to serve as assistant chief and eager to work with the chief to restore faith and confidence in the fire district," he said.

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OFFICIALS INVESTIGATE SUSPICIOUS HOUSE FIRE IN SOUTH ST. LOUIS COUNTY

April 16, 2014 - KMOV

AFFTON - Firefighters were forced evacuate a house in danger of collapsing while battling a blaze in Affton early Wednesday morning.

Authorities say the fire started in an unoccupied home under renovation in the 8500 block of Philo and Gravois around 1:30 a.m.

Officials say they believe someone set the fire because the house's gas and electric were shut off.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation.

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FIRE CAPTAIN AWARDED FIRE SERVICE WRITERS AWARD

April 15, 2014 - Florissant Valley Fire Protection District

FLORISSANT - The Florissant Valley Fire Protection District has many outstanding employees who excel in many different areas. We are truly privileged to have among them Captain Jason Hoevelmann, who assumed the role of the district's Training Officer in 2012 and embraced his role to incorporate more "next generation" aspects of firefighter training into the district's training regimen.

Captain Hoevelmann is also a proponent of professional development and has established many programs for those "coming up the ranks" to be prepared for the next level in their progression as firefighters, engineers, and potential officers.

Finally, Captain Hoevelmann is passionate about fire ground awareness and firefighters being aware of dangers they will face while fighting a fire.

On Friday, April 11, 2014, at the Fire Department Instructors Conference, the largest conference for fire service professionals in the country held in Indianapolis, IN, Captain Hoevelmann was awarded a Fire Service Writers Award for the blogs he's written for FireEngineering.com and FireEMSBlogs.com, as well as his contributions through feature columns in FirefighterNation, FireRescue and Fire Engineering.

"Jason clearly demonstrates the attitude that we're in this to reach the widest possible audience and educate as many firefighters as possible," Tim Sendelbach, editor-in-chief of FireRescue magazine/FirefighterNation.com, says. "Further, he aims his writing squarely at the most influential role in the fire service-that of the company officer."

We here at the Florissant Valley Fire Protection District are extremely proud of Captain Hoevelmann and are lucky to have him as an officer of the district.

Congratulations, Jason!

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MASS CASUALTY DRILL PLANNED IN ST. LOUIS COUNTY

April 14, 2014 - Newsmagazine Network

CHESTERFIELD - Chesterfield Mall will be the scene of a drill for a mass casualty incident on Sunday, May 4, involving 13 first responder agencies, 18 hospitals and some 150 "victims."

The exercise is designed to test the procedures and readiness of health care and first responder organizations to deal with scores of casualties from an unexpected emergency. It's the first large-scale drill of its type held in the area since 1998, Nick Harper, deputy chief at the Monarch Fire Protection District, recently told the district's board of directors.

According to Harper, the incident will be patterned after the terrorist attack last September at a mall in Nairobi, Kenya, where more than 270 people were killed or injured.

Students, parents and teachers from high schools in the area have volunteered to be "victims" and will be wear make-up to simulate various kinds of wounds.

The exercise will begin after the mall closes for the day and will continue until about 10 p.m. A briefing will follow.

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FARMER SUPPORTS LOCAL FIRE DEPARTMENT

April 14, 2014 - Suburban Journals

ST. CHARLES COUNTY - Local farmer Paul Fischer has directed a $2,500 donation to the Orchard Farm Fire Protection District. Funded by America's Farmers Grow Communities, the donation will be used to purchase a rescue saw and personal protective equipment, which will assist firefighters in hazardous conditions. America's Farmers Grow Communities works directly with farmers to support nonprofit organizations doing important work in their communities. The program offers farmers the chance to win $2,500, which is then donated to the farmer's nonprofit of choice.

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RED CROSS HELPS SEVEN FAMILIES AFTER FIRE BURNS UP THEIR HOMES

April 12, 2014 - KMOV

The Red Cross has helped seven families after a fire in Florissant has left them without a place to stay.

The fire broke out at the Heatherton Estates Apartment Complex located in the 6200 block of Kingsfront Place on Saturday.

19 total people were displaced, but no one was hurt during the fire.

Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the fire.

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MONARCH FIREFIGHTER'S UNION REQUESTS REMOVAL OF NEW CONTROVERCIAL CHIEF

April 10, 2014 - KTVI

CHESTERFIELD - Many heated words were exchanged at Thursday's Monarch Fire Protection District board meeting.

It's the first board meeting since newly hired Assistant Fire Chief Cary Spiegel took office. Spiegel is a former Monarch Deputy Chief. His return to the district is controversial, since he was fired in 2011, along with three other Monarch officials, following a gender discrimination lawsuit.

At Thursday's board meeting, the firefighters' union presented the board with a vote of no confidence in this recent hire. The letter includes a request to remove Spiegel, thus removing the threat of a hostile work environment.

However, two out of the three board members who chose to hire Spiegel, along with half a dozen citizens who spoke at this meeting, shared a different narrative. By supporting Spiegel in his new role, they say they are not refuting the court findings. Two of the plaintiffs were awarded damages, but Spiegel was not named in the lawsuit; only the district was. They maintain Spiegel's innocence, and say he was the best candidate for the job. Some, including Monarch Board President Robin Harris, stated that these four officers were fired in 2011, not for discrimination, but because they wouldn't take union orders.

Spiegel started his new job on Monday. Fox 2 spoke with firefighters who said Spiegel's first week on the job has been awkward, especially since several of those who now work under him testified against him during the lawsuit.

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UNIVERSITY CITY FIREFIGHTERS INVESTIGATED FOR POLITICAL INVOLVEMENT

April 9, 2014 - St. Louis Post Dispatch

ST. LOUIS - Six University City firefighters are being investigated for alleged involvement in political campaigns while on duty or in uniform.

The firefighters are displayed in campaign literature for at least two city council candidates, said City Manager Lehman Walker.

"Several residents brought it to my attention and considered it to be inappropriate that firefighters be directly involved in an election," he said. "We believe city employees should be neutral."

This matter comes at a time when representatives of the fire department have been outspoken about city officials and representation of union demands.

According to Missouri statute, first responders can participate in political activity "while off duty and not in uniform."

In one of the recent ads, six firefighters pose in firefighters' protective gear beside a red fire truck with Ward 1 candidate Jeff Hales. A blurb in the ad says Hales will "restore civility and integrity to the city council."

Officials have copies of a similar ad for Ward 2 council candidate Dennis Fuller.

Fuller said by telephone Wednesday that the photograph in his ad wasn't taken in University City, rather at the Pattonville Fire Protection District.

One of the firefighters in question has more than 10 years of experience with the fire department; the others each have four to five years of experience, Walker said.

He said the photographs appear to show a violation, "but we are still investigating it."

He said he will review the matter over the next couple weeks. He said potential punishment ranges from a verbal reprimand to dismissal.

The fire chief and union officials didn't responded to calls for comment Wednesday. At a city council meeting in March, Kurt Becker, district vice president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Eastern Missouri, International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2665, blasted officials for what he said were misrepresentations of firefighter contract demands.

"Alleging that your firefighters demanded a 10 percent raise and that their proposals could not have fit in the budget without a tax increase is a baseless lie," Becker said then.

Last summer, the union sued the council and other city officials, alleging that they failed to negotiate in good faith on a city firefighter contract. The suit was dismissed by a St. Louis County Circuit judge, but the union has appealed.

In Tuesday's election, the union supported Hales and Fuller. Based on the latest results, Hales lost to Stephen Kraft, 924 votes to 902. Fuller lost to Michael Glickert, 795 votes to 680.

Photographs of the losing candidates standing with firefighters weren't available on their websites.

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U CITY FIREFIGHTERS IN CAMPAIGN CONTROVERSY

April 9, 2014 - St. Louis Public Radio

UNIVERSITY CITY - The most controversial development on Election Day may have come when six University City firefighters were told that they were losing their jobs due to their appearance in a campaign photo, according to the union's vice president.

"[This occurred] despite the fact that they were off duty, not in University City, not in front of a UCFD fire truck, not in uniform, and not identifiable in any way as employees of University City," Kurt Becker of local 2665 wrote in an email to University City Mayor Shelley Welsch. Becker said it was a tremendous concern.

Missouri statute states:

67.145. No political subdivision of this state shall prohibit any first responder, as the term first responder is defined in section 192.800, from engaging in any political activity while off duty and not in uniform, being a candidate for elected or appointed public office, or holding such office unless such political activity or candidacy is otherwise prohibited by state or federal law.

Lehman Walker, city manager of University City, said the city was "reviewing the situation" and state statute to see if any violation was committed. Walker said the firefighters were not told that they would be terminated. He added that he and the fire chief expected to resolve the situation in the next few days.

Becker has asked the mayor to make a public statement condemning the potential discipline. As of Tuesday evening, he said he had not heard back from the mayor's office.

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6 U CITY FIREFIGHTERS COULD LOSE JOBS OVER PHOTO

April 14, 2014 - KMOV

UNIVERSITY CITY - A recent picture could cause six University City firefighters their jobs.

The six firefighters posed alongside a city council candidate who was backed by the firefighter's union. The picture was taken with a Pattonville fire truck outside of U-City and has been circulating in campaign literature.

On Monday, one of the firefighters in the picture received a phone call from U-City Fire Chief, Adam Long. The firefighter was told that no one in the photo would have their jobs by the end of the week.

According to state statute, first responders are allowed to participate in political campaigns as long as they are not on-duty and not in official uniform. None of the gear in the photo shows U-City patches and was said to be borrowed for the photo.

The U-City attorney is conducting an investigation to determine whether the gear in the photo originated from any of the U-City firehouses.

Union Vice President Kurt Becker says the union will consider legal action against U-City if the firefighters are left jobless.

When asked if the incident is an offense worthy of termination, the U-City Chief Long stated "There is a whole range of disciplinary actions available if there are violations and we're still in the process of trying to determine that."

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ST. LOUIS AREA VOTERS TURN OUT TO SUPPORT SCHOOLS AND FIREFIGHTERS

April 9, 2014 - St. Louis Post Dispatch

ST. LOUIS COUNTY - Across St. Louis County on Tuesday, voters approved millions of dollars in tax increases and bond issues to support their firefighters and schools.

All five county fire protection districts with proposals on the ballot were successful: Black Jack, Creve Coeur, Metro-North, Northeast Ambulance and Riverview.

Metro-North and Riverview, two North County districts, had said they were operating with budget deficits because of dwindling property values. Metro-North asked voters for a 39-cent tax increase, while Riverview requested a 44-cent increase.

"Sixty-three percent," said David Volz, vice president of the union representing Metro-North Firefighters, noting the victory. "That's a pretty good determination that they still love us."

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NORTH COUNTY FIREFIGHTER PROMOTED TO CAPTAIN

April 8, 2014 -

SPANISH LAKE - Congratulations to Firefighter John Schroeder on being promoted to Captain with the Spanish Lake Fire Protection District of St. Louis County.

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NEW FIRE CHIEF IN ST. LOUIS COUNTY

April 8, 2014 -

OVERLAND - Congratulations to Chief Joe Schmidt who was sworn in by the Board of Directors on April 7th as Fire Chief in the West Overland Fire Protection District of St. Louis County.




MAN DONATES STUFFED ANIMALS TO STL FIRE DEPARTMENT

April 7, 2014 - St. Louis Firefighters Community Outreach

ST. LOUIS - The St. Louis Fire Department received quite the inspirational gift this morning! Mr. Chris Brock, of Baldwin MO, decided that for his 40th birthday (last month), he'd ask all his friends to bring him stuffed animals as birthday gifts. Chris wanted to help "children that have nothing" after a fire or other emergency! Chris, who has been diagnosed with autism, was all smiles as Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson graciously accepted the gift. And it so happens that "April" is National Autism Awareness Month.

Here is the link to KSDK's video.

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THE MISSOURI CHAPTER OF THE NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN ISSUES STATEMENT ON MONARCH'S ASSISTANT CHIEF

April 4, 2014 -

CHESTERFIELD - The following is a statement released by The Missouri Chapter of the National Organization for Women regarding the hiring of Cary Spiegel as Assistant Chief For the Monarch Fire Protection District:

The Missouri Chapter of the National Organization for Women joins the Professional Firefighters of Eastern Missouri Local 2665 in protesting the decision by the Monarch Fire Protection District Board of Directors to hire former Deputy Chief Cary Spiegel as Assistant Chief.

Having been fired by the Fire District in 2011, after the Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed judgments against Monarch in favor of two female employees who had brought a gender discrimination law suit against the District naming Spiegel, third in command at that time, and others as complicit in actions of gender discrimination and creation of a hostile work environment, makes Spiegel, by definition, inappropriate for any managerial position. Aware that he has maintained his innocence, we assert that if not complicit, he would have had to have been clueless as to what was going on throughout his department, for discrimination and a hostile work environment to have flourished. Neither alternative is acceptable.

Though Monarch Board President Robin Harris says his education and experience make Spiegel the most qualified candidate for Assistant Chief, his accusers have maintained that he was complicit in the abuse leading up to the 2011 judgment. Experience and education are only two among many factors that make a candidate qualified for a position. Spiegel will have neither the respect of the firefighters nor the confidence of the public. We find it extraordinary, as well, that Chief Tom Vineyard, to whom Spiegel will directly report, was not included in the selection process for his own Assistant Chief.

Firefighters, indeed all workers, deserve dignity, supportive working environments, and freedom from discrimination. In 2014, we will not be silent while public servants are treated disrespectfully. We demand a public accounting by Robin Harris' Monarch Fire Protection District board, and strongly urge reconsideration of the decision to place Cary Spiegel in any position of authority.

Sue Gibson

Missouri Chapter, National Organization for Women

Monarch Community Outreach

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EMERGENCY RESPONDERS PREPARE FOR SEVERE WEATHER

April 3, 2014 - KTVI

ELLISVILLE - Local emergency management operations brought in additional staff in anticipation of the severe weather Thursday. Metro West Fire Protection District in Ellisville activated its emergency operations center in the basement of a fire house. Central County Emergency 9-1-1 Dispatch switched to an 'incident command' protocol to be prepared to handle multiple emergency calls in a short period of time.

Both agencies want to be proactive. Lessons learned from the tornado in Joplin and several recent ones in the St. Louis area including the tornado that struck Lambert Airport have helped managers change procedures and increase efficiency.

Michael Turner, Executive Director of Central County Dispatch credited the increased accuracy of meteorologists who are able to better predict the weather. 'We knew yesterday this was going to happen,' Turner said. 'Years ago we knew it might rain or storm, but now they are getting very efficient at knowing what storms are going to come and what the storms are going to be.'

Metro West Fire District staff has been monitoring the rainfall over the past few days and anticipated there would be a need for some high water rescues. Thursday afternoon commanders reached out to nursing homes and senior living complexes to be sure emergency plans were in place.

Metro West Deputy Chief John Bradley calls the approach 'leaning forward.' 'It`s a newer model for us. We want to deliver the service we`ve promised to our citizens.' The operations command center provides department leaders with weather radar, a constant update of emergency calls and staffing levels. They have the latest in communication equipment and all the department's facilities have generators to provide back-up power.

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FIREFIGHTERS/PARAMEDICS FROM MONARCH ATTEND FUNERALS OF BOSTON FIREFIGHTERS

Monarch Firefighters Captain Stecko, EMS Captain Shoop, Private Marshall and Private Shoop

April 1, 2014 - Chesterfield Patch News

ST. LOUIS - A somber team of firefighters and paramedics from the Monarch Fire Protection District in Chesterfield are attending funeral services this week in Boston to honor two members of the Boston Fire Department killed in the line of duty when an explosive fire trapped the men a four-story building on March 26.

"We are here to pay our respects and honor our brave brethren who died horrific deaths while doing their jobs," said Andrew Shoop, firefighter/paramedic with the Professional Firefighters of Eastern Missouri Local 2665 serving the Monarch District.

"This is a sad day for the families of our fallen comrades and for every firefighter/paramedic across America, yet it is a day of glory because those brave men died as heroes," Shoop said.

An estimated 10,000 firefighters from across the nation are in Boston this week to mourn the deaths of Boston Fire Department Lieutenant Edward J. Walsh Jr. of and Firefighter Michael R. Kennedy.

"Times like these remind us and citizens whom we serve that firefighting is a profession that can kill at any moment, robbing people of their friends and family," said Shoop. "Our Monarch team is proud to be members of the Professional Firefighters of Eastern Missouri Local 2665 who serve people in the Chesterfield, Missouri region and proud to pay our respects to the Boston Fire Department and their fallen heroes."

The two men died battling an inferno that tore through a Boston apartment building, causing a fiery explosion that trapped them in the basement where they desperately called for help as their water ran low despite frantic attempts to save them. "The fire escalated very quickly; in 30 years, I've never seen a fire travel that fast, escalate that quickly, and cause such havoc." said Boston Deputy Fire Chief Joseph Finn.

Fanned by wind gusts, the nine-alarm fire in Boston blasted up from the basement of the four-story apartment building, triggering a powerful explosion that sent people running and screaming into the street. Authorities said the cause of the fire remains under investigation, but that wind blowing off the Charles River caused it to rage out of control within minutes, engulfing the Beacon Street neighborhood in a thick cloud of black smoke.

The Monarch Fire Protection District and its Firefighters/Paramedics serve approximately 63 square miles across large parts of Chesterfield, Ballwin, Clarkson Valley, Creve Coeur, Maryland Heights and Wildwood, plus parts of unincorporated St. Louis County, Missouri.

For more information, contact Andrew Shoop at 636 278 0279 or Andrew T. Stecko at 636 368 6123.

Professional Firefighters of Eastern Missouri Local 2665

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CUNNINGHAM TO STAY WITH MONARCH FIRE DISTRICT

March 31, 2014 - Newsmagazine Network

CHESTERFIELD - Former State Senator Jane Cunningham has chosen not to return to the Missouri State Senate, instead opting to continue her work on the Monarch Fire Protection District's Board of Directors.

According to Cunningham, the Republican Party had recently arranged a meeting between her and State Rep. Dave Schatz (R-District 111), who had already filed for the 26th Senatorial District. Cunningham said that this was done to see if either she or Schatz would agree to step back, in order to eliminate the need for a primary.

"He was unwilling at all to step back from his decision to run," Cunningham said.

According to Cunningham, the main reason behind her decision was to save Republican Party supporters from being strained by an unnecessary primary.

"I felt like the party is more important and governing in the state is more important than burdening donors anymore," Cunningham said.

Cunningham said that originally, she had been drawn toward returning to her former position for several reasons, one being that she felt her expertise on issues currently circulating through the legislature, including education reform and labor management issues, would be beneficial.

Now, Cunningham said, her work with Monarch will have her undivided attention.

"Obviously I will stay with Monarch," Cunningham said. "That was always a priority of mine and will continue to be."

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NEIGHBOR PULLS WOMAN OUT OF BURNING HOME

March 30, 2014 - KTVI

ST. LOUIS COUNTY - Fire destroyed a South County home that had spanned generations.

The loss was heartbreaking.

Still, the victims were grateful, an alert neighbor may very well have saved a life.

It happened at the Dallas family home around 4:30 Saturday afternoon on Baptist Church Road near Ronnie's Cinema.

A group of neighborhood boys watched as a family home for nearly 30 years seemed to melt.

"There was a lot of smoke. Every once in a while you could see flames shoot up from the back of the house and stuff," said Max Downs, 12.

"I was getting text messages going fire, fire, emergency, emergency," said neighbor, Sue Kasten.

She was at work. She sensed the danger from those messages, though most neighbors had no idea of the true scope of the emergency.

The fire started in the bathroom, firefighters said.

Lori Dallas said her mother, Helen, 75, was home alone. One moment she smelled smoke. The next moment it was all around her.

"I know the grandma [Helen Dallas] said she opened the door to the bathroom she was laying down. She opened the door to the bathroom inside it was full of fire. She closed the door again," Kasten said.

Lori Dallas feared her panicked mother would have likely retreated to her bedroom but just then, another neighbor came and got her out of the house.

The family's three dogs were rescued, too, Lori Dallas said.

The fire broke out just after Lori had left to take her young granddaughters to the movies.

Once out of the house, Helen Dallas stayed at Kasten's home, Mehlville firefighters doused the flames.

One firefighter treated for a minor burn.

"I'm surprised everybody made it out ok. I'm so thankful for that," Kasten said. "Thank God the girls were not there with them at the time the fire started. They got the dogs out so she was happy. That's what the grandma said, 'my dogs!'"

Investigators had yet to say exactly how the fire started. They believed the cause was accidental and the home a total loss. The American Red Cross is assisting the family with shelter, clothing and food.

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MONARCH FIREFIGHTERS REACT TO HIRING OF ASSISTANT CHIEF

March 28, 2014 -

CHESTERFIELD - Monarch Fire Protection District firefighters and paramedics issued the following statement in reaction to the Board of Directors hiring of the new Assistant Fire Chief:

Monarch Firefighters and Paramedics are astounded that in a 2 to 1 decision the Monarch Fire Protection District Board of Directors have chosen to hire former Deputy Chief Cary Spiegel as our new Assistant Chief.

Mr. Spiegel was fired by the Fire District on November 19, 2011, after the Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed judgments against Monarch in favor of two female employees who had brought a gender discrimination law suit against the District that named Cary Spiegel, Leslie Crews, Michael Davis and one other command officer in the lawsuit.

The decision to re-hire former Deputy Chief Cary Spiegel after he was terminated following a gender discrimination lawsuit will generate a hostile environment within the District.

We are baffled as to why Board Secretary Jane Cunningham and Board President Robin Harris made the majority vote to reinstate Cary Spiegel. A command position such as Assistant Chief requires respect. Monarch Firefighters and Paramedics and many citizens in the communities that we serve have lost all respect for Cary Spiegel.

This is a careless decision by Jane Cunningham and Robin Harris that could pose very negative outcome for employees and citizens of the Monarch Fire Protection District. We demand careful reconsideration and a full explanation, as to why Cary Spiegel should be rehired, especially to a command position.

Monarch Firefighters and Paramedics will continue monitoring the situation over the weekend and by Monday will have a plan in place to possibly take legal action to prevent such a detrimental decision by the board. We will be evaluating the best ways to represent our membership and the two female employees, (previously involved in the matter) and currently still employed at Monarch.

Andrew T Stecko
3rd District Vice President
Professional Firefighters of Eastern Missouri Local 2665

Monarch Firefighters and Paramedics

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SPIEGEL NAMED AS NEW ASSISTANT FIRE CHIEF FOR MONARCH

March 28, 2014 - Newsmagazine Network

CHESTERFIELD - The Monarch Fire Protection District's Board of Directors has named Cary Spiegel as its new assistant fire chief.

In a press statement released on Friday, March 28, Spiegel is cited as having met and exceeded all the requirements needed for a command position. The release goes on to say that "Mr. Spiegel possesses the skills, background and integrity to be an excellent Assistant Chief in leading the District into the future." Prior to the announcement of Spiegel as assistant chief, Captain Chris Gelven, shop steward of Local 2665, had said the union had some concerns with the upcoming appointment.

"We feel like, based on the things that have happened and that we've heard about, this is going to be nothing more than a political appointment," Gelven said.

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PROMOTION TO DEPUTY FIRE CHIEF

March 28, 2014 -

ST. LOUIS - Today, Fire Chief & Commissioner Dennis Jenkerson promoted Battalion Chief Ken Smith to the rank of Deputy Fire Chief, effective immediately.

A 35-year veteran of the St. Louis Fire Department, Deputy Chief Smith has commanded Battalions across St. Louis for the last 17 years. With his promotion to Deputy - the second highest rank in the department - Chief Smith assumes city-wide command of the C-shift.

Please join us in congratulating Chief Smith on his promotion.

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CHIEF MARLO SELECTED AS ACADEMY CLASS HONOREE

March 28, 2014 -

ST. LOUIS COUNTY - Congratulations to Wentzville Fire Chief Mike Marlo on being selected and honored as the 92nd St. Louis County Fire Academy Class honoree . Chief Marlo was chosen for his past accomplishments, achievements, and contributions to the fire and EMS service. He addressed the recruits as the keynote speaker at their graduation ceremony this week.

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EMBATTLED MONARCH FIRE DEPARTMENT HIRES NEW ASSISTANT CHIEF

March 27, 2014 - KTVI

CHESTERFIELD - Controversy continues in the Monarch Fire Protection District over the appointment of a new assistant chief. Relations between the board members and unionized firefighters have been on thin ice ever since an April election changed the board's makeup.

The assistant chief for this west St. Louis County fire department stepped down on March 9th. Since then, Monarch board members have quickly worked to replace him. But Monarch firefighters are deeply concerned about two candidates they claim are on the list. They say both were fired from previous posts.

One was terminated from Wentzville's fire department; the other was a deputy chief fired from Monarch over gender discrimination.

Monarch Fire Captain Chris Gelven says, "One of the big concerns is that two of the females that were harassed still work here at the district, and they're considering hiring this person who created a hostile work environment."

Gelven, who serves as a union shop steward, says firefighters are also upset that no internal candidates made the final rounds: "We have several guys who applied who have many years of experience, over 35 years of experience each, and I know for a fact that they didn't get to any final interview, from word of mouth from them, and that's a shame."

When it comes to the candidates, Monarch Board President Robin Harris will neither confirm nor deny who applied: "Only the HR officer and the board were aware of the list of applicants."

But Gelven insists, "Anything around town gets around, when somebody's doing an interview, people talk."

In a closed session before Wednesday's public meeting, the board chose the new assistant chief, but his identity won't be released until he officially accepts the job. "Certainly not later than Monday evening, we'll have the answer," Harris says.

As for the firefighters, Gelven adds, "I guess our hope is that whoever is picked, it's not a political appointment, and it's somebody that we can work with and move the district forward in a positive manner."

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FIREFIGHTERS UNION OFFICIAL BLASTS UNIVERSITY CITY OFFICIALS

March 25, 2014 - St. Louis Post Dispatch

UNIVERSITY CITY - Upcoming municipal elections and a lawsuit pitting firefighters against city officials provided the backdrop for a verbal assault Monday night against the mayor and two members of the City Council by a firefighters union official.

At the regular council meeting, Kurt Becker, district vice president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Eastern Missouri, International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2665, demanded that Mayor Shelley Welsch muzzle Councilmen Stephen Kraft and L. Michael Glickert, both of whom Becker said had been misrepresenting firefighter contract demands.

"Alleging that your firefighters demanded a ten percent raise and that their proposals could not have fit in the budget without a tax increase is a baseless lie," Becker told Welsch.

Neither the mayor nor the councilmen responded to Becker's charge that city officials had been overstating firefighter demands for a new contract for the next fiscal year.

The union last summer sued the council and other city officials, alleging that they failed to negotiate in good faith on a city firefighter contract. The suit was dismissed by a St. Louis County Circuit judge, but the union has appealed.

The union has endorsed a slate of municipal candidates who are seeking four-year council terms April 8. According to the union's web site, the union is backing Jeff Hales against Kraft in the city's first ward, Dennis Fuller against Glickert in the second ward and BWayne Smotherson, who is running for a seat in the third ward to replace Councilman Byron Price, who is not seeking re-election.

Mayoral write-in candidate Steve McMahon, who claims the support of the firefighters union, spoke after Becker and criticized city officials for trying to block his candidacy, which he said meets all statutory requirements.

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LOWER PROPERTY VALUATIONS PLAY ROLE IN MONARCH FIRE DISTRICT REVENUE DECLINE

March 25, 2014 - Newsmagazine Network

CHESTERFIELD - Although no one is pushing a panic button, members of the Monarch Fire Protection District board are looking carefully at the district's financial situation and what the future may hold.

The issue arose at the board's March 13 meeting when directors considered and unanimously approved a resolution amending the 2013 budget to align it with year-end results. Among other things, the year saw a drop in tax revenues. In response to a question from Director Jane Cunningham about whether the decline was due to a drop in the assessed value of property in the district or because more people had protested their taxes, Michelle DePew, Monarch's controller, said both factors played a role.

In light of those factors, Director Steve Swyers posed three issues he believes merit further examination - whether the district's financial reserves are adequate, whether budgeted expenditures can be cut further without harming service, and developing a plan to manage capital expenditures. On the final point, Swyers suggested a management-employee team be formed to determine the district's capital expenditure needs and priorities and how they could be met.

No action was taken on Swyers' recommendations but Board President Robin Harris said Monarch's reserves now are 44 percent of the current budget, compared with the 40-percent level current board policy has targeted as a minimum.

On a different, but related, front, the board asked Chief Tom Vineyard (right) to submit a monthly report detailing the use of Kelly days - time off scheduled to avoid payment of overtime. A recently approved board policy officially abolished Kelly days but calls for granting the time off if doing so doesn't result in having to call in a replacement employee who is paid overtime.

Overtime payments in 2013 were substantially less than in 2012.

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EMERGENCY DISPATCHING SERVICES CONTINUE TO BE TOPIC OF DISCUSSION ACROSS ST. LOUIS COUNTY

March 25, 2014 - Newsmagazine Network

ST. LOUIS - If it weren't for the fact that lives, as well as tax dollars, are involved, the ongoing saga of what the fate of Central County Emergency 911 will be could be likened to a soap opera. Its storyline certainly has enough twists and turns.

The latest development was a 3-3 vote and therefore the defeat of a resolution that the CCE board form a special committee to consider a business relationship on dispatching services with the St. Louis County Emergency Communications Commission.

The decision was one of number of votes taken during a more than three-hour, closed-door session at a March 12 special board meeting. In a brief question-answer session after that and other decisions were announced, several board members from both the yea and nay sides of the resolution emphasized that CCE employees are doing an exceptional job.

At an earlier meeting, employees had expressed concerns about their jobs due to questions and issues being raised about the dispatch center's future. CCE receives 911 calls for fire and emergency medical help for most of St. Louis County and parts of adjoining counties. It then dispatches personnel and equipment from the fire and ambulance operations that use its services.

During the past 15 months, the Ellisville-based operation has spent heavily to add equipment, communication links and personnel to handle dispatching duties formerly provided by financially troubled centers in the north and south county areas - an expansion projected to quadruple CCE's emergency call volume.

Meanwhile, the county ECC has been continuing work on what's now a nearly complete communications center (above) in Ohlendorf Park West, on Hanna Road south of Big Bend Road in West County. Although intended primarily for handling police-related 911 calls and with county and ECC officials earlier stating no interest in getting into the fire and emergency medical dispatching business, that direction now appears to be changing.

Garry Earls, St. Louis County's chief operating officer and a member of the ECC, recently said that sooner or later the new operation will have a fire and EMS dispatching capability. There are other small dispatch operations in the multi-county, bi-state area the ECC covers that are likely to turn to the ECC facility in order to provide a higher quality service, he explained.

"But we're not marketing that (fire and EMS dispatching) service now and we don't want to put anyone out of business," Earls affirmed.

Regardless, three CCE user-owners - the Creve Coeur, Maryland Heights and West County EMS and fire protection districts - have approved resolutions stating their intent to consider having dispatch services provided by the new ECC operation.

The resolutions also say the districts' severance with CCE hinges on whether differences between its user-owners can be resolved. At various times, CCE governance and management issues have been cited as reasons for the discord.

Two other CCE user-owners - Metro West Fire Protection District and Meramec Ambulance District - also have asked to withdraw their ownership status, but have indicated no plans to seek dispatching services elsewhere.

David Casey and Tim Flora, who represent Meramec and Metro West, respectively, on the CCE board joined with joined with Jane Cunningham, who represents the Monarch Fire Protection District, in opposing the resolution calling for the special committee. Favoring the motion were David Cobb, Tom Carter and Cathy Keeler, who represent West County, Maryland Heights and Creve Coeur on the board.

Earls said the county has made no proposals to CCE.

"Right now, we're just sitting and waiting to see what may happen," he said. However, according to wording in the defeated resolution, ECC representatives approached CCE about forming a committee to consider a business relationship for dispatching services. The resolution does not identify the individuals involved.

While the ECC and St. Louis County work closely together and Earls' responsibilities place him in both camps, the commission is a separate entity chaired by retired Florissant Police Chief Bill Karabas. Two of the seven ECC members are Jack Trout and Greg Brown, chiefs of the Frontenac Fire Department and Eureka Fire Protection District, respectively. Both the Frontenac and Eureka operations use CCE's dispatching services.

Although the resolution failed, several CCE board members, including Casey and Cunningham who opposed it, stated their willingness to consider any formal proposal the county and/or the ECC might want to present.

Cunningham expressed a similar sentiment in remarks she made to the St. Louis County Council the day before the CCE board meeting. However, she also questioned why "heavy pressure" was being placed on CCE to adopt the resolution and said there was no reason for the ECC to duplicate fire and emergency medical dispatching services that the Ellisville center already is providing and "which is working marvelously well."

She also questioned any suggestion that the CCE should be closed and used only as a backup. The ECC facility is "mainly above ground in tornado alley" while the Central County operation is underground and built to withstand the most severe tornados, she observed.

Cunningham called for an investigation into why the CCE board was being pressured to approve the resolution before the upcoming elections when the county executive position will be on the ballot.

In remarks before the CCE board meeting, West County's Cobb said he didn't believe the resolution was designed to force anything. Instead, he interpreted it as calling for a consensus on the idea of discussing various options for CCE's future.

"Any decision beyond that would be premature at this point," Cobb observed. "We're simply at the information-gathering stage. And I think we (the CCE board) owe it to the taxpayers and the fire and ambulance operations we serve to look at all the facts and consider all the options before we make any kind of ultimate decision."

At the board meeting, Cobb also agreed that CCE employees are doing a good job. But he advised against adopting a view that the operation is "the best."

"When any business adopts the attitude that it's the best, it is less likely to look for ways to improve. And there always will be ways to improve," he observed.

Other actions taken during the closed meeting and announced when the public session resumed involved a variety of hiring and vendor contract issues. One of those, approved on a unanimous vote, called for hiring four additional dispatchers to replace two persons who recently resigned and two others to bring staffing up to an industry-recommended level.

The staffing issue had been debated and tabled earlier due to budget concerns and questions about the need for more personnel.

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To the Editor
STL Metro Fire News.com
March 23, 2014

Dear Sir:

As a Chesterfield resident for 27 years served by the tax-payer supported Monarch Fire Protection District in St. Louis County, I am very concerned by what I observe to be questionable management and political cronyism by the Monarch Board of Directors.

On Thursday, March 13, citizens learned that the Monarch Fire Protection District exceeded its 2013 budget by $725,000 that includes more than $400,000 for legal fees and board member indemnification insurance, a type of insurance no other fire district board in greater St. Louis has felt the need to acquire.

This overage amount includes about $230,000 in fees paid to two attorneys who contributed cash to the Board election campaigns of Monarch Board President Robin Harris and Board Secretary Jane Cunningham.

This political cronyism is one reason why the Monarch District is woefully over budget and many Chesterfield citizens are outraged. It is important to note that all Monarch Fire Protection District budget items in 2013 managed by Monarch fire chief officers -- not by the Board -- were under budget, including for building maintenance, overtime and firefighter/paramedic salaries.

In announcing on March 19 that she will not run for the post of St. Louis County Executive, Ms. Cunningham said the District has "made major strides in cleaning up a fire district badly in need of it" since she was elected to the board last year. Ms. Cunningham is taking credit for improvements and cost efficiencies that Monarch Firefighters/Paramedics initiated before she was elected to the board, including for worker's compensation claims.

In truth, worker's compensation claims in the Monarch Fire Protection District have significantly decreased since 2010 -- from 49 total claims in 2010 to 43 total claims in 2012 - with comparative reductions in related total costs totaling $730,338 - a cost reduction of more than 63 percent.

Moreover, as of May 15, 2013, Monarch's total worker's compensation premium costs declined by more than 15 percent compared to those in 2012 while, at many other fire protection districts in greater St. Louis, premium costs skyrocketed. In another local fire protection district, for example, total worker's compensation premium costs increased by more than 67 percent in the comparable period for 2012 and May 2013. (Source: MoFAD data for 2012-2013). These and other improvements occurred after the April 2011 Monarch board election, when Steve Swyers was elected to the board and he began to introduce new policies and programs.

As a St. Louis County citizen who relies on emergency services bravely provided by District firefighters and paramedics, who respond to more than 6,500 emergency calls per year, I am concerned and disappointed with the Board's current budget excesses and cronyism politics.

When I learned that the Monarch board exceeded its 2013 budget by $750,000 including money to pay for the services of lawyers who donated to both Cunningham's and Harris' election campaigns, I began to wonder how these elected officials -- who claim to serve to our citizens with integrity -- can validate the need for expenditures including for obvious "political payback."

In response to the District's $725,000 budget overage, Ms. Cunningham used Twitter to simply announce "Tax revenues down in county. Monarch leaders committed to calling on staff to join us in finding savings to live within our means."

That is a paltry explanation. Perhaps Ms. Cunningham is too busy to respond to voters who elected her to the Monarch Fire Protection District Board. After all, she admits she is now seriously considering running for the state Senate in Missouri's 26th District.

Before running for another political office, Ms. Cunningham should address the political cronyism and budget excesses that voters will remember as her legacy at the Monarch Fire Protection District.

Russell Lake
Chesterfield, Missouri

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OAKVILLE HOME LIGHTS ON FIRE AFTER MAN HITS IT WITH CAR

March 22, 2014 - KSDK

OAKVILLE - A man drove his car straight into the front of his home Saturday morning, hitting a gas meter and causing the two-story house to ignite, police say.

The man was not seriously injured, but he was taken to the hospital for an evaluation. Investigators are trying to figure out what caused the crash, and the Bomb and Arson unit is on the scene.

The home is located at 321 Greycliff Bluff Drive. No other residents were inside when the fire started, but firefighters had to rescue a dog.

No additional information was immediately available.

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BRIDGETON EMERGENCY PLANNERS TO CONSIDER WORST CASE SCENARIOS

March 20, 2014 - KMOX

BRIDGETON, MO. - The weekend fire at the Bridgeton landfill has emergency planners scheduled to meet next week to discuss a worst case scenario namely what they would do if a surface fire erupted threatening to contaminate the area with radiation?

Although Sunday's fire was unrelated to the underground fire and far from the part of the landfill that's near buried nuclear waste, emergency planners will discuss how to approach possible evacuations.

"If the wind direction dictates that the plume is headed in a direction where we know that it's populated with residents or even people that are visiting the area, I can tell you that we will err on the side of caution as opposed to jeopardizing anybody," says Pattonville Fire Protection District Assistant Chief Matt LaVanchy.

The plan includes declaring a Code 1000, which would flood the area with police from surrounding municipalities to knock on doors and carry out the evacuation.

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FIRE DESTROYS BUILDING IN BENTON PARK WEST NEIGHBORHOOD

March 21, 2014 - St. Louis Post Dispatch

ST. LOUIS - A fire destroyed a three-story building in the 2900 block of Texas Avenue in the city's Benton Park West neighborhood Thursday morning.

Firefighters got the call at 11:20 a.m., said St. Louis Fire Department spokesman Garon Mosby.

The firefighters arrived but soon went into a defensive mode because of the severity of the fire, making sure the blaze didn't spread to other building.

The building was undergoing rehab and no one was living in it. No injuries were reported.

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CUNNINGHAM SAYS SHE WON'T SEEK GOP NOD FOR ST. LOUIS COUNTY EXECUTIVE

March 19, 2014 - St. Louis Post Dispatch

CHESTERFIELD - Former state Sen. Jane Cunningham, asked by Republicans to consider running for St. Louis County executive, announced Wednesday that she will not seek the nomination in the August GOP primary.

Cunningham, director of the Monarch Fire Protection District in west St. Louis County, had tweeted to a supporter on Tuesday that she was "coordinating with others" and "there is good news ahead!"

But in comments to reporters on Wednesday after a Monarch board meeting, she revealed that the good news was that Republicans had a different candidate in mind to run for the county's highest office. She said he needed "to be reassured that (he) will not have to face a primary campaign against me in order to reform our wayward county government."

Cunningham would not give away the name of the candidate and said to expect an announcement on Monday. "I want this to be his announcement, his surprise," she said.

She said she had been serious about running but also wanted the publicity about her interest in the position to "prime the Republican pump" for other qualified candidates.

She said the candidate is highly qualified, and well known, but has not run for executive in the past.

"I can't tell you who it is," she said. "Oh, I want to so bad!"

Cunningham said she is considering running for the state Senate in the 26th District, the seat being vacated by Brian Nieves. She said she would announce her decision on Tuesday, the filing deadline.

Cunningham left the senate in 2012 after her district, the 7th, was reconfigured.

She was also a four-term member of the Missouri House from 2000-08.

Green Park Alderman Tony Pousosa and Ellisville Councilman Matt Pirrello are already seeking the GOP nomination for the county post.

St. Louis County Councilman Steve Stenger is challenging incumbent County Executive Charlie Dooley on the Democratic side.

Theo "Ted" Brown Sr. is running unopposed on the Libertarian ticket.

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DRY WEATHER CONTRIBUTES TO 2 HOUSE FIRES

March 19, 2014 - KTVI

ST. PETERS - In a span of less than 16 hours on Tuesday, March 18th, two family homes in St. Peters were damaged from fires caused by careless smokers disposing cigarette butts onto dry grassy areas. In both cases the back of the homes were damaged.

One home on Saint Joan Lane had its deck partially destroyed, and a home on Orton Drive suffered severe damage to the rear of the home.

The St. Charles Central County Fire & Rescue wants to remind smoker to dispose of their cigarette butt properly in dry weather and for everyone to remember that coals from barbeques can ignite fires for up to 24 hours after the fire has gone out.

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FIREFIGHTERS FREE DEER FROM FENCE WITH JAWS-OF-LIFE

March 14, 2014 - KTVI

CHESTERFIELD - Deer keep getting stuck in a Chesterfield fence, and residents who live across the street want it to stop before more animals are hurt or killed.

Dee Bruenger took a cell phone video about a month ago of a deer stuck in this Conway Road fence, freed by the jaw of life.

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FORMER STATE SENATOR TO ANNOUNCE CANDIDACY

March 19, 2014 - KMOX

ST. LOUIS - Former state Senator Jane Cunningham will answer the question, "Are you running for St. Louis County Executive?" at tonight's Monarch Fire Board meeting, where she serves as secretary.

Cunningham hasn't said whether she's running, but she talks as if she will.

"The experience I've had on Monarch Fire Board, has been very instructive to me of reforms that can be used in the county," said Cunningham. "How we can quickly turn around a district that's in disarray."

The last Republican attempting to a run was Bill Corrigan, who lost to incumbent Democrat Charlie Dooley. After what happened to Corrigan, is there a silver lining for Republicans this time around?

"I have been deciding after the urging Republican leaders in St. Louis County, deciding about running for county exec and I will announce that decision tonight," says Cunningham.

She feels that the party has an excellent chance because of highly publicized mismanagement, FBI investigations, corruption and the misuse of money.

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FIREFIGHTER HOSPITALIZED AFTER SUFFERING INJURY WHILE BATTLING BLAZE

March 19, 2014 - KMOV

ST. LOUIS - A firefighter was hospitalized after suffering an injury while fighting a blaze Wednesday morning.

According to fire officials, a home in the 3800 block of Indiana in the Marine Villa Neighborhood caught fire around 7:30 a.m. The outside of the home sustained extensive damage from the fire.

The firefighter was injured while advancing the hose and was taken to an area hospital in serious but stable condition.

One person was home at the time of the fire. Officials say both residents of the home will be displaced as a result of the fire.

Firefighters say that the preliminary cause of the fire was cooking.

No other details were immediately available.

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MONARCH FIREMEN EXPRESS CONCERNS OVER CUNNINGHAM RUNNING FOR OFFICE

March 18, 2014 - KMOX

ST. LOUIS COUNTY - With one week until the filing deadline for the St. Louis County Executive race, some Monarch firemen and paramedics say they've got a lot of concerns about Jane Cunningham running.

Cunningham is the Monarch Fire Board Director. She has publically considered running for the office, but she's still on the fence.

Local 2665 staff representative Andrew Shoop says if she does decide to run, the people of St. Louis County should know that the fire protection district is a quarter of a million dollars in debt-and he says it's mostly Cunningham's fault.

"There's a complete mismanagement in legal fees to the ring of in between $230,000 and $250,000," he says.

He says Cunningham and co-director Robin Harris spent $200,000 on a lawyer and spent $200,000 on indemity insurance.

Cunningham says the fire district's debt is a result of decreasing revenues, and lots of local districts are also in debt.

"With the revenue down all over the county, Monarch is in the same situation as other political subdivisions," she says.

She also says she's not abandoning Monarch.

"It stays my top priority no matter what, and I will not leave Monarch for anything else," she says. "I can do both."

But Shoop questions whether it's legal for Cunningham to do both.

She has until March 25 to file.

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BRUSH FIRE IN O'FALLON, MO. BURNS 1/2 ACRE OF LAND

March 18, 2014 - KMOV

O'FALLON, MO. - Firefighters in O'Fallon, Mo. battled an intense early morning brush fire on Tuesday.

The fire started around 2 a.m. near a residential area in the 700 block of Autumn Valley Drive. According to fire officials, flames from the fire were nearly 8 feet tall when they arrived on the scene.

Approximately one-half acre of land burned before fire crews were able to contain the blaze.

There are no injuries reported.

There is no word on a cause for the fire or if any of the homes sustained damage.

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EARLY MORNING FIRE ENGULFS SOUTH ST. LOUIS COUNTY TOWNHOME

March 14, 2014 - KMOV

FENTON - Firefighters said nobody was injured after a fire broke out at a condo in unincorporated south St. Louis County Sunday morning.

Authorities said the fire started just before 5 a.m. in the 400 block of Summit Tree Court, near Fenton. According to firefighters, the fire started on the deck of the middle unit of a three unit townhome and then spread to the two neighboring condos. The fire engulfed all three units. Close to 40 firefighters were on the scene to put out the blaze out.

Firefighters said it was difficult to fight the flames because of the windy conditions. The investigation is ongoing.

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CENTRAL COUNTY EMERGENCY BOARD STALLS ON TALKS WITH COUNTY

March 14, 2014 - St. Louis Post Dispatch

ST. LOUIS COUNTY - The board governing the Central County Emergency 911 system Wednesday failed to reach a consensus on whether to enter into negotiations with St. Louis County over a possible consolidation of emergency dispatch services.

The measure failed to move ahead after the board deadlocked 3-3 on a proposal to begin negotiations with the county, according to a statement issued by Monarch Fire Protection District Director Jane Cunningham.

The Monarch, Metro-West, Creve Coeur, Maryland Heights West County and Meramec ambulance and fire districts own the Central County system.

Central County in turn dispatches calls for 34 emergency services districts across the county.

The Central County board cannot take action without a majority of votes from representatives of the six owner members.

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DEPUTY FIRE CHIEF RETIRES AFTER 44 YEARS OF SERVICE
Deputy Chief Darryl Zastrow shown on the left, with his son Darryl Jr., who is a paramedic with Christian Hospital Northeast.

March 14, 2014 -

SPANISH LAKE - Deputy Fire Chief Darryl Zastrow will retire on April 21st, 2014 from the Spanish Lake Fire Protection District. His last duty day was yesterday March 13th. Deputy Chief Zastrow has been with the Fire District since 1969 and has served as a Firefighter, Engineer, Captain, Deputy Fire Chief and Fire Marshal over the last 44 years. He also was certified with the State of Missouri as Firefighter I&II, Fire Inspector, and Fire Investigator.

Congratulations to Deputy Chief Zastow for his years of service to the Fire District and Community.

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EUREKA FIREFIGHTER LAID TO REST

March 13, 2014 - KSDK

EUREKA - A Eureka firefighter has been laid to rest.

Greg Light died Friday. He was off-duty when a suspected drunk driver slammed into his car.

Photojournalist Randy Schwentker was in eureka for Thursday's service.

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JANE CUNNIGHAM QUESTIONS ST. LOUIS COUNTY COUNCIL ABOUT FUTURE ROLE OF CENTRAL COUNTY 911

March 13, 2014 - Newsmagazine Network

ST. LOUIS COUNTY - If it weren't for the fact that lives, as well as tax dollars, are involved, the ongoing saga of what the fate of Central County Emergency 911 will be could be likened to a soap opera. Certainly the storyline has sufficient twists and turns.

The latest development had Jane Cunningham, who represents Central County user-owner Monarch Fire Protection District on the CCE board, questioning the St. Louis County Council March 11 about what she described as a "forced agreement to talk" with the county about CCE's future.

CCE receives 911 calls for fire and emergency medical situations for most of St. Louis County and parts of adjoining counties. It then dispatches personnel and equipment from the fire and ambulance operations that use its services.

The next turn could come at the CCE board meeting on March 12 when a resolution authorizing the dispatch center to set up a special committee to discuss the merits of any future business relationship with St. Louis County likely will be discussed.

David Cobb, who represents West County EMS and Fire Protection District on the CCE board, said his understanding of the resolution is that it is not designed to force anything. Instead, he interprets it as calling for a consensus to establish a special committee to discuss various options for CCE's future.

"Any decision beyond that would be premature at this point," Cobb observed. "We're simply at the information-gathering stage. And I think we (the CCE board) owe it to the taxpayers and the fire and ambulance operations we serve to look at all the facts and consider all the options before we make any kind of ultimate decision."

But Cunningham had a different view of where things are headed, noting in her remarks to the county council that "the suggestion is being made to close (Central County) and use it only as a backup if needed, not as the dispatch center which is working marvelously well".

"When one tries to figure out who is driving the pressure, the parties involved point fingers at each other," Cunningham said. "Something doesn't pass the sniff test when there is such an effort to fix something that no one says is broken."

However, three of CCE's user-owners - West County along with the Creve Coeur and Maryland Heights fire protection districts - have approved resolutions stating the intent to consider having their dispatch services provided by the new St. Louis County Emergency Communications Center now nearing completion in Ohlendorf Park West off Hanna Road south of Big Bend. The resolutions also say the districts' severance with CCE hinges on whether the differences between its user-owners can be resolved.

At various times, CCE governance and management issues have been cited as reasons for the discord.

Two other CCE user-owners - Metro West Fire Protection District and Meramec Ambulance District - also have asked to withdraw their ownership status, but they have indicated no plans to seek dispatching services elsewhere.

Garry Earls, St. Louis County's chief operating officer and a member of the Emergency Communications Commission in charge of building the new center, said that sooner or later that operation will have fire and EMS dispatching capability. Aside from the interest expressed by the three CCE user-owners, there are other small dispatch operations in the multi-county area the ECC covers that are likely to turn to the new facility in order to provide a higher quality service.

Adding a full-time staff member to coordinate setting up that fire and EMS dispatching capability has been authorized, Earls said, adding that he didn't know if that hiring has taken place.

"But we're not marketing that (fire and EMS dispatching) service now and we don't want to put anyone out of business," Earls affirmed.

The county has made no proposals to CCE, he said.

"Right now, we're just sitting and waiting to see what may happen," he said.

Cunningham, who is weighing whether to file as a candidate for county executive, pointed to the effort and taxpayer dollars CCE has invested for expansion to handle dispatching duties formerly provided by financially troubled centers in the north and south county areas. She also noted that CCE's operation is below ground and built to withstand the most severe tornados, while the new county facility is mainly above ground.

"Someone needs to investigate why - there is so much pressure to get this (a CCE-St. Louis County agreement) done before the elections for county executive and how much it will cost taxpayers for service they already have," she said.

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FIRE UNION'S BATTLES WITH JANE CUNNINGHAM SPILL INTO PENSION LEGISLATION

March 14, 2014 - St. Louis Post Dispatch

ST. LOUIS - Former state Sen. Jane Cunningham has been at odds with union firefighters since she won a seat on the Monarch Fire Protection District board a year ago.

Now, a Missouri House member with union ties is trying to take away the $16,269-a-year state pension that Cunningham receives for her 12 years in the Legislature.

A one-sentence bill filed by Rep. Keith English would bar all fire protection district directors from receiving public pension benefits. English, a union electrician and a Democrat from Florissant, filed the bill Feb. 12.

The bill has not been referred to a committee and English said in an interview today that he will probably withdraw it.

He called it "a shot across the bow," but he declined to elaborate or say whether it was aimed at Cunningham. He said he has learned since he filed the bill that it would affect at least three former legislators serving on fire district boards around the state.

Cunningham said she had no doubt the bill was aimed at her.

"I figure that's a thank you from the fire union for the reform work I've been doing in Monarch," she said.

Cunningham, a Republican who lost her Senate seat in the 2012 redistricting, said she has been trying to bring "best practices" and businesslike policies to the fire district, which covers parts of Chesterfield, Ballwin, Maryland Heights and Wildwood in St. Louis County.

Her moves have included putting all firefighter salaries into a searchable database on the district's website (monarchfpd.org) and instituting periodic drug and alcohol testing for firefighters, she said.

In the Legislature, Cunningham was known for single-minded pursuit of her goals, such as school choice options. She said a bill threatening her pension won't affect her style.

"I'm not easily intimidated," she said.

Cunningham draws a $1,355 monthly pension from the Missouri State Employees Retirement system. She received a total of $16,269 in 2013.

Even if it passed, English's bill likely would face legal questions. Pensions, once earned, generally cannot be taken away; changes normally affect only benefits that accrue from future service.

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HOUSE BILL 1830 - PDF




MONARCH FIRE DISTRICT DIRECTOR WARY OF DISPATCH SERVICES TALKS WITH ST. LOUIS COUNTY

March 12, 2014 - St. Louis Post Dispatch

ST. LOUIS COUNTY - The Central County Emergency 911 board could decide today on whether to begin talks with the potential to cede some or all of the services provided by the independent emergency communications unit to the upgraded St. Louis County dispatch system.

Monarch Fire Protection District Director Jane Cunningham said it is unclear which way the Central County board will vote.

Cunningham revealed in remarks to the St. Louis County Council on Tuesday evening that a rift has split the districts that govern Central County Emergency.

Central County dispatches calls for 34 countywide fire and ambulance districts.

A board comprising representatives from six districts oversees its business operations.

"For some unexplained reasons, there has been heavy pressure on the Central County board to adopt a strange resolution agreeing to go into talks with the county about the county providing the same services as Central County," Cunningham told the council.

A former state senator, Cunningham is considering a bid for county executive on the Republican ticket.

County Chief Operating Officer Garry Earls acknowledged the county has been approached about integrating some Central County dispatch services with the county's new state-of-the-art emergency communications center.

The outpost, under construction in? West County, is slated to become operational this summer. Earls said discussions with the county were initiated by Central County board members who expressed displeasure over the "governance" of the collective.

The disgruntled board members singled out issues with the Monarch Board in particular, Earls added.

Fire and/or ambulance districts serving Metro West, Creve Coeur, West County, Maryland Heights and Meramec oversee Central County affairs.

Those districts in turn provide dispatches for 34 other ambulance and fire districts across the county.

"We will work with anyone who wants to work with St. Louis County," said County Executive Charlie Dooley.

Cunningham also said she is not averse to discussing the possibility of a shared service arrangement with the county.

"I'm open to talking about anything," she said after the meeting. "But it's moving at a high-pressure pace that just doesn't feel right."

The Central County board meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m.

Cunningham said the vote will be held in closed session but will be announced publicly after the meeting.

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CONGRATULATIONS TO CHIEF ROBERT COREY ON HIS RETIREMENT!

March 11, 2014 - Florissant Fire District

FLORISSANT - Chief Corey retired today after 35 years of service to the Florissant Valley Fire Protection District. Prior to serving at the fire district, Chief Corey was a police officer with the Florissant Police Department and the St. Louis City Police Department. Chief Corey also served our country as a Marine during the Vietnam War. Thanks for all your years of service and dedication to the Fire District and the community. You will be missed. We would also like to thank all those that stopped by the Open House today to wish Chief Corey well.

Florissant Fire District Face Book

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LEGAL BATTLE RESUMES OVER CHANGES TO PENSIONS FOR ST. LOUIS CITY FIREFIGHTERS

March 11, 2014 - St. Louis Public Radio

ST. LOUIS - The Missouri Court of Appeals will hear arguments tomorrow on whether the city of St. Louis had the right to make changes to the pension benefits it offers its firefighters.

In lobbying for the changes in 2012, Mayor Francis Slay cited the financial burden pensions were beginning to place on the city. Its budget for fiscal year 2013 included a $31 million contribution to the system, up from $23 million the year before.

That argument persuaded aldermen to increase the amount of money current firefighters had to pay into the system - nine percent as opposed to eight percent, and without a refund at retirement. Firefighters were also no longer able to retire with full benefits before the age of 55.

Union members sued, arguing that the city couldn't make those changes without getting permission from the state General Assembly.

That additional level of approval is needed to make sure that firefighters have enough money to live on when they retire, said Demetris Alfred, the union president.

"We don't get Social Security, so this is huge," he said. "For anybody to come after our pensions, we would have this type of response because it's our livelihood."

Firefighters also argued that the changes violated the constitutional protections given to pensions, but a city judge rejected both those arguments. The union appealed, and that's what will go before the appeals court on Tuesday.

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SAINT LOUIS FIRE ACADEMY CLASS - 2014

March 11, 2014 - St. Louis Fire Department

ST. LOUIS - Congratulations to the St. Louis Fire Department R. Arris Recruit class of 2014. Justifiably Proud!!!

St. Louis Fire Department Community Outreach

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EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY - ASSISTANT FIRE CHIEF

March 10, 2014 -

The Monarch FPD is currently searching for an Assistant Fire Chief at its HQ facility at 13725 Olive Blvd. in Chesterfield, MO. Salary will be commensurate with experience. Resumes of candidates are due no later than 4:00pm on Friday, March 14, 2014.

The Monarch Fire Protection District covers a geographic area of almost 62 square miles in West St. Louis and service more than 60,000 people that live in portions of Ballwin, Chesterfield, Clarkson Valley, Creve Coeur, Maryland Heights, Wildwood and parts of unincorporated St. Louis County. The District operates 5 Engine Houses, a Maintenance Center, an Administration Facility and a Training Tower and has a staff that is made up of more than 125 Firefighter/Paramedics, Fire Prevention Specialists, Officers and Administrative Personnel.

More information on position

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WEST ST. LOUIS COUNTY HOME CATCHES FIRE TWICE IN LESS THAN 24 HOURS

March 10, 2005 - KMOV

DES PERES - Firefighters are investigating after a fire broke out twice at a Des Peres home in less than 24 hours.

According to officials, the fires occurred at a home in the 12000 block of Whitehorse Lane.

Crews say a fire first broke out after two pieces of metal sport sparked while the homeowner was changing a dryer vent Sunday morning.

Firefighters were able to contain the fire to one room.

Crews were called back to the home to battle a second blaze around 2:30 a.m. Monday morning. Five other fire departments were called in to assist after the flames could not be contained.

The fire reached two alarms before officials were able to put it out.

No one was home at the time of the second blaze. Firefighters say the home is likely a total loss.

More on KMOV story and photos




REMEMBERING AFFTON FIRE CHIEF JERRY BUEHNE 03-10-2005

March 10, 2005 - South County Times

A Farewell To Affton Fire Chief 03-10-2005




WOMAN IN CRASH THAT KILLED FIREFIGHTER ARRESTED FOR DWI

March 8, 2014 - KSDK

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Mo. - A 38-year-old Pacific woman has been arrested under the suspicion of DWI for his involvement in a head-on collision that killed a 27-year veteran of the Eureka Fire Protection District.

Jael Clem is charged with manslaughter, second degree assault and driving while intoxicated.

Eureka firefighter Greg Light - who was off-duty at the time of the crash - was driving westbound on Route O. Clem, who was in the eastbound lane, allegedly tried to pass another driver, hitting Light's car head-on. Light was not wearing a seatbelt.

An 11-year-old passenger in Clem's car was seriously injured, and Light was pronounced dead on the scene.

An investigation is ongoing, and no additional information was immediately available.

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OFF-DUTY EUREKA FIREFIGHTER DIES IN A THREE-VEHICLE CRASH IN FRANKLIN COUNTY

March 8, 2014 - St. Louis Post Dispatch

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Mo. - An off-duty Eureka firefighter, Gregory Light, died in a three-vehicle crash on Route O in Franklin County on Friday night.

Light, 49, of Catawissa, Mo., was pronounced dead at the scene at 9:18 p.m.

Light served with the Eureka Fire Department for 27 years. He was active in EMT and paramedic training, the junior firefighter program and other fire related training programs. Light was also chairman of the Missouri Emergency Cardiac Care Committee for the American Heart Association. Survivors include his wife, Faith, a son, Justin, who is a Eureka firefighter, and a daughter, Samantha. The Missouri Highway Patrol gave this account of the accident:

A 2010 Audi Q5 driven by Jael M. Clem, 38, of Pacific, was traveling eastbound on Route O when she attempted to pass a 2013 Chevrolet Sonic driven by Edward N. Fox, 23, of Pacific. Clem's vehicle struck the front of a westbound 2007 Dodge Caliber driven by Light. Clem's vehicle overturned and came to rest in the eastbound lanes. Light's vehicle traveled off the left side of the roadway. Clem's passenger, Yasmin Clem, 11, of Pacific, was taken to Mercy Medical Center in Creve Coeur, where she was listed in serious condition Saturday.

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FIRE DISTRICT EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY

March 7, 2014 - Metro West Fire Protection District

ST. LOUIS COUNTY - The Metro West Fire Protection District, St. Louis County Missouri is currently accepting applicants for the position of Firefighter/Paramedic. Please visit our website at www.metrowest-fire.org for a complete online application packet.

Metro West Employment Application

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MISSOURI ATHLETIC CLUB COMMEMORATES DEADLIEST FIRE IN ST. LOUIS HISTORY

March 7, 2014 - KTVI

ST. LOUIS - March 8 marks an infamous day in St. Louis history - the 100th anniversary of the city's deadliest fire.

Just before midnight on March 8, 1914, fire broke out at the Missouri Athletic Club (MAC). St. Louis firemen battled the blaze for 12 hours.

More than 30 people died and the original clubhouse was destroyed. The number of casualties make it the deadliest fire in St. Louis history.

The MAC's Tom Dunn talks about what happened that day and what's planned for Sunday. The MAC will be hosting a luncheon to salute the St. Louis Fire Department. It's open to the public and you can call the MAC at 314-539-4470 for reservations.

The cost is $37.50 per person and includes a delicious three-course lunch. The luncheon will begin at 11:15 with registration and exhibits followed by lunch and a program at noon.

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FIREFIGHTERS BATTLE BLAZE AT 3-STORY ST. LOUIS BUILDING

March 7, 2014 - KMOV

ST. LOUIS - Firefighters were battling a blaze that swept through a three-story building in north St. Louis Friday morning.

The fire broke out in the 4400 block of N. 20th at Newhouse around 6:15 a.m. Firefighters arrived on the scene and found flames shooting from the first and second floors. The flames then spread to the third floor and an evacuation order was given.

Crews on multiple ladders were trying to get the fire out from above to help firefighters on the ground.

Firefighters appeared to have doused the flames by about 7:30 a.m., though smoke could still be seen on Interstate 70.

Officials say the building was vacant. No injuries were reported. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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FIREFIGHTERS BATTLE 2ND ALARM BLAZE AT KIRKWOOD HOME

March 5, 2014 - KMOV

KIRKWOOD - Firefighters are battling a 2nd alarm blaze at a Kirkwood home Wednesday evening.

The call came out around 4:30 for a fire at the neighboring home of the Frank Lloyd Wright House on N. Ballas Road.

Fire crews are on scene working to control the flames. It is still unclear if the home was occupied at the time. A seocnd alarm was struck 5 p.m. as more crews arrived to assist at the scene.

Information into the extent of the fire was not immediately known.

Stay with News 4 and KMOV.com for the latest on this developing story.

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FIRE DAMAGES CARS, BUILDING AT HILLSDALE SALVAGE LOT

March 5, 2014 - St. Louis Post Dispatch

HILLSDALE - Employees of Brock Auto Parts and Recycling await the arrival of firefighters after cars caught fire in the salvage yard on Kienlen Avenue in Hillsdale on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. The cause of the fire was under investigation. Photo by Robert Cohen, rcohen@post-dispatch.com

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