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Is Ladue Planning on Building a Dog House Without Having a Dog?

A literal translation of how much is needed in terms of room, etc. for two newly proposed fire houses.

Ladue Mayor Anthony Bommarito called a special work session to review the costs of building two new fire houses in the community.

Only thing is, the city council never broached the subject of costs. As council member Walter Stern said, attending the meeting by teleconference, “Figuring that out will be up to our finance committee. Our job will be selling it (two new fire houses) to our citizens.”

That is true.

Mostly, there was a spirited back and forth about whether both fire houses will have two bays apiece and what to do with a backup pumper truck and ambulance.

Presently, Ladue’s back up pumper resides at the maintenance building on the city hall grounds. Chief Eric Hinson revealed that the city’s ambulance was down for three weeks while the air conditioner was being fixed. “It was just too hot in July for our paramedics to go out on calls without air conditioning,” the chief stated.

As mentioned, the discussion was lively. All members are keeping a close eye on the budget.

The goal, if the city is going to build two new fire houses is to assure they will remain up to standards and codes and be around for some 50 years.

“This is the time to discuss all of this,” said Charlie Hiemenz, “We have yet to put a spade in the ground.”

The fire chief noted that it is much better to build for extra room now then to add on later. He pointed to Ellisville’s recent expansion plans. “They expanded their building and the brick doesn’t match. It never does,” he said.

All the council members looked towards the chief to see if there are any grant opportunities under FEMA or Homeland Security to underwrite some of these costs.

“I think we should carry this conversation to resolution. The apparatus bays are the nerve center of any fire station and we don’t want to be short sighted to do any squeezing of the building,” said Councilman Art Bond.

“I feel like we have learned a lot from FEMA reports that came out of the Joplin (tornado outcome) said Councilman John Fox.

Councilwoman Nancy Spewak feels the overall costs differences are small. “To build a building with one bay or two bays is relatively close, I think we should just do it.”

Mayor Bommarito is concerned with adding another piece of equipment to the inventory, then driving up the labor costs. Ladue already spends nearly 80 percent of its budget on labor and benefits for its employees.

“It could cost $750,000-$800,000 in additional costs to have a staff to man an additional piece of equipment. We are not growing as a city,” he said, opposing an staff expansions at this this time.

Councilman Fox had the last word. “this is sort of like building a new dog house, and we don’t even have a dog.”

That got a good laugh from everyone.

No action can be taken at a public work session. City staff will try and rush documentation of the meeting in time for Monday’s regularly-scheduled council meeting in order to forward their final thoughts to the Finance Committee.

Cornet of Horse August 28, 2012 at 12:46 PM
What ever happened to the idea of combining fire service regionally? If that's not happening, let's get the City Council cracking on some other must-have services, such as Ladue Sewer District, Ladue Water Company, and Ladue International Airport. Dudes, there is a 'fire' akin to a smoldering something or other once every two months in Ladue. And horse and buggy days are done. Is there no more efficient way to provide fire service regionally? Let's continue on that path. Multi-million dollar firehouses can wait. Our well-compensated fire dept employees are not going anywhere. They like it here, as the risk and rewards are to their favor. If not and they really want to put their training to work, they can go work in a struggling community with poor housing stock and other deteriorating infrastructure. That's where the need is.
Laduzzi September 16, 2012 at 12:48 PM
Sure, the idea of consolidation has been considered regionally. Are you willing to pay more taxes to support it? You think that you are going to get dedicated fire service for your fair city for the $0.87 you are paying now? Because the fire dept only gets a slice of that pie. A regional dept (district) will be charging you a dedicated tax for fire service alone. And I can assure you that it will be close to the $0.87 you are paying for PD, FD, and Public works combined. Your lack of understanding is astounding. Of course you wouldn't want your public servants to have a decent building to live in, now would you? I mean buildings that aren't 60+ years old, not ADA compliant, crumbling plumbing, and provide no separate facilities for female employees? Nah, as you said they have it pretty cush there in Ladue. I mean employees never leave there because they are so well compensated right? That's why come the end of this year 2/3rds of the dept will have less than 5 years experience. Because the city has done so well at keeping employees there. I guess that revolving door that spits employees out the back door must be a figment of imagination. I mean since you compare the FD to other "must-have services" in such a tongue and cheek manor, why don't we disband the department all together? Heck, who needs a fire dept? We can just have neighboring depts respond if their is a problem in Ladue, right?
ontheair October 16, 2012 at 06:57 PM
The Fire Dept is not planning adding personnel to staff additional equipment. The larger engine houses are needed to fit the evergrowing equipment, now and in the future. The Dept also has a spare fire truck and a soon to be spare ambulance, to be used in the event that the front line equipment breaks down, or heaven forbid, is involved in an accident. Possessing spare equipment keeps the Fire Dept from having to borrow from other Depts in the area when a piece breaks. Also, the present fire houses were built in 1950. Buildings such as fire departments, police departments, jails, and hospitals age at rates considerably higher than other buildings, due to their around-the-clock use. You could compare the rate of degredation like you compare human years versus dog years.

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