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Ladue Residents, Schools & Businesses Pleased With Their Own Fire/EMS Service

Quick response time; personal relationships worth a lot in this city of some 8,500.

Two years ago, EMS personnel quickly responded to a summer student in distress in the swimming pool at Burr Oak camp at John Burroughs School. Personnel made a very quick rescue, and the youngster recovered quickly.

Another time, police, fire and EMS responded to a resident on Colonial Lane with an apparent heart attack. That person also survived, thanks to the professional and quick action of Ladue’s rescue team.

These are just isolated examples of why Ladue residents value their own independent fire and EMS service and why they have never shown interest in joining forces with any other county fire departments. Much goes the same for St. Louis' inner-urban communities: Clayton, Brentwood, Maplewood, University City, Shrewsbury and Olivette.

Several years ago, firemen helped rescue Carol Buck, widow of the late Cardinals announcer Jack Buck when a porch light malfunctioned, burning her house to the ground.

Ladue EMS were called to MICDS over the holidays to successfully handle a sick case. Becky Young, MICDS' chief financial officer oversees these sorts of activities. "The Ladue Fire/EMS service has been very responsive to emergency situations on the MICDS campus. They have also been extremely helpful when we have consulted them regarding projects," said Young.

This is the view from John Burroughs School.

Andy Abbott, head of the school, counts his blessings with this service. 

"We consider ourselves fortunate to be under the purview of the Ladue Fire / EMS Department. In times of emergency, their response time, effectiveness and care have been exceptional.

As we work to assure the safest campus possible, they have been extremely helpful overseeing drills and conducting inspections. When we make changes to our campus (as we are doing now with major construction and renovation projects well underway), their knowledge and professionalism have provided critical insights and guidance. The fact that one of Ladue’s engine houses is but 350 yards from our campus is one of Burroughs’ greatest assets."

Ed Phillips, director of plant operations at Burroughs agrees: "From my perspective, I would describe the Ladue Fire Department as follows:  In 30 years of experience, the Ladue Fire Department has provided the quickest response times, been the most flexible considering the wide range of facilities and emergencies that take place on this campus, the most knowledgeable and the most customer friendly fire department that I have ever worked with."  

The Ladue School District counts upon the city service in times of emergencies. The district's communication director Susan Dielmann explains. "We are immensely grateful for all the local support we get in protecting our students, staff and buildings.

"We have a long history of working collaboratively and effectively with our law enforcement, fire protection and emergency medical teams in the municipalities we serve, and look forward to that tradition continuing for the health and safety of the Ladue Schools community."

Longtime resident and Ladue finances observer Glenn Jamboretz values this service. "Response times to emergency calls are incredibly short, typically under three minues. That's huge. Most calls are for EMS. Put put yourself in the shoes of a homeowner having a heart attack. Ladue handles more than 500 calls a year. Getting there in three minutes is a great benefit to the citizens," said Jamboretz.

However, Jamboretz thinks the city would have even been better off if the merger of fire houses between Ladue and Frontenac several years ago had not failed. "That would have provided better geographic coverage of the two communities with modern facilities and equipment," he surmised.

Still looking for a new fire chief

The City of Ladue is still in the process of finding a new permanent fire chief, replacing Eric Hinson who was just convicted of federal fraud and tax evasion charges in consort with his part time job with the St. Clair. MO. Fire District. No time limit has been cast in stone to name a new chief.

Former Ladue Mayor Irene Holmes indicated that financial improprieties will never be an issue in Ladue. “The city has its own checks and balances. The only person who can issue checks is the finance director and all checks require the signature of the mayor. Council members review the issuance of all city checks ever month."

Holmes, like so many other residents of Ladue is very pleased with the professional response of the Ladue Fire Department. “Our citizens value the quick response times and the fact that all of our firemen are paramedic trained and can deal with medical emergencies in a timely manner,” said Holmes.

Ladue fire and EMS personnel respond to everything from wrecks on Interstate-64/40 cutting through the community to home kitchen grease fires.

Facts about the department

The Ladue Fire Department’s territory covers 8 square miles. The city maintains two fire houses on either end of Clayton Road, both of which will be replaced soon out of existing city funds.

The fire department employes 32 and has three 10-man crews working shifts that are 48 hours on, 96 hours off.

Engine house one at 9213 Clayton Road serves as administrative offices. Equipment in that house includes an ambulance and a heavy-duty rescue pumper. House two at 9911 Clayton Road has a heavy duty rescue pumper and other fire fighting and rescue equipment. Both fire trucks are outfitted with advanced life support equipment.

The city operates its fire department on a budget slightly over $4 million a year.

Cornet of Horse January 17, 2013 at 05:20 PM
So, before Ladue lays out millions for new firehouses, can we take an honest look at whether we should think regionally? Does Fire and Police in Ladue need Buildings and Bureaucracy? We are a mini-municipality, created 80+ decades ago when the land to the west of us was farms and gravel roads. The issue is not whether Police Officers and Firemen are professional, it's whether the ongoing expensive lug of having an independent fire and police makes sense to the residents of today and the future. Don't Police and Fire have to meet professional accreditation standards regarding response and training and service? If so, what value is provided by having a Chief, sub-Chiefs and all that building + overhead, not to mention pension programs that have literally bankrupted other cities. Also having to hire and monitor mgmt. Yes, I know that they are willing to protect and serve, but this is a little old lady district. If our Police and Fire have that vocation to serve, aren't there other areas that have a much greater need than the well-educated population of Ladue, who maintain their homes, autos, and don't tend to have police situations.
James Baer January 17, 2013 at 06:23 PM
Cornet of Horse. You certainly leave me confused. You start out about the expense of fire and EMS service, and then you end up talking about police situations. This article was never about police at all. How do you attach a dollar amount to rapid response time to save lives. That's what Ladue folks like. They like the security of their fire, EMS and yes police nearby and ready to fulfill their needs.
Cornet of Horse January 22, 2013 at 02:45 AM
My concern is that as a Ladue resident, independent Fire and independent Police probably don't make a whole lot of sense. And before we build multi-million dollar firestations, should we decide whether it's time to pull the plug and thing regionally? I know we already have the new Police Station, so that ship has sailed. I am concerned that we are in a situation similar to what's described in San Jose, CA by Michael Lewis, in 'California or Bust', Vanity Fair, November, 2011. (article is available free online.) San Jose is a very wealthy community, that is nearly bankrupt because of its independent fire and police service. Residents were very satisfied, too, with the fire and police service, back in the day. Now they are in a hell of a mess. . Ladue has a problem, too. How bad is it, do you know? And should we be so ready to OK the status quo?
Cornet of Horse January 28, 2013 at 08:58 PM
Little old lady Ladue just hired a Fire Chief for $100K, plus a yesteryear comp/pension package. Is anyone thinking about combining these little Duke-dom Departments? We could have gotten him for half of $93k, which is what oh-so-similar Olivette FD was paying him, if we had just combined. The buy-it-now price for Olivette to find a new Chief has been jacked to over $100K, plus their version of a public-service-only platinum full comp plan. The madness continues. Had time to read that article? Can you ask our new mayor to take it as priority to issue a public release comparing Ladue's situation to 'California and Bust' and to make her administration's case pro/con on what to do? Did Tony B just kick it all down the road? Ughh.

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