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MEHLVILLE FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT






MEHLVILLE MAN DIES AFTER FALLING INTO BURNING LEAF PILE, POLICE SAY

March 8, 2016 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Joel Currier St. Louis Post-Dispatch

MEHLVILLE, MO. - An 89-year-old man died Monday morning after falling into a pile of burning leaves in his back yard, police said.

Albert Grewe was attempting to burn leaves in his back yard in the 3600 block of Andora Place about 9:30 a.m. when he apparently fell into the burning leaf pile, police said.

St. Louis County Police say they believe Grewe's death in the Mehlville area was an accident. It was not clear what caused the man's fall.

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FIGHTING FIRE WITH FOOD


Firefighters from Engine House No. 5 sit together for a Taco Pizza dinner made with fire/medic Jake Lickteig's (foreground left) recipe on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, at the Mehlville Fire Protection District Engine House No. 5 in St. Louis, Mo. The two pizzas fed seven firefighters with about half of a pizza left over. Photo by Chris Lee, clee@post-dispatch.com

February 3, 2016 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Daniel Neman

MEHLVILLE, MO. - It's one of those stereotypes you hope is true.

Firefighters spend days together at a time - living, sleeping and battling blazes. It's almost like a family, but with more danger.

They cook for one another, too, and over the years they hone their cooking skills to an art. There is nothing like coming back to the fire station after fighting a blisteringly hot, smoky fire and sitting down to a satisfying meal.

This is where the stereotype comes in: Firefighters are reputed to be great cooks. Every fire station is said to have at least one guy or gal who whips up terrific food.

"I've known a lot of firefighters who have been very good cooks, and I've known a few who have not been very good cooks," said Rick Welle, chief of the Edwardsville Fire Department, who has the firehouse reputation of being a good cook himself.

Everyone takes turns cooking at some firehouses; at others the duty tends to fall to just a couple of the firefighters. Dinner is served every night, and some houses also make breakfast on weekends.

"Hopefully, if you do it right you get leftovers for lunch. It's whoever gets to it first. You have to be hungry at 10:30 (a.m.) sometimes or you don't get any leftovers for lunch," said Jake Lickteig, a firefighter in the Mehlville Fire Protection District.

Firefighters often are called to substitute for one another at different houses or float their schedules from one station to another. Each firehouse has its own way of dividing its cooking duties, but at the firehouse Lickteig is regularly assigned to, they use a method called dinner club.

A schedule is prepared in advance, so everybody knows when his turn is coming. The day's cook buys food for the whole house with his own money and does not chip in when it's another person's turn to cook.

"At the firehouse, the choices are (1). take it, or (2). leave it," said Nick Smith of the Monarch Fire Protection District, which covers Chesterfield and nearby areas.

"At the firehouse, if you're going to be a part of the crew you have to eat with everybody and everybody has to eat what everybody eats," he said.

But that came to be a problem for Smith, who became seriously overweight. Through hard work, diet and exercise - "cutting back a little bit and moving a little more every day," he said - he managed to lose 90 pounds.

"Portion control was tough for me. In order to try to do better, I had to cook alone for a while. The others started to see what I was cooking, and they would say, 'I want to be in your crew,'" he said.

His healthier food caught on at the firehouse, but he is always sure to first try something new at home with his wife and two children. If they like it, he will make it for his colleagues.

"The firehouse critics are always worst," he said.

One of Smith's favorite healthy meals to cook is a Chicken Fajita Bowl, which puts strips of baked chicken breast on top of quinoa. Colorful sautéed bell peppers and onions are draped over the chicken, topped with black beans, a chopped avocado and nonfat Greek yogurt.

In Edwardsville, Chief Welles' Baked Potato Soup is considerably less healthful.

"There is absolutely nothing in it that is good for you, but it is a very good soup," he said with a laugh.

He developed the recipe himself, through several years' worth of trial and error. He now serves it every year to the workers who help out at his department's annual open house, and he makes it a handful of times for either his family at home or his co-workers at the firehouse.

"It's not the usual fare we make for them. Everyone here is heart healthy. It's for their rare treat to bring the calories up for a cold-weather day," he said.

How could it not be? It begins with chopped-up baked potatoes and then adds everything you could want on one: bacon, sour cream, butter, cheddar cheese, green onion and more.

"It's definitely feel-good food," he said.

In Mehlville, Lickteig has a reputation for several of his dishes, including a chicken spiedini. He is also known for his Taco Pizza, which he calls "My tribute to Happy Joe's," a pizza and ice-cream restaurant in Marlborough.

He begins with a ready-made pizza crust and bakes it with refried beans, sliced olives and shredded cheese. While the crust is baking, he sautés ground beef in taco seasoning and mixes it with Rotel tomatoes with lime and cilantro.

Sour cream goes on top of the crust, along with the meat, more shredded cheese, shredded lettuce and Doritos taco-flavored chips ("pour half in a bowl to keep the guys satisfied, then let someone who has had a bad day crush the other half in the bag," he said).

"It's not the healthiest of meals. You don't have it all the time. It's definitely a guilty pleasure," he said.

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MEHLVILLE FIRE RALLIES TO HELP FIREMAN'S WIDOW AFTER FLOOD


Photo: KSDK)

January 28, 2016 - KSDK

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO. - For more than 30 years, firefighter Alex Scheuer quietly and humbly served his community with honor and pride.

"Alex was the epitome of what our job is supposed to be. He was all about customer service and community service," said Capt. Nick Fahs with the Mehlville Fire Protection District.

But seven years ago, the brave husband and father lost his long battle with a rare form of cancer.

"His one wish was to die in his home. He said we would have to take him out of here feet first," said Diana Scheuer, his widow.

Alex's other passion in life was painting and woodwork.

He went to great lengths to design rooms and furniture with his family and loved ones in mind.

Diana said, "Everything in this house has meaning. Everything defines who we are."

So you can imagine her devastation last month when historic flooding in South County sent water gushing into her basement.

"We lost so much" Diana said.

Backed-up sewage caused thousands of dollars in damage and washed away pieces of Alex that she'll never get back.

She said, "When they set his firehouse boots out here, that's when I first cried. It was like losing him all over again."

But just as Mehlville firefighters promised Alex's family during his final days, they are now coming to his widow's rescue.

Fahs said, "She's struggling. We're just making sure we don't go back on our word that we're going to help any way we can."

The department is trying to get the word out about Diana's story so people will donate to a GoFundMe page that's been set up in her name.

The hope is the community will support the wife of a man who spent his life doing the same for them.

"He'd be the first person to stand up and help somebody's widow," Fahs said.

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COMPENSATION SUPPLEMENT OK'D FOR MFPD EMPLOYEES


Aaron Hilmer

December 30, 2015 - Call News Mike Anthony Executive Editor

A one-time $1,000 compensation supplement for Mehlville Fire Protection District employees was approved last week by the Board of Directors.

Board members voted unanimously Dec. 23 to approve the $1,000 compensation supplement for full-time employees working for the fire district as of Dec. 31. Part-time employees and employees who began working for the fire district this year will receive a pro-rated supplemental payment.

The 2015 budget, approved in December 2014, did not include a pay increase for employees - only step increases - and the compensation supplement is the only salary adjustment employees will receive, according to Chief Financial Officer Brian Bond.

The one-time compensation supplement will not impact the district's 2016 budget, which the board also approved last week.

The 2016 budget includes step increases and an additional 1.5-percent salary increase for employees.

"As we near the end of 2015, I wanted to provide the board with a 2015 budget update and amendment," Bond said. "Certainly each month throughout the year we talk about the performance of the organization in terms of how we're doing budget compared to actual, just to make the board aware that we're going to have the resources available all year long to address the needs (of the district) ...

"Looking at the 2015 year-to-date budget versus actual results, we see a number of significant positive variances on our expense side in the general fund through Nov. 30, 2015. It's forecasted that the general fund will have approximately 4 percent of the budget that will not be utilized. This translates to approximately $700,000."

Some of the "significant positive variances" cited by Bond are:

- Salaries/overtime wages of $220,000 realized through the attrition of seven employees during the year.

- Payroll taxes of $70,000 realized through the attrition of seven employees during the year.

- Health insurance savings of $80,000 realized through the attrition of seven employees during the year.

- Gasoline and oil savings of $50,000 realized through declining fuel prices throughout the year.

- EMS billing savings of $65,000 by negotiating a lower billing rate than what was originally budgeted.

- Election expense savings of $33,000. No one filed to challenge Board of Directors Treasurer Bonnie Stegman in April, so no election was conducted.

"Obviously when the budget is prepared in the previous year, we cannot foresee or anticipate all the things that will take place in the course of the year, and if these results had been known prior to 2015 additional funds could have been transferred to the pension fund to address future obligations and perhaps a pay increase could have been part of the 2015 budget ...," Bond said.

He recommended the board transfer an additional $500,000 from the general fund to the pension fund and that employees "receive a compensation supplement in 2015. This payment will serve as an incentive to the employees to continue their dedication to fiscal responsibility and keeping costs down ..."

Both recommendations were approved unanimously by the board.

For 2016, the district saw a zero-percent increase in its medical insurance premium with Anthem, something board Chairman Aaron Hilmer attributed to employees.

".... A lot of the buy-in or actions of the employee group as a whole helped us hold to a zero-percent increase on health insurance. If that would be a 10-percent increase, I don't think we'd even be talking about this," he said.

Chief Brian Hendricks said the board "took a risk" when it initiated the district's employee wellness program.

Noting that a zero-percent increase in health insurance premiums is "almost unheard of," the chief said, "The employees are dedicated to that program, and we're all reaping the rewards of that now."

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MEHLVILLE FIREFIGHTERS QUICKLY CONTROL DECK FIRE


Mehlville Fire Protection District firefighters, assisted by members of the Lemay Fire Protection District, douse this deck fire at an Oakville residence.

November 25, 2015 - Call News

Firefighting crews from Mehlville Fire Protection District, with the assistance of the Lemay Fire Protection District, quickly controlled a recent fire on the deck of a two-story house on Christopher Oaks Court in Oakville.

The fire started at roughly 8 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15, as a result of a cooking grill being placed too close to the back wall of the home, according to MFPD Assistant Chief Dan LaFata.

No injuries were reported, the assistant chief told the Call.

LaFata reminded residents to make sure that cooking grills and fire pits are located at a safe distance - at least 15 feet - from their house or building structure.

Another common cause of fires such as the one on Nov. 15 is storing discarded coals from a fireplace too close to the house, according to LaFata.

It is possible for discarded coals to remain hot for weeks after use. Used coals should be placed in a metal container with a lid and kept far away from the home or building structure, he said.

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FIREFIGHTERS PARTICIPATE IN HEAVY EXTRICATION CLASS


MFPD firefighters teach advanced techniques to neighboring districts Photo by Call News

November 11, 2015 - Call News

MEHLVILLE, MO. - Members of the Mehlville Fire Protection District conducted a Heavy Extrication Class last week and taught advanced heavy extrication techniques to their neighboring fire protection districts of Affton, Lemay and Fenton.

MFPD Capt. Dave Waser was the lead instructor and demonstrated how the crew of Mehlville's heavy rescue squad is able to lift and move heavy equipment off other vehicles to allow the rescue of trapped individuals.

Mehlville firefighters moved a tractor-trailer, a dump truck and a school bus off other vehicles during the training, which took place in the parking lot of the Mehlville School District's South County Opportunity for the Purpose of Education/South St. Louis County Management School building on Will Avenue.

The Mehlville Fire Protection District has the only full-time Rescue Squad with a dedicated rescue team in St. Louis County.

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PARAMEDICS COME TO MAN'S AID NOT ONCE, BUT TWICE IN A DAY

October 26, 2015 - KTVI By Dan Greenwald, Online News Producer

MEHLVILLE, MO. - Two Mehlville paramedics went way beyond the call of duty, Monday. They rushed man to a hospital then went back to his home. The man's neighbors and his family were amazed by what happened next.

The man had been on a ladder, cleaning the leaves from his roof and gutter. He broke his leg badly when he fell from the ladder.

For paramedics John Grass and Matt Runge, the job didn't end at the ER.

"Pretty much right after the call, we just decided since he was going to be out of commission for a while we'd go back grab our blower and a couple of rakes and just kind of help him out," Grass said.

"He had a pretty bad injury. We thought 'hey, let's go back there, finish the job, finish doing his leaves for him' and give him a little surprise when he came home," said Runge.

So, the same two guys who'd just helped the man and his wife through their frightening emergency, came back clean up his leaves. Another off-duty firefighter happened to drive by: he pitched in, too.

"We ran out of bags. One of the off duty guys saw us working and brought over a tarp and trailer and made it easier; raked them up onto the tarp and made it a lot easier; just in time too, because we caught another call right when we were finishing up," Grass said.

"We like to think we can build a fireman but we can't build that character that people just inherently have. These two gentlemen, they have that character," said Mehlville Fire Protection District Chief, Brian Hendricks.

Grass and Runge were of the same mold of everyone else in the close to 130 member department, he said.

They were known for more than saving lives.

Along with raking residents' leaves, the staff has changed tires, shoveled snow, even visited an elderly woman simply because she was lonely.

"She lost her husband. She didn't have any family. She was sad. Off-duty they go up and they have lunch with her. It's just a testament to the caliber of people we have," Hendricks said. "They don't do it for this sort of recognition."

"It just seemed like the right thing to do," Grass said.

A relative of the fall victim told FOX 2 the man and his wife wanted to maintain their privacy but also wanted to make sure the paramedics got some sort of recognition for going "above and beyond".

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OVER 20 CARS, BUILDINGS DAMAGED IN SOUTH STL COUNTY FIRE

September 19, 2015 - KSDK Jimmy Bernhard, KSDK

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO. - Approximately 20 cars were damaged or destroyed in an overnight fire at the Bent Pine Condominiums in South St. Louis County.

According to Deputy Chief Kent Snelson with the Mehlville Fire Protection District, the fire started around 3:15 a.m. Saturday morning.

Witnesses say they heard 'explosions' and when they looked outside they saw the carport and the cars underneath on fire.

Photos: Cars, buildings damaged in overnight fire

Snelson says he witnessed a few lightning strikes in the area around the time the fire started, but they have not determined the cause the initial fire.

Several buildings in the area also sustained damage due to the heat, but no residents were injured or displaced from the fire.

"I heard a quiet pop and thought if I hear another one I'm going to go check," Julie Stelfox, a resident in the complex who had her car damaged, said. "I came out of the bedroom about 3:20 a.m. and my living room was orange. I looked out the deck and there was a car on fire and a bunch of other cars that looked like they were catching on fire and I started screaming for everyone to get out. 'Get up and get out!' I started banging on doors and running. I would bet within 20-30 seconds every car was on fire. I'm going to go car shopping tomorrow."

This story will up updated when more information becomes available.

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MEHLVILLE FPD IN STRONG FINANCIAL CONDITION, AUDITOR REPORTS
FIRE DISTRICT'S TAX RATE LOWEST IN COUNTY NINE YEARS RUNNING

July 15, 2015 - Call News Mike Anthony Executive Editor

MEHLVILLE, MO. - The financial condition of the Mehlville Fire Protection District remains strong, despite a decrease in the district's net position.

The Board of Directors recently voted unanimously to accept the district's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, audited by Hochschild, Bloom & Co., for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2014.

Robert Offerman of Hochschild, Bloom & Co. told the board that the district received an "unmodified opinion" on its 2014 financial statements - the best possible opinion that can be given.

"... The district is in a very good financial position. It's very solvent ...," he said.

In addition, the fire district earned a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association for its 2013 financial statements. This is the 16th consecutive year the district has received this recognition.

In 2014, the district's total net position - total assets - decreased by $705,399 to $37,381,911 from $38,087,310 in 2013. That amounts to a 1.85-percent decrease, according to the report.

Offerman attributed the decrease in the district's net position to roughly $300,000 in remaining assets from the South County Fire Alarm Association, or SCFAA, which ceased operations June 30, 2013, being transferred to the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp.

"... That expense is distorting your change in net position a little bit," he said. "In addition to that, there's about $900,000 of depreciation that's an expense in these financial statements ..."

Of the total assets, $16,240,447 represents the district's investment in capital assets, net of related debt; $1,958,527 is restricted for dispatching; and the balance of $19,182,937 will be used to meet the district's ongoing obligations to citizens and creditors, the report states.

During 2014, revenues decreased by more than $1.67 million - 8.02 percent to $19,208,087 from $20,883,077 in 2013.

Of the district's revenues, 84.4 percent came from taxes, 14.7 percent came from charges for services and the remainder came from other income and investments.

The district's expenses increased in 2014 by $469,516 - 2.41 percent - to $19,913,486 from $19,443,970 in 2013.

Roughly $300,000 of that increase is attributable to the transfer of the remaining SCFAA assets, Offerman said.

District liabilities include debt totaling $1,309,676 due within one year, long-term debt totaling $2,056,097 and a net pension obligation of $3,830,476.

A total of $3.61 million in certificates of participation, or COPs, were issued in May 2000 to fund the expansion and renovation of the district's No. 5 firehouse and administrative headquarters on Mueller Road in Green Park.

In July 2005, the Board of Directors voted to refund the COPs issued in 2000 with a savings of more than $240,000 in interest payments. As of Dec. 31, the district owed $1,540,000 on the COPs.

The district's liability for accrued vacation totaled $1,035,144 at the end of 2014, a decrease of $12,675.

The district's liability for accrued sick leave totaled $790,629 at the end of 2014, a reduction of $43,401.

In 2011, the district reduced its liability for accrued sick leave by $1,487,347 - to $897,897 from $2,385,244. That liability was reduced through attrition and a $1.1 million payout to employees.

Offerman also discussed the unfunded actuarial accrued liability of the district's defined-benefit pension plan, which currently has 28 participants. No active employees participate in that plan.

Starting this year, the district's pension obligation of roughly $3.83 million will be reported differently as a result of Statement No. 68 from the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, he said.

"... GASB 68 is going to require the actual actuarial liability, which is about $8 million, to go on your financial statements ... So that $3.8 million will become about $8 million, but there's actually $4.6 million sitting in the pension fund that has not been put into the defined-benefit plan - or it wasn't as of Dec. 31, 2014," he said. "So when you take that $4.6 million out, it would only make the underfunding about $3.4 million, which is actually less than the $3.8 million that you currently have recorded on your balance sheet ...

"It depends on what the directors do with the $4.6 million sitting in the fiduciary fund, but potentially there will be a big hit on your balance sheet when GASB 68 requires the recording of the liability ..."

Chief Financial Officer Brian Bond noted that funds placed in the fiduciary fund are earning more interest than funds in the pension fund.

"So we have funds at BMO Harris, where the defined-benefit pension plan assets resided, and those funds became very liquid. At one point, we had planned on paying out everyone on that plan ...We're getting .01 percent (interest) on the assets there. We have other funds that have come in through the pension fund that we keep at Pulaski Bank, invested through the CDARS (Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service) program, where they're earning about 50 basis points, as opposed to .01. So we're earning more interest at Pulaski than we would have earned at BMO Harris ..."

The district's 2014 blended tax rate of 71 cents per $100 of assessed valuation was "the lowest tax rate of all fire districts in St. Louis County for the ninth year in a row," the report states.

The report highlighted several upgrades in service during 2014, including:

- "2014 represented the first full year after the district transitioned to a new emergency dispatching center and recognized substantial technological upgrades related to Advanced Vehicle Locator - AVL - and Mobile Data Terminal - MDT. AVL service utilizes global-positioning-system technology and allows the closest available unit to be dispatched based upon location, versus using a system of designated areas of response. MDT service provides electronically transmitted, real-time patient-information updates to the crews while responding to the call."

- "The district continues to purchase a new ambulance each year and provides the largest ambulance service of all fire districts in St. Louis County. 2014 represented the second full year of the district's modified-staffing model to provide a sixth ambulance in service, improving response times for emergency medical services."

- "The district was the first fire district in St. Louis County to implement a physical abilities test to verify an employee's physical aptitude for firefighting responsibilities. The district mandates successful completion of this test for continued employment."

- "The district's child safety seat program implemented in 2006 has installed over 1,600 safety seats at no cost to residents."

During 2014, board Chairman Aaron Hilmer was paid $1,850, board Treasurer Bonnie Stegman was paid $1,850 and board Secretary Ed Ryan was paid $1,800 - a total of $5,500."I think your directors' fees are probably the lowest of any district in the county - about $1,800 per director," Offerman said.

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MEHLVILLE FIREFIGHTER HONORED

May 13, 2015 - Call News

MEHLVILLE - The Kiwanis Club of South County recently honored Jake Lickteig of the Mehlville Fire Protection District for the outstanding performance of his duties and service to the community. Besides serving as a paramedic/firefighter, Lickteig conducts classes on safe-driving practices in the evenings. Among the class topics are not texting while driving, seat-belt awareness and the dangers of driving while drinking.

Pictured, from left, are: Assistant Chief Dan LaFata, Capt. Steve Bladdick, Lickteig, Deputy Chief Kent Snelson and Brian Hadler.

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MEHLVILLE FIREFIGHTER PROMOTED TO CAPTAIN


Photo by Call News

May 3, 2015 - Call News

MEHLVILLE, MO. - The Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors voted earlier this week to promote Tim Block to the rank of captain.

Block is an 18-year veteran of the district. Before his promotion, he was assigned to the district's Rescue Squad. He is a member of the Rope Rescue Team and the Boat Rescue Team, and is a paramedic.

Block, a lifelong south county resident, will be stationed at Engine House No. 6 on Telegraph Road. He is pictured with Chief Brian Hendricks, left.

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FIREFIGHTER PROMOTED TO CAPTAIN


Ed Glatzel Jr., center, is pictured with Mehlville Fire Protection District Chief Brian Hendricks and Board of Directors Treasurer Bonnie Stegman.

February 4, 2015 - Call Newspaper

MEHLVILLE - The Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors recently voted unanimously to promote Ed Glatzel Jr. to the rank of captain.

Glatzel has been employed by the fire district since April 1999. His father, Ed Glatzel Sr., worked for the fire district for almost 30 years, retiring as a captain.

Ed Glatzel Jr., center, is pictured with MFPD Chief Brian Hendricks and Board of Directors Treasurer Bonnie Stegman.

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STEGMAN UNOPPOSED FOR MFPD BOARD SEAT

January 21, 2015 - Call Newspaper

MEHLVILLE - Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors Treasurer Bonnie Stegman is unopposed in her re-election bid.

Stegman was first elected to a four-year term in 2005 and re-elected to a full six-year term in 2009.

Because no one filed to oppose Stegman in April, no election will be conducted. The seat carries a six-year term.

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MOST FIRE DISTRICT EMPLOYEES TO RECEIVE ONE-TIME PAYMENT OF $924

December 24, 2014 - Call Newspaper
By Mike Anthony Executive Editor

MELVILLE - The majority of Mehlville Fire Protection District employees will receive a one-time payment of $924 as a result of a surplus distribution from the district's workers' compensation insurance trust.

The Board of Directors voted unanimously last week to divide the $114,595.67 surplus evenly among the 124 employees who have worked for Mehlville for more than one year and are actively employed as of Dec. 30.

The $924 is based on a preliminary calculation, according to Chief Financial Officer Brian Bond, who noted that the one-time payment will not modify the district's 2015 budget that was adopted earlier this month.

At the Dec. 17 board meeting, Bond said, "... The Missouri Fire and Ambulance Districts' Insurance Trust, who is the trust that we have our workers' compensation insurance through, has approved a surplus distribution related to the years 2004 and 2005. That means there were some claims that were open that have been resolved to the point that now they're able to close out those years.

"I realize it was a decade ago, but sometimes it takes awhile to resolve certain matters, not necessarily related to our district, but perhaps other districts that participate in the trust."

Bond added, "This surplus distribution is the result of actual claims not exceeding the premiums that were charged for the respective years for all participants in the trust."

In the past, Mehlville has received surplus distributions, he said, noting that from 1996 to 2013, the district received surplus distributions totaling $951,571.47.

Since 1996, the district's workers' compensation experience modification factor, which is based on claims submitted, has decreased to 0.95 from 1.25, Bond said. The experience modification factor is applied to the district's annual preliminary premium, and increases or decreases the premium, he added.

"An experience modification factor of less than 1 discounts the premium, which is the current situation here at the Mehlville Fire District ...," Bond said.

The chief financial officer said the district's 2014 and 2015 budgets did not include employee salary increases, other than step increases.

While both budgets projected surpluses, the surplus revenue was reserved for a variety of future expenditures.

"So our recommendation that we're bringing forward to the board tonight is that since these surplus funds were not anticipated, it's recommended that the distribution be passed through with the employees, who have not had any pay increases the past two years," Bond said. "The payment will serve as an incentive to employees to continue their dedication to safe working practices ..."

Board Chairman Aaron Hilmer noted that when he and board Treasurer Bonnie Stegman first ran for office in 2005, they questioned the need for Proposition S, a 33-cent tax-rate increase that had been approved by voters in November 2004.

Hilmer and Stegman ran a reform campaign in which they pledged to eliminate fiscal waste and roll back the 33-cent tax-rate increase.

During the process leading up to placing Proposition S on the ballot, district officials projected that workers' compensation premiums would increase dramatically in the coming years.

For example, annual increases of 20 percent were projected for workers' compensation and property insurance premiums. In 2004, the district paid $759,859.

Those premiums were projected to rise to $5,645,816 in 2015 - a 642-percent increase over the 2004 cost.

After taking office, Hilmer said reducing the district's workers' compensation premium became a priority. In December 2005, the board voted 2-1 to hire a consultant to assist the district in formulating new workers' compensation guidelines and a minimum level of fitness policy.

Hilmer and Stegman voted in favor of hiring the consultant, while then-board Secretary Dan Ottoline was opposed.

Before that vote was taken, Hilmer noted that the district's premiums for workers' compensation had increased by more than $560,000 since 2000 - to $892,616 from $332,311.

As a result of the reforms enacted by the board, the district's workers' compensation premium is $567,000 for 2015 and $582,000 for 2014. Hilmer noted last week that while the district has reaped benefits from the changes to the workers' compensation program, a big factor was also that employees bought into the changes.

"... We can only create policy. We can hire administrators to enforce it, but at some point the buy-in really helps, and I think we've had that. You can even call it a culture change," he said. "So when (Chief) Brian (Hendricks) presented this to me, I thought it would be a good idea to say, 'Hey, we did it, but we also had help along the way now so we could do that ...'"

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FIRE DISTRICT EARNS AWARD FOR FINANCIAL REPORTING


Photo by St. Louis Fire Department

December 10, 2014 - Call News

MEHLVILLE - The Mehlville Fire Protection District recently earned a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada for its 2013 financial statements.

This is the 16th consecutive year the district has received this recognition.

"... This is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by our government and our management ...," Chief Financial Officer Brian Bond told the Board of Directors last month. "... I just wanted to share that information with the board that we had received a glowing review from the association and it represents to the taxpayers the good job we do with transparency and sharing with them the financial update of our organization."

The fire district's 2013 financial statements have been judged by an impartial panel to meet the high standards of the nonprofit association's program, according to a news release.

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PARACHUTIST IS RESCUED FROM RADIO TOWER IN SOUTH ST. LOUIS COUNTY


Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

October 31, 2014 - St. Louis Post Dispatch By Valerie Schremp Hahn vhahn@post-dispatch.com 314-340-8246

MEHLVILLE - Firefighters rescued a parachutist who got stuck on the guy wires of a radio tower in south St. Louis County late Thursday.

Authorities got the call about 9:30 p.m. He was pulled to safety by rescuers from the Mehlville Fire Protection District about 11:45 p.m.

The man was about 155 feet high and about 20 feet from the tower, in the 5400 block of Butler Hill Road, said Brian Hendricks, chief of the Mehlville Fire Protection District.

"It appears this was a BASE jump that went wrong," Hendricks said.

BASE jumping is when someone climbs a cliff or fixed object - like a building, tower or bridge" and parachutes off it.

A firefighter climbed the tower and passed the parachutist an anchor to hold him in place. The chutist was then able release himself from his parachute. He was then lowered to the ground.

A small group of neighbors who gathered at the scene applauded after the man was safely on the ground.

The chutist appeared to be in his mid-20s. He had a cellphone with him and was talking with rescuers on the ground. He walked to an ambulance before being taken away.

The chutist was in distress because of suspension trauma, but he was able to follow rescuers' directions.

It was not known how high the man had climbed before he jumped and got tangled.

The Mehlville district has had its own high angle rope rescue team for years, Hendricks said, and trains for such events.

"It worked incredibly," Hendricks said. "It couldn't have gone any better for us."

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VIDEO OF AREA FIREFIGHTERS TRAINING FOR DANGEROUS SITUATIONS

October 22, 2014 - KTVI

MEHLVILLE, MO. - Firefighters from Mehlville, Affton and Lemay are training for dangerous situations.

This is video of a training exercise they performed Wednesday morning. The firefighters practiced removing victims from three types of accidents. Car versus car, car versus school bus and car versus dump truck. All situations the firefighters say they need to be prepared for.

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KIWANIS CLUB HONORS FIREFIGHTER

Pictured, from left, are: Capt. Dan Rosenthal, Deputy Chief Tim Dempsey, Pvt. Tim Block and Deputy Chief Dan Furrer.

October 22, 2014 - Call Newspapers

MEHLVILLE - Capt. Dan Rosenthal of the Mehlville Fire Protection District recently was honored as Officer of the Quarter by the Kiwanis Club of South County. He was selected for the honor on the basis of his longtime service to the community and the outstanding work he does with Strike Team 3 and the district's Boat and Rope teams.

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FIREFIGHTERS BATTLE 3-ALARM BLAZE AT SOUTH ST. LOUIS COUNTY APARTMENT COMPLEX


Photo by KMOV

October 9, 2014 - KMOV

ST. LOUIS COUNTY - Firefighters are currently battling a 3-alarm fire at an apartment complex in south St. Louis County.

Fire crews were called to the 3700 block of Huntington Valley Drive around 8:30 a.m. for the blaze.

Stay tuned to News 4 and KMOV.com for the latest in this developing news.

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EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY - FIREFIGHTER/MEDIC

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FIREFIGHTERS PARTICIPATE IN TRENCH-RESCUE TRAINING


Photo by Mehlville Fire District

September 17, 2014 - Call Newspapers By Mike Anthony Executive Editor

MEHLVILLE - Mehlville Fire Protection District firefighters participated in a training class last week at Clydesdale Park in Green Park to earn their certification as trench-rescue technicians.

Roughly 25 MFPD firefighters participated in the four-day trench-rescue technician class offered by the University of Missouri-Columbia's Fire and Rescue Training Institute, according to Assistant Chief Dan LaFata.

".... To earn a certification, you have to do a scenario in three different kinds of trenches - an L-shaped trench, a straight trench and a T-shaped trench," LaFata said.

With the roughly 25 firefighters certified in last week's class, Mehlville now has about 50 certified trench-rescue technicians.

"With this (class), we now have 50 people that are deployable with other statewide teams," LaFata said, adding that's nearly half of the district's 117 firefighters.

The assistant chief emphasized that even though this was a training class, working with trenches is never completely safe as the three types of trenches used for the class are a minimum of 8 feet deep.

".... When you smoke up a building with fake smoke for firefighter training, there's really little chance of getting hurt," he said. "This is a live trench. You can never make these safe - 100 percent .... One thing these guys will all do after this class is they'll notice how many trenches are being dug in the district right now. Anytime you see a backhoe on the side of the road, there's a trench next to it."

Firefighters participated in 40 hours of training for the class, including one day in the classroom and three days of working in the trenches, according to LaFata.

Of the training, he said, "This incorporates all of the incident-command features, teamwork, carpentry skills, knowledge of specialized tools. That's why is such a good training (class)." Digging a trench "is not a do-it-yourself project" and should be left to professionals, LaFata said.

"Typically, when we have a trench rescue, it's someone who has rented a backhoe and gotten in a little bit deeper than they should of ....," he said. "If a trench collapses on you, that dirt weighs so much. If it doesn't break you in half, it will suffocate you because you won't be able to expand your chest."

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FINANCIAL CONDITION OF MFPD REMAINS STRONG

July 9, 2014 - Call Newspapers

MEHLVILLE - The financial condition of the Mehlville Fire Protection remains strong, with its net position increasing by nearly $1.1 million during fiscal 2013.

The Board of Directors recently voted unanimously to approve the fire district's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, audited by Hochschild, Bloom & Co., for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2013.

Robert Offerman of Hochschild, Bloom & Co. told the board June 25 that the district received an "unqualified opinion" on its 2013 financial statements - the best possible opinion that can be given.

In addition, the fire district earned a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association for its 2012 financial statements.

This is the 15th consecutive year the district has received this recognition. The district also will send its 2013 statements to the association for certificate qualification, according to Chief Financial Officer Brian Bond.

In 2013, the district's total net position - total assets - increased by $1,092,243, to $38,087,310 from $36,995,067 in 2012. That amounts to a 2.95-percent increase, according to the report.

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I-55 CLOSED NEAR BUTLER HILL RD. FOLLOWING 3-ALARM TRUCK FIRE

June 19, 2014 - KMOV

ST. LOUIS COUNTY - All lanes of Interstate 55 in both directions are closed near Butler Hill Road following a tractor trailer fire.

Firefighters from Mehlville, Fenton, Valley Park and the Rock Community Fire Department are responding to the scene. Hazmat crews have been called to the scene.

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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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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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MEHLVILLE FIRE DISTRICT UNION EMPLOYEES RENEW CALL TO NEGOTIATE AGREEMENT

February 25, 2014 - Call Newspapers

MEHLVILLE - The Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors voted last week to approve myriad changes to the district's employee manual, but a union representative again requested that negotiations begin on a collective-bargaining agreement.

International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2665 Executive Vice President Brad Peters addressed the board Feb. 19, saying the district's union employees want to begin negotiations to reach a collective-bargaining agreement with the Board of Directors.

Last month, MFPD Capt. Nick Fahs, who serves as Local 2665 7th District vice president, addressed the board, saying union employees would like to "... open some discussions to maybe come together and form a collective-bargaining agreement that everybody would be happy with. We have nothing earth-shattering on the table. We think it would be a pleasant process."

But board Treasurer Bonnie Stegman told Fahs the board prefers to use the district's Employee Manual of Policies and Procedures, or EMoPP, as the presiding document for union employees, who are welcome to bring written proposals to the board that can be discussed in open session.

MFPD union employees have not operated under a memorandum of understanding, or MOU, since Dec. 31, 2002. In September 2007, the board voted unanimously to adopt the EMoPP.

The employee manual covers such policies and procedures as probation, personnel reduction, termination, salaries, benefits, minimum manning requirements, unscheduled overtime, trade time, promotional guidelines, grievances, educational benefits, leaves of absence, sick leave, workers' compensation and discipline.

Peters told the board, "... Part of my duties at 2665 is to oversee collective bargaining and collective-bargaining agreements within the shops that we represent, Mehlville being one of those shops. I understand that our shop steward came forward in the January meeting requesting some collective-bargaining negotiations and it's of the opinion of this board that the EMoPP from this district is the collective-bargaining agreement you would like to work under.

"We have a difference of opinion in the local of that, that we would like a separate agreement of a collective-bargaining agreement ... So you should have a letter in your possession that I mailed last week to you guys. I want to know if you had any questions on that letter or when I should expect a response back from that."

Stegman said, "Well, we actually just got it tonight ... So we really haven't had a chance to discuss it, but we will and we should have a response shortly."

Peters said, "Excellent. Thank you."

In December, the board and administration proposed myriad changes to the EMoPP. Stegman told the Call the changes were "minor."

In a Jan. 3 letter to Chief Brian Hendricks, Local 2665 Shop Steward Michael Yemm wrote, "... While I completely understand that the district has the right to establish safe and effective policies and procedures, some of the items in the employee manual seem to be better placed into a collective-bargaining agreement.

"Therefore, I would like to respectfully request that we begin the process of entering into negotiations to establish a collective-bargaining agreement between the Mehlville Fire Protection District and the Mehlville Firefighters Shop of IAFF Local 2665 ..."

MFPD employees formerly were members of IAFF 1889, but merged with Local 2665 in September 2011.

MFPD union employees' last MOU was negotiated by the Board of Directors and Local 1889. That three-year pact, approved in 1999, covered 2000, 2001 and 2002.

Under that pact, district employees were given increases in their base salaries ranging from 15.48 percent to 19.15 percent over the three years.

The proposed EMoPP changes were on the board's Feb. 5 agenda, but no representatives of Local 2665 attended the meeting.

Regarding the proposed EMoPP changes, board Chairman Aaron Hilmer said last week, "... We've had some changes sitting out there for a couple months ... We've never heard anything back, so I make a motion we approve the EMoPP changes."

Hilmer's motion was seconded by board Secretary Ed Ryan and unanimously approved.

In his Feb. 12 letter, Peters cited a "Missouri Supreme Court decision of November 2012, which declared public-sector employers have an affirmative duty under Article I, Section 29 of the Constitution of the state of Missouri to collectively bargain in good faith with their employees with the intent to reach an agreement."

Peters proposed both sides meet May 1 to begin negotiations.

"The bargaining unit will prepare a comprehensive contract proposal that it would like to present to the district at that time to begin the negotiation process," he wrote. "At that time, we would also like to set a time line in order to ensure ample time for dialogue as the district proceeds through its annual budget process, with regards to items included in the collective-bargaining agreement that may have an impact on the district's FY (fiscal year) 2015 budget."

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FIREFIGHTERS BATTLE EARLY-MORNING BLAZE IN SOUTH ST. LOUIS COUNTY

January 07, 2014 - KMOV

MEHLVILLE - Crews battled a blaze in south St. Louis County early Tuesday morning.

Firefighters received a call just before 2 a.m. for a fire at a building in the 3000 block of Yaeger Road in Oakville.

According to the fire department, firefighters got the fire under control within 45 minutes.

Everyone inside the building made it out safely. No injuries were reported.

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NATIONAL GUARDSMAN RESCUES RESIDENTS FROM 2-ALARM FIRE AT SOUTH COUNTY APARTMENTS

December 9, 2013 - KMOV

MEHLVILLE - Authorities say a National Guardsman helped rescue several residents from a two-alarm fire in south St. Louis County early Monday morning.

The fire broke out at an apartment in the 1100 block of Lemay Manor Ln. in Mehlville around 6:15 a.m.

Dan Reece, a pilot and member of the Air National Guard was on his way to training when he saw smoke and pulled off the highway to help.

He then started busting through windows to help the people inside, many of whom are disabled and in wheelchairs.

Reece told News 4 he, two other men and a St. Louis County police officer made sure everyone got out of the building safely.

Firefighters arrived moments later and distinguished the blaze.

When asked why he decided to help, Reece said it was just what he was supposed to do. "In the National Guard, in the Missouri National Guard, we save Americans," he said. "It's my job, whether it's overseas or here, it's what we do."

Reece later reiterated he wasn't a hero, but did what "anybody could do or should do to save someone's life."

One man went to the hospital this, but everyone expected to be OK.

The Red Cross posted on its Twitter account disaster volunteers provided food and clothing to an adult affected by the fire.

The cause of the blaze was unknown.

Additional information was not immediately available.

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FIREFIGHTERS BATTLE TWO-ALARM FIRE IN SOUTH ST. LOUIS COUNTY

December 9, 2013 - KSDK

MEHLVILLE - South St. Louis County firefighters are responding to a two-alarm fire in an apartment building early Monday morning.

Firefighters found smoke and fire in the 1100 block of Lemay Manor Lane, which is north of Interstate 255 and east of Lemay Ferry Road.

Preliminary reports indicate all occupants are out and no injuries are reported.

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FATAL FIRE: 7-YEAR-OLD FIRE VICTIM IDENTIFIED; SISTER, GRANDMOTHER ESCAPE

October 21, 2013 - KTVI

MEHLVILLE - A seven year-old boy lost his life in an overnight fire in Mehlville. It happened early Monday morning on the 700 block of Hinder Drive. Now, the tight-knit neighborhood is devastated.

Just after midnight, neighbor Lynn Boland called 911 as soon as her sister saw flames and heard screaming. She says, "I had gotten outside and saw the 70 year-old grandmother who lives in this house down on the ground, she had just jumped from a 2-story window."

St. Louis County Police say the grandmother, Elizabeth Sanders, broke her right heel as she fell. Meanwhile, 13 year-old Angela Davis and her brother, Brian, tried to escape the burning home. At some point they got separated, and only Angela got out. Their parents were not home at the time.

Boland recalls, "They finally got the little boy outand I saw him get carried away, and they put him on a gurney and took him away. I heard the newsand it's very sad what happened because he's a sweet, sweet little boy."

Seven year-old Brian Davis was pronounced dead at St. Anthony's Medical Center less than an hour later. Police say he wasn't burned, but died from smoke inhalation.

Neighbor Millie Hea says this tragedy comes after the boy's grandmother lost her husband last year. Now, her home of 35 years is gone, along with her precious grandson.

Hea says, "Brian was such a sweet little kid, so friendly, my gosh, he visited every neighbor, he never failed to say hi, even if he was down at his houseand I was three houses away he would never fail to say hi, Millie."

All morning, crime tape surrounded the home as the Bomb and Arson Unit conducted their investigation. Meanwhile, Hea is desperate to know what caused the fire, desperate for some sort of closure: "Poor Liz, poor little Angela, losing her brother. What could have happened?"

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Mehlville home damaged in early morning blaze

KMOV.com Posted on August 30, 2012 at 7:49 AM MEHLVILLE, Mo. Fire crews were called to a single-story house fire in south St. Louis County early Thursday morning.

No word on what caused the blaze to break out inside a home on the 5700 block of White Pine Dr. shortly after 6 a.m.

The home was occupied at the time of the fire but everyone was able to make it out safely, no report of injuries at this time.

The damage to the home appears to be extensive.

Fire officials are investigating.
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Mehlville Fire District Mourns Alongside One of its Firefighters

August 28, 2013 - Call Newspapers

MEHLVILLE - The Mehlville Fire Protection District is mourning alongside one of its own firefighters who lost three family members in a house fire early Tuesday morning.

Mike Gapsch, who has been an MFPD firefighter for almost 20 years, was on duty early Tuesday morning and responded to a fire at his mother's house at 10005 St. Simon Court. Although Gapsch and the other responding firefighters pulled out all three of Gapsch's family members trapped in the house within three minutes of their arrival at the scene, all three later died from their injuries.

"This is something that's touched incredibly close to home," MFPD Chief Brian Hendricks said Thursday afternoon. "(Gapsch) lives with these people 24 hours a day. All of our crews have suffered (and) are hurting at this time ... One of our own has suffered what is safe to say is every firefighter's nightmare, and that is responding to a call for a loved one."

Mike Gapsch's nephew T.J. Gapsch, 38, was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital. Mike Gapsch's mother, Georgetta, 79, died Wednesday morning at St. Anthony's Medical Center, and T.J. Gapsch's youngest daughter, Maci Gapsch (photo), 11, died Wednesday night at Mercy Hospital.

"It's one of the worst nightmares we could imagine, and we're just trying to get through it hour by hour," Mike Gapsch said. "We'll make it through."

The St. Louis County Police are investigating the cause of the fire, which they believe started in the basement. T.J. Gapsch escaped from his basement bedroom by crawling through a window and then went back into the house to rescue his oldest daughter, Mia Gapsch, 13, who then ran to a neighbor's house to call for help. T.J. Gapsch went back inside to rescue Maci, who attended Sappington Elementary and began attending Sperreng Middle School as a sixth-grader this year. Mia is a seventh-grader at Sperreng.

"Maci was always helpful and sweet," stated Daren Wolf, a fifth-grade teacher at Sappington, in a Lindbergh Schools news release. "She was just a wonderful friend to all of her classmates and always a good student. We will all miss her very much."

Lindbergh Schools added extra counselors at Sperreng on Thursday, and fellow students signed cards for the Gapsch family. The district emailed Sappington and Sperreng parents to let them know about additional counseling resources. Funeral services for Maci will be conducted next week, according to district officials.

The MFPD plans to sponsor a barbecue fundraiser for the family on Sept. 6 and Sept. 7, at a location yet to be determined. The event will be co-sponsored by the St. Louis County Police Department.

Mia's mother died several years ago of cancer, so her closest relatives are her three grandparents, Mike Gapsch noted. A fund set up by the Lindbergh Schools Foundation to support the family and the money raised by the MFPD will go to pay for her college education, he added. People have offered to donate from as far away as Texas and New Mexico.

Mia was discharged from the hospital Thursday and is staying with a godmother. She suffered minor injuries in the fire, according to a Lindbergh news release.

"She's overwhelmed by what has happened, but she's doing better than I would have thought," Mike Gapsch said. "She's going to need a lot of time" Her mother died of cancer. She's gone through so much. Everything we're doing, we're doing for her."

Georgetta's husband and Mike Gapsch's father, Leroy Gapsch, was once a captain in the Mehlville Fire Protection District. He died in 1998.

The excellent training of MFPD firefighters showed in their "textbook rescue" of Gapsch's family members, Mike Gapsch said. He knew heading to the scene that the fire was at his mother's house and that three people were trapped inside. He was not the first firefighter to enter but when he did, it helped that he knew the layout of the house, and he rescued his mother.

The swift response of his fellow firefighters gave his family members a chance to survive by getting immediate medical attention at the scene within four minutes of the firefighters' arrival, Mike Gapsch said.

"There was a reason it happened," he said. "There was a reason I was on duty."

Although he knew it was his mother's house, when he entered the front door, Mike Gapsch was in firefighting mode, he said, helped by the extensive training MFPD firefighters receive.

"We train and we train and we train," he said. "When I hit the front door, I didn't think about it being my mom's house."

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2 Dead, 1 Critical after House Fire in South St. Louis County

August 27, 2013 - KMOV

MEHLVILLE - Two people are dead after a house caught fire in Mehlville early Tuesday morning.

According to authorities, four people were sleeping at a home near the intersection of Tesson Ferry and St. Simon around 1 a.m. when a 13-year-old girl woke up and noticed smoke.

The child ran to a neighbor's house and they called authorities. Police arrived to the home and attempted to go inside, but heavy smoke forced them out.

Firefighters responded to the scene and quickly distinguished the one-alarm blaze before rescuing two adults and one child from the home.

The two adults, 79-year-old Georgetta Gapsch and 38-year-old Terry Gapsch, were transported to the hospital where they were pronounced dead. Maci Gapsch, 11, was hospitalized in critical condition.

The 13-year-old, Mia Gapsch, was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

Authorities said the fire appeared to have started in either the basement of the house.St. Louis County Police arson units were investigating the cause.

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Second Victim Dies of Injuries in South County House Fire

August 28, 2013 - St. Louis Post Dispatch

MEHLVILLE - A woman whose firefighter son was among rescuers who pulled her from a house fire on Tuesday morning has died, a hospital spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Georgette Gapsch, 79, died at 12:06 a.m. Wednesday at St. Anthony's Medical Center.

She is the second victim of the house fire at 10005 St. Simon Court in south St. Louis County. The fire, still under investigation, apparently started in the basement and quickly filled the house with smoke.

Her grandson, Terry "T.J." Gapsch, 38, died Tuesday. Two of her great-granddaughters were injured.

Maci Gapsch, 11, was in critical condition Wednesday morning at Mercy Hospital St. Louis, and Mia Gapsch, 13, was in satisfactory condition. Terry Gapsch was the father of the two girls who were injured. The girls' mother died three years ago of cancer, a relative said.

The fire at Georgette Gapsch's home was reported at 1:25 a.m. Tuesday when Mia Gapsch ran to a neighbor's home for help. She told police three of her relatives were still inside, but an officer could not get in because of the heavy smoke.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. St. Louis County Police Officer Rick Eckhard said Wednesday morning that the preliminary report lists the basement as the most likely place of origin, and the fire does not appear suspicious.

A statement from the Gapsch family said they believe T.J. Gapsch awakened Mia and guided her out, and then she ran to a neighbor's house for help. Family members said they believed T.J. Gapsch went back into the house and tried to rescue Maci.

Family members said T.J.'s uncle and Georgette's son, Michael Gapsch, is a firefighter with the Mehlville Fire Protection District and was one of the first on the scene. He and other firefighters helped pull Georgette Gapsch and Maci Gapsch from the home while trying to put out the fire.

The Lindbergh School District has set up a fund to help the family. Contributions may be made to: Lindbergh Schools, c/o Gapsch Family Fund at 4900 S. Lindbergh Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63126. Write - Gapsch Family Fund - in the memo line.

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Resident Charged With Starting Fire at Brazilia Apartments in Oakville

July 25, 2013 - Mehlville-Oakville Patch

OAKVILLE - An Oakville woman was charged for setting fire to her bedroom at Brazilia Apartments on Sunday.

Charitta Arman, 23, of the 4200 block of Casa Brazilia Drive in Oakville, was charged Tuesday with first-degree arson.

St. Louis County Police said Arman admitted starting a fire in her bedroom. Other people were in the apartment building at the time, police said.

Arman is being held in the St. Louis County Justice Center. Bail was set at $75,000, cash only.

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Auditor Reports Fire District in Solid Financial Condition

July 3, 2013 - Call Newspaper

MEHLVILLE - The Mehlville Fire Protection District is in solid financial condition, with its net position increasing by more than $2 million during fiscal 2012.

The Board of Directors voted unanimously last week to approve the district's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, audited by Hochschild, Bloom & Co., for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2012.

Robert Offerman of Hochschild, Bloom & Co. told the board June 26 that the district received an "unqualified opinion" on its 2012 financial statements - the best possible opinion that can be given.

In addition, the district earned a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association for its 2011 financial statements.

This is the 14th consecutive year the district has received this recognition. The district also will send its 2012 statements to the association for certificate qualification.

"... The finances look pretty good. The district still looks financially strong ...," Offerman told the board June 26.

During 2012, the district's net position - total assets - increased by $2,069,341, to $36,995,067 from $34,925,726 in 2011.

"... Your net position went up by about $2.1 million, or about almost a 6-percent increase in your net position for this fiscal year," Offerman said, noting the district has more than $45.5 million of assets and liabilities totaling more than $8.5 million.

The district's assets increased in fiscal 2012 by roughly $2.3 million - 5.41 percent - and liabilities increased by about $266,000 - 3.22 percent.

"... The biggest increase in the liability actually was from the obligation for the pension ...," he said, referring to the district's defined-benefit pension plan, which the board voted to change to a defined-contribution plan in March 2006.

During 2012, revenues increased by $609,831 - 2.89 percent - to $21,733,650 from $21,123,819 in 2011.

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Central County 911 to Start Dispatching Mehlville this Week

June 26, 2013 - Call Newspaper

MEHLVILLE - Central County Emergency 911 is scheduled to begin providing dispatching services for the Mehlville Fire Protection District this week.

MFPD Chief Brian Hendricks told the Call that Central County tentatively planned to start providing dispatching services today - June 27 - or Friday.

Mehlville's Board of Directors voted in November to approve a five-year contract with Central County for dispatching services, effective July 1.

Using Central County to dispatch MFPD vehicles will significantly decrease the district's response times for medical and fire emergencies, according to Hendricks.

"... It's truly going to be terrific. I'm really looking forward to it ...," the chief said. "It really doesn't get any better than this."

For years, South County Fire Alarm has dispatched Mehlville and several other agencies. But after considering ways the district could provide better service to residents, Hendricks recommended the board approve the contract with Central County, based in Ellisville.

Under the agreement with Central County, all of Mehlville's vehicles have been equipped with the latest in computer technology, including GPS tracking. The contract includes hardware, installation, maintenance and repair of the equipment, significantly reducing Mehlville's current expenditures, according to Hendricks.

Mehlville's seven engine houses currently have boundaries, called still-alarm areas.

Vehicles from a particular engine house respond to all calls that occur within that area. But with Central County's computer-aided dispatching, vehicles no longer will be restricted to the still-alarm area of the house where they are based.

Instead, the vehicle closest to the call - even if it's from another fire protection district or department - will be dispatched, according to D.J. Malone, a Central County dispatcher.

During a visit by the Call to Central County 911 last week, Malone outlined a hypothetical scenario of a vehicle accident at Lindbergh Boulevard and Tesson Ferry Road, saying, "... All we need to do in order to get help started is an address and a problem type ..."

In such a situation, a fire truck and an ambulance would be dispatched, he said.

"So (the computer) takes a snapshot of every single truck that is out there in the county - every single one - and it will choose the two closest," Malone said.

"... It doesn't matter whose jurisdiction, whose district you are, as long as it says ambulance on the side of that truck, you're going to be going," he said. "We are providing the quickest advanced life-support care immediately to get there ...

"This computer system is able to get the closest in ALS care to the scene and that is perfect for the citizens. They haven't gotten this before in the past. It's a great advance in technology and just patient care."

The new technology offered by Central County will allow Mehlville vehicles to be dispatched in a more efficient manner, according to Hendricks.

"Now with these computers, you'll literally hit a button and go in service. They know your status that quick. I don't have to pick up this radio mic ... Central County knows automatically you're able to take a call," he said.

Currently, each call involves four to five radio transmissions, Hendricks said, adding that with Central County, "You can literally run a call and never get on the radio."

In the past, when Mehlville vehicles used the radio to inform South County Fire Alarm of their status, the radio call could be dropped if someone else was making a radio call at the exact same time, he said.

In that case, South County Fire Alarm could be unaware of whether a vehicle was still at a call or ready to take another call.

The chief praised the board's decision to contract with Central County 911, noting that South County Fire Alarm simply cannot provide the same level of technology as Central County.

"... I went to the board and we started having discussions about this. It took some courage from the board. It's easy to say, 'Brian, it's always worked. You know, it's working. What's the problem?' But for my board to have the courage to say, 'This is the future. This is the path and we're willing to put our faith in this organization out here ...'

"We're putting our faith in a group of people we really didn't know very well. But I started to get to know them and I realized how forward-thinking they were ... It was long overdue and it was a terrific decision. I can't thank the board enough for making it happen ... It's the biggest single decision they could have made."

Under the terms of the contract with Central County, the MFPD will pay 3.5 cents per $100 of assessed valuation for dispatching services. The district's current alarm-fund tax rate is 4.4 cents per $100.

Effective July 1, Central County will serve 17 fire protection districts and departments, including Mehlville.

South County Fire Alarm, the first alarm center of its kind in St. Louis County, was established in March 1968 at MFPD Station No. 1. At that time, it provided dispatching services for seven departments, including Mehlville.

On Jan. 1, 1986, the South County Fire Alarm Association incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation. In 1989, the association moved into its current location, the Carl W. Breihan Dispatch Center, behind Mehlville's No. 7 engine house on Lemay Ferry Road.

With Mehlville's switch to Central County, South County Fire Alarm will close, effective July 1. Two MFPD board members - Aaron Hilmer and Bonnie Stegman - sit on the fire alarm's three-member board.

"This was a difficult decision," Hendricks said. "It wasn't a decision taken lightly by the board and for them to have the courage to say, 'This is what's best for the taxpayers that we serve and also to take care of the employees of South County Fire Alarm.'

"My board members made it clear to me, 'Brian, get yourself up to Central County and do whatever you have to do to make sure the employees of South County Fire Alarm get a fair shake. They're going to need dispatchers and we want those dispatchers to come from here.'"

Hendricks said his goal was to ensure South County Fire Alarm employees "had a fair shake when it came to future employment, but it also was to make sure we took care of the employees that weren't going to get jobs here. And the board did that. The board put together very generous severance packages for the employees. We'll do anything and everything to try to get them employment elsewhere. That's just a testament to the board. They took care of everybody.

"They took care of the taxpayers by making the decision (to contract with Central County). They took care of the employees that didn't get employment with a terrific severance package."

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MFPD board files suit against 'Mehlville Fire Fighters'

May 15, 2013 - Call Newspaper

MEHLVILLE - A lawsuit alleging "negligent" violations of the state's campaign-finance-disclosure law has been filed by the Mehlville Fire Protection District against a group called "Mehlville Fire Fighters" and two political action committees.

The fire district's Board of Directors voted unanimously during a recent closed session to pursue the lawsuit against Mehlville Fire Fighters, the Professional Firefighters of Tri-County political action committee, or PAC, and the Citizens for Good Government PAC.

The Citizens for Good Government spent more than $60,000 in direct support of Mike Klund's campaign to unseat MFPD Board of Directors Secretary Ed Ryan in the April 2 election.

Ryan, first elected to the MFPD board in 2007, won election to a second term by defeating Klund. Ryan received 8,075 votes, or 63.1 percent, to Klund's 4,690 votes, or 36.65 percent.

In March, MFPD Board of Directors Chairman Aaron Hilmer filed a lawsuit against the Citizens for Good Government that alleged violations of the state campaign-finance-disclosure law.

Hilmer's lawsuit sought a temporary restraining order and preliminary and permanent injunctions against the Citizens for Good Government to prohibit the committee from spending a contribution of $50,500 it received Feb. 25 from the Professional Firefighters of Tri-County PAC.

On Feb. 5, the Professional Fire Fighters of Tri-County PAC reported a $50,000 contribution from Mehlville Fire Fighters. That same day, the Professional Firefighters of Tri-County PAC reported a $500 contribution from the "International Association of Firefighters Local 1889."

At issue is the source of the $50,000 contribution Mehlville Fire Fighters gave to the Professional Firefighters of Tri-County PAC.

A hearing was not conducted on Hilmer's suit before the April 2 election, and Hilmer dismissed the suit April 29. However, the fire district's three-count suit, filed May 6, incorporates some of the same claims as the previous petition.

The lawsuit alleges Mehlville Fire Fighters and the Professional Firefighters of Tri-County PAC engaged in a "civil conspiracy" to illegally conceal the true source of the $50,000, while the Citizens for Good Government "improperly affected the integrity of the election process."

The lawsuit notes the $50,500 contribution to the Citizens for Good Government from the Professional Firefighters of Tri-County PAC "is the exact same amount (from) a group called the Mehlville Fire Fighters and IAFF Local 1889."

The suit states, "The actual source of the funds accounting for the $50,000 donation to the Professional Firefighters of Tri-County PAC is unknown."

MFPD union employees formerly were members of IAFF Local 1889, but joined IAFF Local 2665 in September 2011. Local 1889 previously operated a political action committee, Fire Fighters Action Committee to Elect, Mehlville Fire Fighters L-1889, but terminated that organization Jan. 9.

The committee's termination report listed Douglas Weck, an MFPD lieutenant, as the "person responsible for maintaining records." Weck was unavailable for comment before the Call's press time.

The suit states, "'Mehlville Fire Fighters' lists an Illinois address and is not registered with the secretary of state in Missouri or Illinois ... IAFF Local 1889 lists the same Illinois address. Upon information and belief, 'Mehlville Fire Fighters' is not registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) ..."

Under the Missouri campaign-finance-disclosure law, "No contribution shall be made or accepted and no expenditures shall be made or incurred, directly or indirectly in a fictitious name, in the name of another person or by or through another person in such a manner as to conceal the identity of the actual source of the contribution ...," the lawsuit states.

"Upon information and belief, the name of the group 'Mehlville Fire Fighters' is a fictitious name," according to the suit.

Jennifer Stuhlman, a firefighter/paramedic for University City, serves as treasurer for both the Citizens for Good Government and Professional Firefighters of Tri-County PAC. She also is a state service representative for the 2nd District of the IAFF and a staff representative for Professional Fire Fighters of Eastern Missouri Local 2665.

She was unavailable for comment before the Call's press time.

When previously asked about Mehlville Fire Fighters, Stuhlman told the Call, "To my knowledge, they're a group of firefighters that work for the Mehlville Fire Protection District."

The lawsuit specifically alleges the Professional Firefighters of Tri-County PAC violated state law "by accepting the funds from an unknown group," while the Citizens for Good Government violated state law "by receiving transferred money from the Professional Firefighters of Tri-County PAC because it came from an unknown source."

Hilmer told the Call the MFPD Board of Directors wants to know the source of the $50,000.

"... By Miss Stuhlman's own admission, it's a group of people who work at Mehlville," he said.

The initial lawsuit he filed against the Citizens for Good Government was not "an election stunt" designed to help Ryan get re-elected to the board, Hilmer said.

"... It had really nothing to do with that because, as the results show, they ran a candidate so inept he could only do 3 percentage points better than a write-in candidate (Dennis Skelton) did against Ed (Ryan) six years ago," he said.

The Citizens for Good Government funded mailers asking voters to support Klund and alleging "wasteful spending" and "mismanagement" by Ryan and the fire district.

"... We are a business. We are the Mehlville Fire Protection District, no different than a private business would be and there is, by their own admission, a group of employees who are clearly busting every tenet of the campaign-finance law to print a bunch of garbage about their employer. So we want to know who are these people and who is funding this. That's really what it comes down to, the source of the $50,000.

"If they would have followed campaign-finance laws, we would all know that. But they've gone to great lengths to conceal their identity."

The suit asks the court to award the Mehlville Fire Protection District "damages in excess of $25,000, but less than $75,000," plus court costs and attorney fees.

The fire district's legal counsel, Mathew Hoffman, told the Call, "... The issue of damages is to be determined. We are trying to uncover the source of the funds and the legitimacy of the groups involved.

"This is not an attempt to raise revenue for the district, but we also need to assess the validity and potential impact of the use of the Mehlville name."

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Ryan defeats Klund in race for fire board seat

April 3, 2013 - Call Newspaper

MEHLVILLE - With all precincts reporting, incumbent Ed Ryan has defeated challenger Mike Klund in today's election for a seat on the Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors.

Ryan tallied 8,075 votes - 63.1 percent - with 68 of 68 precincts reporting, while Klund garnered 4,690 votes - 36.65 percent - according to unofficial results released by the St. Louis County Board of Election Commissioners.

Ryan currently serves as board secretary.

Klund ran unsuccessfully in 2011 for the seat of Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors Chairman Aaron Hilmer.

Klund, 54, of Lemay, is a small-business owner and is endorsed this year by the Greater St. Louis Labor Council, the South County Legislative Labor Club and International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2665, according to a mailer funded by the St. Louis Labor Council AFL-CIO Project 2000. He is also supported by a new political action committee, or PAC, Citizens for Good Government. The group shares a treasurer, Jennifer Stuhlman, with the Professional Firefighters of Tri-County PAC, which donated $50,500 to the Citizens for Good Government in February, after receiving a $50,000 donation from "Mehlville Fire Fighters."

Hilmer has sued Citizens for Good Government on behalf of the district, alleging campaign-finance law violations, including an effort to conceal the source of political donations. Citizens for Good Government has mailed letters and fliers endorsing Klund and attacking Ryan.

Two years ago, Klund's committee and another committee formed to support his candidacy, Friends of the Mehlville Fire District, raised more than $100,000 for Klund's campaign to unseat Hilmer, mostly from donations by Local 1889 and the national IAFF. Hilmer narrowly won that race, 48.9 percent to Klund's 47.5 percent.

Ryan, 69, 10682 Hackamore Lane, Concord, is a retired electrical engineer/project manager for the Parkway School District and is married to MaryAnn.

Ryan was elected to the board in 2007.

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Klund challenges Ryan for MFPD board seat

March 27, 2013 - Call Newspapers

MEHLVILLE - Mike Klund, who ran unsuccessfully in 2011 for the seat of Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors Chairman Aaron Hilmer, is challenging incumbent board Secretary Ed Ryan for his seat in the Tuesday, April 2, election.

Asked to identify the most important issue in the race, Ryan responded: "Keeping the board responsible to the taxpayer. Five boards in the 1990s and 2000 to 2005 showed a complete lack of responsibility to the taxpayer and made a long list of bad decisions that almost bankrupted the budget."

Klund did not reply to a Call questionnaire.

Klund, 54, of Lemay, is a small-business owner and is endorsed this year by the Greater St. Louis Labor Council, the South County Legislative Labor Club and International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2665, according to a mailer funded by the St. Louis Labor Council AFL-CIO Project 2000. He is also supported by a new political action committee, or PAC, Citizens for Good Government. The group shares a treasurer, Jennifer Stuhlman, with the Professional Firefighters of Tri-County PAC, which donated $50,500 to the Citizens for Good Government in February, after receiving a $50,000 donation from "Mehlville Fire Fighters."

Hilmer has sued Citizens for Good Government on behalf of the district, alleging campaign-finance law violations, including an effort to conceal the source of political donations. Citizens for Good Government has mailed letters and fliers endorsing Klund and attacking Ryan. Two years ago, Klund's committee and another committee formed to support his candidacy, Friends of the Mehlville Fire District, raised more than $100,000 for Klund's campaign to unseat Hilmer, mostly from donations by Local 1889 and the national IAFF. Hilmer narrowly won that race, 48.9 percent to Klund's 47.5 percent.

Ryan, 69, 10682 Hackamore Lane, Concord, is a retired electrical engineer/project manager for the Parkway School District and is married to MaryAnn. Ryan, who was elected to the board in 2007, said he is seeking re-election "to continue the 'reform effort,' provide superior emergency services (and) keep the tax rate low." Asked if he was endorsed by any groups this year, he said, "My only endorsement will come from the taxpayer. That is who I work for and that I am proud to serve."

For answers to Ryan's questionnaire (click below):

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Lawsuit filed against committee supporting Klund's election bid

March 13, 2013 - Call Newspapers

MEHLVILLE - A lawsuit was filed last week against a new political action committee that is supporting Mike Klund (photo) in his bid to unseat Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors Secretary Ed Ryan in the April 2 election.

The lawsuit against the Citizens for Good Government political action committee, or PAC, alleges violations of the state campaign-finance-disclosure law.

MFPD Board of Directors Chairman Aaron Hilmer filed the suit March 7 in St. Louis County Circuit Court.

As reported last week by the Call, Citizens for Good Government Treasurer Jennifer Stuhlman said her PAC "possibly" may support a candidate in the fire board race, but she declined to identify which candidate.

A letter from Klund sent to MFPD households last week was paid for by the Citizens for Good Government.

Hilmer's lawsuit seeks a temporary restraining order, preliminary and permanent injunctions against the Citizens for Good Government that would prohibit the committee from spending a contribution of $50,500 it received Feb. 25 from the Professional Firefighters of Tri-County PAC.

On Feb. 5, the Professional Fire Fighters of Tri-County PAC reported a $50,000 contribution from "Mehlville Fire Fighters."

That same day, the Professional Firefighters of Tri-County PAC reported a $500 contribution from the "International Association of Firefighters Local 1889."

Besides being treasurer of the Citizens for Good Government, which was organized in late January, Stuhlman is treasurer of the Professional Firefighters of Tri-County PAC.

Hilmer is represented by Mathew Hoffman, who serves as legal counsel for the Mehlville Fire Protection District.

The lawsuit notes the $50,500 contribution to the Citizens for Good Government from the Professional Firefighters of Tri-County PAC "is the exact same amount (from) a group called the Mehlville Fire Fighters and IAFF Local 1889."

"'Mehlville Fire Fighters' lists an Illinois address and is not registered with the secretary of state in Missouri or Illinois ... IAFF Local 1889 lists the same Illinois address. Upon information and belief, 'Mehlville Fire Fighters' is not registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) ...," the suit states.

"Upon information and belief, the name of the group 'Mehlville Fire Fighters' is a fictitious name," according to the suit.

Under the Missouri campaign-finance-disclosure law, "No contribution shall be made or accepted and no expenditures shall be made or incurred, directly or indirectly in a fictitious name, in the name of another person or by or through another person in such a manner as to conceal the identity of the actual source of the contribution ...," the lawsuit states.

The Missouri campaign-finance-disclosure law also states, "No candidate or committee in this state shall accept contributions from any out-of-state committee unless the out-of-state committee from whom the contributions are received has filed a statement of organization pursuant to (state law) or has filed reports required by (state law), whichever is applicable to that committee," according to the suit.

Under the state campaign-finance-disclosure law, "Political action committees shall only receive contributions from individuals, unions, federal political action committees and corporations, associations and partnerships formed (under state law), and shall be prohibited from receiving contributions from other political action committees, candidate committees, political party committees, campaign committees, exploratory committees or debt-service committees," the suit states.

The suit also cites another section of the campaign-finance-disclosure law that states, "No person shall transfer anything of value to any committee with intent to conceal from the Ethics Commission the identity of the actual source ... Upon information and belief, Defendant is engaged in a civil conspiracy with regard to the funds received."

In a statement issued to the Call, Stuhlman wrote, "This is a frivolous lawsuit designed to distract from the real issue, which is Ed Ryan's wasteful spending and financial mismanagement as a Mehville fire board member."

Stuhlman, a firefighter/paramedic for University City, is a state service representative for the 2nd District of the International Association of Fire Fighters and a staff representative for Professional Fire Fighters of Eastern Missouri Local 2665.

Stuhlman declined to comment about the Klund letter, paid for by the Citizens for Good Government, in which he asks voters for their support. The letter also alleges "wasteful spending" and "mismanagement."

Asked why the lawsuit was filed, Hilmer told the Call, "... We did this obviously from the district angle because we discovered there's an out-of-state organization who's not registered anywhere, (that) appears to be breaking every tenet of campaign-finance law, and they're out there printing libelous statements about the district. And we're operating on behalf of the district."

Asked how he would respond to criticism that it appears the district is using taxpayer dollars for political purposes by filing the suit, Hilmer said that's not the case.

"This has nothing to do with an election. This has everything to do with seeing who this group is who is using our name, like I said, printing defamatory statements about us," he said.

Of the source of the $50,000, Hilmer said, "I think a lot of people want to know that. As it seems right now, it looks like hot money that's being laundered from group to group in an attempt to conceal its identity ... I know a fair amount about campaign-finance laws from handling different issues. I'm floored, and, quite honestly, anyone that was asked about this is floored by the enormity of the steps that have been taken to conceal its identity."

At press time, a hearing on Hilmer's lawsuit was scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday, March 20, before St. Louis County Circuit Court Judge Maura McShane.

"As it stands right now, I would advise the district, regardless of what happens in the hearing for the temporary restraining order, that we continue to pursue civil litigation to see who this actually is defaming the district," Hilmer said.

Of the "Mehlville Fire Fighters," Hilmer said, "I've been at Mehlville almost eight years on the board and I know a lot of people who work there. Nobody's ever heard of this group, much less contributed any money to it. So it really begs the question: Who are they?"

MFPD union employees formerly were members of IAFF Local 1889, but joined IAFF Local 2665 in September 2011.

Two years ago, Klund unsuccessfully challenged Hilmer. In that race, Klund and his supporters spent $100,000 on his behalf.

Mike for Mehlville Fire - Klund's committee - and Friends of the Mehlville Fire District - a separate committee formed to support his campaign - raised $100,657.24 and spent $99,534.92 for the 2011 race.

Local 1889 contributed a total of $78,502.24 to both committees. In addition, the national IAFF office contributed $14,700 to Klund's committee.

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Passerby Saves Elderly Couple From Fire

March 12, 2013 - KPLR

MEHLVILLE - An elderly couple survived a quick moving fire thanks to some help they received from their caretaker and neighbors.

The Mehlville Fire Protection District is investigating and believes the fire was accidental.

It started late Saturday night in the garage of their home on Baltusrol Dr. in South St. Louis County. The caretaker was able to shut the door from the house to the garage and then helped the elderly couple escape.

She began by literally lifting the elderly woman out of bed.

"She put her in the wheelchair, had enough thought to grab the quilt from the bed and hold that over her as she ran with her in the wheelchair out the front door," explained neighbor Helen Cook.

Mike Cruz is another neighbor and just happened to be driving by when the fire started.. He helped the elderly man out the front door.

"The health care lady was the one who really helped," said Cruz. "I helped them come out the porch, brought them to the edge of the street and then took them to the neighbors."

Cruz and Cook agree that a few moments later and the couple might not have survived the smoke and flames.

"There were flames already inside the front room where the people were exiting the house," explained Cruz.

Cook talked with the elderly man by phone on Monday. He was staying at an area hotel paid for by the American Red Cross.

Cook said the man just turned 91 years old last week.

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