City administrators and fire cheifs from Clayton, Richmond Heights, Maplewood, Brentwood, and Rock Hill have been working since last fall to combine the command structure of the cities’ fire departments.
The findings of the study will be presented to the Richmond Heights City Council on Monday, July 17 — the first public presentation.
Maplewood Fire Chief Terry Merrell supported the plan on Fox 2 news Friday. “Change is obviously scary, I get that. But this is a tremendous opportunity,” Merrell said.
Merrill said it can be taxing to wear all the hats required to be chief. The revised system would allow upper management to perform duties supporting all five departments, providing more effective leadership.
But the union representing firefighters says restructuring the command staff will come at the expense of public safety, creating problems on the front lines.
“They’re doing it at the expense of the firefighters in these communities. And candidly, at the expense of their residents,” said Kurt Becker, District Vice President of the International Association of Firefighters Local 2665.
Becker said the union’s interests have been left out of the conversation.