Kinloch firefighters go on strike after change in leadership - KMOV.com

Kinloch firefighters go on strike after change in leadership

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(Credit: KMOV) (Credit: KMOV)

KINLOCH, Mo. (KMOV.com) – Firefighters in Kinloch have gone on strike, leaving the fire department empty over the weekend, citing unfair treatment by the Fire Protection District Board.

The assistant fire chief said 18 firefighters did not show up for work this weekend.

“Basically it was made very clear yesterday that no one would return to work until the board and the situation with the fire chief was resolved,” said Assistant Chief Tim Rhodus.

Last week, Will Pryor was appointed as the new fire chief by the board. This comes after the former mayor and fire chief, Darren Smalls was indicted in federal court along with his wife, the former Fire Protection District Board president, for stealing money from the fire department.

Rhodus says at the April 5 meeting of the board, the volunteer firefighters were given the impression they would all be demoted.

“[The board] made it very clear they do not care what our wishes are, and for lack of better terms, they were going to demote everyone in the department,” said Rhodus.

Kinloch has a mutual aid agreement with Berkeley, Ferguson and the Northeast Fire and Ambulance District. Those departments will respond to a fire in the city limits of Kinloch.

“The mutual aid agreement we have with everyone else helps to keep the citizens protected, they’re just going to have a little longer response time,” said Rhodus.

News4 reached out to the newly appointed Fire Chief Will Pryor but received no response. But a letter sent from Chief Pryor to his firefighters Sunday evening said, “You are being ordered as employees of the district to return back to work immediately. If you don't return to duty immediately, I will take that to mean you have quit the department or is abandoning your position. I will move forward to replace you because of this.”

Rhodus says the firefighters hope board leaders listen to their complaints at the upcoming meeting this Thursday and that a solution is able to be reached.

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