March 1, 2016 - Crestwood Fire Department

CRESTWOOD, MO. - A Big Congratulations to Fire Chief Mark Menning who took his last ride today after 36 Years of Service. The City of Crestwood Thanks you. Happy Retirement!

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November 25, 2015 - St, Louis Post Dispatch Special to the Post-Dispatch

CRESTWOOD - Crestwood aldermen on Tuesday night approved a new agreement with firefighters, represented by Local 2655 of the International Association of Firefighters. Within a week, 17 firefighters will vote on it and acceptance is likely, a spokesman said. The department has 21 employees.

The last pact expired in September 2014, and negotiations were delayed for various reasons. The new agreement addresses shift staffing issues and other work rules. The city continues to set firefighters and other employees wages in its budget. All employees got a 5 percent raise for this year.

The board also gave first reading to the budget for next year. It was originally $11.7 million with a $1 million deficit, but small proposed spending reductions were made at a two-hour work session. Under the new pay plan, some experienced employees will get merit raises averaging about 3 percent. The final vote is planned for Dec. 8.

City revenue has been stagnant in recent years, primarily due to the closing of the Crestwood Mall and delays in its proposed redevelopment. Other retail has been reduced as well. A new plan for the mall is in place but details have not been announced and tax incentives have not been approved.

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City at increased risk of litigation, union VP warns

October 21, 2015 - Call News By Mike Anthony Executive Editor

CRESTWOOD, MO. - Crestwood officials and members of the city's firefighters' union have reached an impasse on staffing levels and salaries, a representative of Local 2665 of the International Association of Fire Fighters told the Board of Aldermen last week.

Local 2665 represents the city's firefighters, and 4th District Vice President Kurt Becker said compliance with national staffing standards and salary competitiveness in the local marketplace are at the heart of the impasse.

In September 2014, Becker told aldermen that union representatives had attempted to schedule contract negotiations with city officials since June 1, 2014, to no avail, and that city staff was "nonexistent to negligent in its response" to the union's request to meet.

A three-year memorandum of understanding, or MOU, between the city and firefighters expired Sept. 30, 2014. In October 2014, aldermen approved a six-month bridge agreement with the union. Under the pact, all terms of the previous MOU remained in effect.

The bridge agreement also stated that if a new MOU was not reached before March 31, firefighters would be offered "any economic enhancements" extended to other city employees.

Negotiations had gone very well and had wound down by March, Becker noted.

"There was one item left and we anticipated that it was going to be a relatively small item. It was about the implementation of the pay plan, and we had anticipated that we'd work through those details through the month of April and we expected that sometime in the month of May of 2015 that the Board of Aldermen would receive the final version of the collective bargaining agreement ...," he said. "As time went on, things became more and more unclear, and ultimately we wound up sitting down with a mediator, trying to sort out the two items that were impasse items. That mediation took place on July 15, and we really haven't reached an agreement beyond that and that's why we're here tonight ..."

The city and the firefighters' union should not be at an impasse, Becker said, proposing that discussions be referred back to the mediator and that Mayor Gregg Roby participate in that process.

Regarding staffing, Becker said that National Fire Protection Association, or NFPA, 1710 standards stipulate "a minimum of four personnel on an engine company like the fire truck that runs out of the Crestwood Fire Department at all times."

"... What we agreed to back in February of 2015 was that the Crestwood Fire Department would be staffed with no fewer than six personnel," he said. "That section of the contract was checked off. We put it aside and we worked on other items because we had reached on agreement on that."

But on July 15, city officials notified the union they intended to revisit the issue of staffing levels, "and proposed that instead of six, we have five, which would leave three people on the fire truck," Becker said. "And we felt very strongly that that was a significant safety issue ..."

The union official also raised the issue of the city's Insurance Services Organization, or ISO, rating, which is a 4. ISO rates communities based on how well they score on the organization's Fire Suppression Rating Schedule, with a 1 being the best and 10 the worst. Becker noted that when Crestwood received its current ISO rating of 4, it operated two engine companies. The city now operates one engine company and one rescue squad.

"... The next ISO rating process will probably take an unfavorable view of that loss of that piece of equipment," he said. "And that could very easily lead to an increase in the ISO rating for the city of Crestwood, and consequently an increase in the property insurance rate that your citizens and your businesses pay ..."

In early March, City Administrator Mark Sime proposed a pay scale, and while less than union officials desired, they believed it reasonable and tenure based and accepted it, Becker said. In May, firefighters unanimously approved an MOU that included the pay plan, believing it would be tenure based, Becker said. City officials later revealed that the pay plan would not be tenure based and "backed away" from the previously agreed-upon staffing levels, he added.

Besides the pay plan, Becker also cited a disparity in Crestwood firefighters' pay compared to cities the union considers comparable, saying, "... Our goal was to try and get the city of Crestwood to have a Fire Department that complied with national standards and that provided its employees with market-average compensation. That doesn't sound very ambitious. It doesn't sound very sexy, honestly ..."

To help Crestwood fund the costs of meeting national standards and making firefighter pay competitive, Local 2665 made several proposals, including:

- Consider outsourcing Fire Department management services.

- Consider "insourcing" EMS transport services to capture billable revenue from the roughly 1,000 EMS calls that Crestwood generates each year.

Becker also warned city officials about their increased exposure to litigation.

"... I feel very strongly that both with ISO and with NFPA, particularly 1710, we're going to see trial attorneys recognizing the opportunity for business, moving forward ...," he said. "If the authority having jurisdiction doesn't comply with those standards and the insurance company that's underwriting that property realizes a $5 million, a $10 million loss in that property, they're going to start looking for ways to offset those losses that that insurance company is going to have to pay.

"And where that's going to land is right back here on your laps as the men and women of the Board of Aldermen of the city of Crestwood ... You guys are the folks making the decisions about how many firefighters are on your fire trucks, and ultimately if there aren't the right number of firefighters on your fire trucks, if your firefighters aren't trained properly, if all of those things are happening and you start seeing these property losses, it's going to be you guys that these insurance companies and these trial lawyers are coming after to offset some of those losses ..."

Ward 1 Alderman Darryl Wallach asked Becker how many cities or fire districts meet the NFPA 1710 staffing requirement.

"... There are few that have fully adopted it," Becker acknowledged, adding, "Under the current MOU, we have a minimum staffing of six. That's all we're asking the city to do is move that same minimum staffing standard that we had under the previous MOU forward to this new one ..."

Roby said, "... I think every one of these firefighters over here know that if I had the opportunity to do so, you'd be paid a lot more than what you're getting right now. But the bottom line is it boils down to finances. If we had the money, we wouldn't be sitting here talking about this.

"We'd be the standard that other fire departments would be attempting to achieve ... It's a matter of finances. It's not something that we as a board here at this particular moment can control. We don't have the additional dollars, and I'm just being very candid and honest with you when I say that ..."

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November 14, 2014 - South County Times by Eileen P. Duggan

CRESTWOOD - The Crestwood Board of Aldermen on Oct. 28 approved a six-month bridge agreement with the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2665, representing Crestwood fire personnel.

But the board postponed the second reading of a bill that would amend the city's code regarding collective bargaining.

The bridge agreement extends the city and the firefighters' three-year memorandum of understanding, which ended Sept. 30, until March 31. The extension gives the parties time to negotiate a new contract. All terms of the 2011-2014 contract will remain in force. If a new agreement is not approved by March 31, firefighters would be offered the same economic enhancements, such as wages or leave benefits, extended to other city employees.

The collective bargaining ordinance would add to chapter 2 of the municipal code a five-page section 2-147 describing the collective bargaining process with union groups.

The board voted 8-0 to approve the bill on first reading after very little discussion, but one alderman voted against an immediate second reading. The second reading is postponed to the next meeting, Nov. 28.

The collective bargaining process would involve a team appointed by the board of aldermen to negotiate with a recognized labor organization. The bill sets forth a process to recognize any previously unrecognized labor organizations for the purposes of negotiation.

Currently, Crestwood firefighters are the only employee group represented by a labor union, the International Association of Fire Firefighters Local 2665. The proposed code change addresses the procedure should any other employee group wish to join a union.

On Sept. 23, the IAFF Local 2665 representative addressed the board of aldermen to complain that city officials had failed to schedule bargaining talks, even though the contract was near expiration. Kurt Becker, IAFF's 4th District vice president, alleged that city officials had responded only once in writing to six written communications asking that they set dates for bargaining discussions.

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September 15, 2014 - KTVI BY PAUL SCHANKMAN

CRESTWOOD - A smokey two-alarm house fire sent five members of one family plus a firefighter to the hospital.

It started at about 2:30 Friday afternoon in the 9500 block of Craigwood Terrace.

Witnesses say some of the residents escaped by breaking out the front windows.

Investigators are still trying to figure out what caused it.

Two victims were taken away in an ambulance, one of them in critical condition.

A firefighter was treated for smoke inhalation.

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Photo by Crestwood Fire Department

October 1, 2014 - Call Newspapers By Mike AnthonyExecutive Editor

CRESTWOOD - A representative of Local 2665 of the International Association of Fire Fighters told Crestwood aldermen last week that city staff "has been nonexistent to negligent in its response" to the union's efforts to schedule contract negotiations.

Local 2665 represents the city's firefighters, and 4th District Vice President Kurt Becker said union representatives have attempted to schedule contract negotiations with city officials since June 1, but to no avail. The city's current agreement with the local was set to expire Sept. 30.

He noted a 2012 Missouri Supreme Court ruling "mandated that employers collectively bargain with their employees and to do so in a framework that is defined by the judges' rulings as bargaining in good faith with the specific intent to reach an agreement ...."

Citing a memo he presented to the board, Becker said, ".... Since June 1 of this year, we have been attempting very diligently to schedule contract negotiations with the city of Crestwood. There have been six formal written correspondences submitted to city staff to commence that bargaining - documentation of all that correspondence is contained within this memo here. The extent of our response that we've received from city staff has been one email. Most of our correspondence has gone unresponded to.

"We are currently facing a situation where our contract is set to expire within days, and we have received absolutely no feedback, no affirmative response, candidly, no acknowledgement of most of the correspondence that we have sent to the city in an effort to commence bargaining with the city."

In addressing aldermen, Becker said he was not "looking to be confrontational, not looking to - in any way, shape or form - create an adverse relationship with the city of Crestwood, but we need some assistance from the elected officials because city staff has been nonexistent to negligent in its response to our inquiries and requests for bargaining. The Supreme Court set forth a very specific framework for this bargaining.

"I am making the city aware that the city is, at its staff's behest, currently bargaining in bad faith. By refusing to even acknowledge and schedule bargaining sessions, you are putting your city at risk for significant litigious efforts on our part. We don't want to go that route. However, we are being put in a position where we're not being given too many options here."

The union official said his hope was the "Board of Aldermen will exercise its authority and direct staff to expeditiously schedule bargaining sessions with our bargaining unit, and to do so in a manner that is very much in good faith and with an intent to reach an agreement ...."

Board President Mike Tsichlis of Ward 4 later addressed Becker's comments, adding that he would have liked to have had the information the union official presented to the board before the Sept. 23 meeting.

He noted that two representatives of the city's Fire Department addressed aldermen in May, citing significant savings on employee health insurance for 2014-2015 and requesting that Crestwood's contribution for health-insurance premiums be the same for all employees - 89 percent.

In a June 18 memo, City Administrator Mark Sime recommended that the four tiers for the city's contribution to employee health-insurance premiums remain unchanged.

On June 24, aldermen voted to retain existing percentages for the city's contribution to employee health-insurance premiums, rejecting the firefighters' request.

Referencing the firefighters' insurance request, Tsichlis said, ".... That proposal didn't go anywhere, but there was also what I could see at the time a lack of communication between the local's representatives and the city administrator. I thought I called him out about that at that meeting.

"So this really disturbs me that there's been a complete breakdown in communication between the local and between our city administrator. Now I have to ask our city administrator .... I guess you've been aware of their attempts at contacting you regarding setting up an agreement and you did not respond? Is that correct?"

Sime said, "That's incorrect."

Tsichlis said, "OK. Could you explain, please?"

Sime replied, "I've responded and also Fire Chief (Mark) Menning has responded .... Not all responses have been in writing, but we have made attempts to respond."

Tsichlis said, "OK. So in other words, you did respond, and I might ask you, how did you respond? Did you agree to meet or no...."

Sime said, "We told them that we were still reviewing their 50-plus-page document."

About every two weeks since June, the union has submitted requests to schedule bargaining sessions, Becker said.

Tsichlis again asked Sime about his responses to the union's requests.

Sime said, "We responded verbally and we let them know that we were reviewing their document."

Tsichlis said, "OK, is that true?"

Becker said, "That is inconsistent with my experience, candidly. My contact information is readily available to the city administrator (and) the fire chief. No one has contacted me and said, 'Hey, can you give us another month?' .... What we've experienced in other communities when we've run up to deadlines like this is frequently I'll be contacted by counsel from the city and asked to enter into a bridge agreement - a 90-day, a 120-day bridge agreement - so that the contract doesn't expire. No such communication has come our way ...."

Noting he hoped the matter would be resolved soon, Tsichlis later said, ".... I would say one last thing to our city administrator, if you have anything to say in response, this is your chance to do it before, you know, we move on because I think I've heard enough, too, now."

Sime said, "We received the proposal. We have been going through it. We have worked with the city attorney's firm (Lashly & Baer), and we are getting ready to start negotiations."

Ward 1 Alderman Richard Breeding asked, ".... What happens a week from today when Sept. 30 comes around and there's no agreement? Will there be the old MOU (memorandum of understanding)?"

Sime said, "My understanding .... from the attorney is that the old MOU will remain in place."

Breeding asked Becker, "Is that how you all see it, I hope?"

Becker replied, "That is clearly not the ideal scenario for us to operate under, candidly ...."

Breeding later asked Becker, "So at the end of the day, is our public safety in jeopardy here?"

Becker said, "Absolutely not. The members of the Crestwood Fire Department will take very seriously their obligation to the city of Crestwood and would never even consider any outcome as a result of any kind of bargaining session or lack thereof that would jeopardize the public safety of the city of Crestwood."

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Crestwood Fire Chief Mark Menning, left, accepts a check for $1,200 from Bradley Brown, Missouri American Water manager of government affairs.

January 28, 2014 - Call Newspaper

CRESTWOOD - The Crestwood Department of Fire Services was awarded a $1,200 grant by Missouri American Water.

The grant will be used to purchase two gauges that measure the amount of water delivered by fire hydrants, according to a news release.

The grant requesting the funding for the equipment was written by Capt. Tim Broyles, who oversees the Hydrant Inspection Program for the department. Broyles submitted a request for the purchase of the gauges before the annual hydrant inspections in April. At that time, the department was not in a position to approve the purchase, the release stated.

The grant provides funds for the gauges, which allow the department the ability to determine the volume of water supplied by each hydrant in Crestwood. The data assists the department's preplanning process to increase accuracy when calculating needed water flow in the event of a fire, according to the release.

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April 17, 2013 - Suburban Journal

CRESTWOOD - The Crestwood Fire Department will enter an agreement for fire and emergency medical services dispatching with the Central County Emergency 911 Dispatch Center.

The five-year contract starts on July 1 and will continue until July 1, 2018. The annual cost will not exceed $70,000. The exception will be $35,000 for the remaining six months of 2013 after the contract starts.

The Crestwood aldermanic board approved the contract at its April 9 meeting.

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April 11, 2013 - SunsetHills-Crestwood Patch

CRESTWOOD - Crestwood's Board of Aldermen honored Capt. Thomas A. Knapp (right in photo), who is retiring after serving the city for the past 38 years, serving as a firefighter, driver and paramedic, according to city documents.

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