Union backs Mehlville fire board’s decision

Local 1889 of the International Association of Fire Fighters supports a decision to place on administrative leave a firefighter arrested Friday on federal murder-for-hire charges, according to a news release issued Monday afternoon by Mark Woolbright, IAFF 2nd District vice president.

“The Mehlville Fire Protection District has placed James Kornhardt on unpaid administrative leave following his arrest Friday. Local 1889 supports this decision,” Woolbright stated in the release. “The charges against Mr. Kornhardt have nothing to do with his employment at the Mehlville Fire Protection District and have absolutely nothing to do with his former leadership role in Local 1889.”

“Mr. Kornhardt was hired by the Mehlville Fire Protection District six months before the alleged murder occurred in 1992. Mr. Kornhardt is an outgoing officer of Local 1889. He did not run for re-election and is not involved in the representation of their members.”

“Despite the unenlightened, self-serving comments by Mehlville Fire District (Board of Directors) Chairman Aaron Hilmer, Mr. Kornhardt’s arrest is a criminal matter. It is not a labor-management issue, and this matter has nothing to do with the lawsuit that Local 1889 filed against the Mehlville Fire Protection District for illegally firing two firefighters. Mr. Hilmer has made repeated references to Local 1889 and his differences with the union when discussing Mr. Kornhardt’s arrest. Those remarks are offensive to the law-abiding fire fighters of the Mehlville Fire Protection District, and only serve to erode the confidence the citizens of the district have in their first responders,” Woolbright continued.

“While Mr. Hilmer has made remarks to a number of reporters, he has prohibited employees of the Mehlville Fire Protection District from discussing the issue with the media,” he concluded.

Hilmer told the Call that the allegation he has prohibited district employees from discussing the issue with the media is “absolutely untrue.”