New fire board is disregarding firefighters input

To the editor:

After reading your opinion in the Call concerning the MFPD I was appalled.

I have been to every meeting since Mrs. Stegman and Mr. Hilmer was appointed. What they have been doing is ruining the fire district for everyone. The union was never in control of the district. They have worked diligently in the past with the boards to have a great fire district.

However, what the two board members are doing now jepordizes the lives of the firemen and paramedics. I am not a member of the fire department but has the utmost respect for what they do. Their job is one that not many people can do and to downgrade them, take away what few benefits they have, and now to mess with their disability benefits is outlandish. If they get injured in the line of duty it will take six months before they receive a dime. And if they die their spouse gets nothing.

Even the fire chief thought that the new disability policy that the two decided to get was bad.

Have you been at any of these meetings. If you had been at the last meeting you would have heard taxpayers try to discuss the changes that Hilmer and Stegman has made and they disregarded any comments.

The room was full of taxpayers and firefighters, paramedics. What angered me just as much was the fact that they are interviewing 40 new possible hires. The highest score was a 75 out of these new hires. It use to be that if you scored 70 or above you were interviewed. Now they are interviewing people with a score as low as 63. I don’t want a Paramedic working on me who can’t even pass a simple test.

There were over 200 people take the test when it was for firefighter and paramedics as two separate categories. Then Hilmer and Stegman threw those away because they decided to go with Firefighter-Paramedics (a single category). Only a handful retook the test. And we as Mehlville citizens are not getting the cream of the crop.

Instead of bashing the firefighters and paramedics try coming to the meeting and see what taxpayers are saying. The union has tried to work with the board and all Mr. Hilmer and Mrs. Stegman wants is revenge. And as an advocate for the area shouldn’t you find out why?

The men and women of the MFPD have gone three years without a pay raise. They knew the district was in financial trouble. The spending was not the union’s fault. Most of these people have second jobs and most of their spouses work full time too. I have yet to know a single one of them who has a home in the price range of Hilmer’s.

Speaking of homes, what was written in the call about the $4.2 million dollar excess try finding out from the comptroller exactly where that came from. I found out $1.5 million was from the sale of the old firehouse at Lindbergh and Lemay Ferry (which will be spent plus more on a new firehouse across from Mehlville High School). A huge increase was from tax revenue from that huge county property tax reassessment we all received along with a bunch of new construction of homes in the area.

Instead of bashing them, try talking with some of them. Try spending a day or two riding in an ambulance or fire truck. See what these people go through every day. I’m not talking about a few hours. Spend 24 hours with a team. See how often they have to get up in the middle of the night or run back to back calls for hours on end. I just hope that you never need their services. But you probably don’t even live in the district and really don’t care.

Kathy Hoffman