Tensions rise over Slay protesters at Tuesday's massive fire

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by Mike Colombo / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on July 19, 2012 at 9:38 PM

Updated Sunday, Nov 24 at 11:20 PM

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- News 4 has learned a controversy was heating up as firefighters battled Tuesday’s five-alarm blaze in midtown St. Louis.

A viewer sent us a picture where you can see a group of people holding signs in protest of Mayor Slay’s plan to overhaul fire fighter pensions.

I  went to the fire chief for reaction.

Chief Dennis Jenkerson told me the temperature outside mixed with the heat coming from that massive fire already had him pretty hot but when he found out about these signs; he said he was steaming mad.

“If I’d have seen it for myself while I was on the scene, while I was fighting this fire, I’m not sure what I would’ve done. I think I would’ve boiled over so to speak. Would’ve never allowed something like that,” he said.

Chief Jenkerson says he was made aware of the protesters the next day and was informed a high ranking firefighter on the scene asked the group to leave.

Jenkerson tells News 4 he doesn’t know who the individuals are, or if they are at all related to the department.

“It’s not an image you want to portray even though it is such a difficult topic. I consider the St. Louis fire department to always be professional,” he said. “We always present an image that’s positive that we want to keep with the citizens of the city and also the people we work for. That by no means do I consider professional.”

Almost a week ago, city aldermen approved the overhaul of the firefighter pension plan. The firemen’s retirement system of St Louis has filed suit against the mayor’s bills which is pending in court.

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