Richmond Heights passes fire command consolidation: a resident reports

Richmond Heights city officials Monday night passed a bill to consolidate the command structure for the fire departments of  Richmond Heights, Brentwood, Maplewood, Rock Hill and Clayton. It was the first of the five cities to approve it.

Richmond Heights resident Peggy Terrell spoke against the idea at the meeting, and also wrote a report, which she gave permission to be used in 40 South:

I have lived in Richmond Heights, Missouri for over 18 years and I have loved living here.  Tonight was the first time I felt that the Richmond Heights Mayor and Council let down their constituents by voting for the 5 municipality fire department consolidation, known as East Central Fire Command Participation Agreement (Bill 5503/ECFC).  The administrative staff of Richmond Heights, Brentwood, Maplewood, Rock Hill and Clayton will consolidate IF the 4 other municipalities’ council agree upon it.

Tonight Councilman Dan Sebban of District 4 abstained from voting because he was unaware they were voting tonight and he wasn’t fully informed of the Bill because he has been out of town. Councilman Danny Hebenstreit of District 4 hadn’t spoken to his constituents but voted yes anyway. Councilman Matt Casey and Councilman Joan Provanik of District 1 both voted yes. Councilman Megan Moylan of District 3 voted yes via Skype. Councilman Megan looked like she was sleeping during most of the meeting so she wasn’t paying attention to the comments of several residents, a fireman union representative, and retired fire chief who opposed this bill.  I am proud to say Councilman Reginald Finney and Councilman Rick Vilcek of my district, District 2, voted No as did Councilman Ed Notter of District 3.  We needed 5 votes to pass so Mayor Jim Thompson did the honor of voting yes so the bill was passed tonight.

In 2006, Richmond Heights tried to merge their entire municipality with Clayton and Brentwood, Missouri. Our new city would have been named Clayton Heights.  I was on the board of the Richmond Heights/Clayton Joint Study Committee regarding the merger of the three municipalities. The three cities spent thousands of dollars on a study to determine if it was feasible to merge the three municipalities. The proposal failed because the committee was unable to come up with any hard evidence that merging the cities would lead to tax and cost savings. In 2006, the public safety subcommittee could not find any meaningful benefit for merging the three fire departments. The report said a merger could lead to a loss of identity for the departments, each of which has a long history of service so WHY do they think it is feasible to consolidate now?

In 2006, Richmond Heights brought this matter to the ballot for the voters to approve.  But tonight, the council made this important decision themselves, instead of allowing their constituents, the people who voted them into office, to determine if this is what they wanted.

To the rude man, who is a Richmond Heights Planning and Zoning employee, I did not comment when you were speaking to the Council and I do not appreciate your comment about my speech.  Your stares and comments did not intimidate me.

To the news media….Where were you tonight?  If you were present the decision might have been different.  You were present 3 weeks ago.

City of Richmond Heights tweets from the meeting:

6 thoughts on “Richmond Heights passes fire command consolidation: a resident reports

  1. I am not sure if I understand how there can be much of a savings. I suspect that each city already has fire trucks and fire stations and just because we consolidate the cities I don’t believe all the fire trucks are going to come from one central location. The fire house is there so what will become of it when it is not in use. Or that you now maybe have 12 fire trucks and because of the consolidation you go to 5 fire trucks. To properly serve the amount of land these cities take up you are going to need about the same number of fire trucks and fire stations and fire fighters. Maybe you get rid of some staff and maybe a chief or two but who else.
    I do not know this for a fact but I would bet there is some sort of formula that says if you have a population of 30,000 you need so many fire stations and fire fighters to be on the ready to answer the call and do it in the shortest time possible. Who in Clayton or Brentwood wants a fire truck to be driving from Maplewood to come put out their fire when the fire house used to be 8 blocks away.

    I think I must be missing something….

    • The number of fire trucks and location of stations would probably remain the same, as those are factors in a city’s ISO insurance ratings, which help determine how much you pay for homeowner’s insurance. As you say, they might save some money on a couple support people and a chief or two.

  2. Well I am surprised as I am the first one to comment on this Ram Rodding procedure. How did Richmond Heights for on this issue before as mentioned by Peggy Terrell. I hope at least one or two of the remaining cities vote no. What is the procedure to put this on a city ballot or call for a special election. How can so few make this big decision without the majority of the residents having a say so. This is like a government that is telling you the resident you are not educated enough to make this decision, we will make it for you, because you are all a bunch of dummies. I am telling you, next is the police department, then the public works, then the schools and then we will be part of the crime ridden city of St. Louis. How long will it take public works to fix a hole in your street and will our schools go uncredited. My father was part of the corruption in the city and he was so blind. They used him and that was his fault and when they were through with him he was kicked out of his city job. Never did he advance beyond a low wage earner for the city. Wake up people and hopefully it is not too late to stop this, is it?

  3. Does anyone have any info on the “Clayton Heights” proposal? I don’t remember any discussion here in Brentwood at the time.

  4. Congratulations to Richmond Heights for doing the responsible thing and voting to move forward with this consolidation. This was a vote to assure the future of all the combined communities by merging the fire departments and maybe leading to other sensible department mergers in the future. Consolidations have been happening in the non-profit, public entities, human services, education and for-profit sectors for many years now and there are very good reasons for this, sustaining viability. I am proud of the members who did not buckle under pressure from any special interest groups and voted yes.