When Fire Fighters Local 2665 to publicly exposed the virulently anti-union Monarch Fire Protection District Board for ending the District’s 20-year relationship with the Boys Scouts of America Explorer program, the Board – shamed by its not-so-good-deed – did an immediate turnaround, mere hours after the Board’s decision became public.
The Board quietly voted to kill the popular, award-winning program that Monarch Firefighters and Paramedics have administer to young people interested in fire service careers in January, despite encouragement by the union to keep it alive.
The reason, while no Board member will admit it, was not the budget, but the fact that the program is organized and run by the union. Monarch firefighters and paramedics donate their time to serve as trainers and mentors for the 14 to 18-year-old Scouts who participate in the program through Chesterfield Explorer Post 2202.
The cost to the District, to cover uniforms, fire protection helmets and training materials for the 15 to 20 Scouts who participate, is only $1,500 out of the District’s $16,975,964 budget.
SHAMED INTO TURNAROUND
When Local 2665’s efforts to convince the Board to re-instate the program were ignored, the union went public on March 10 with a press release denouncing the Board’s decision.
That afternoon, after being contacted by the media for comment, Fire Chief Chuck Marsonette did an about face, announcing the program would be immediately re-instated and “robustly supported.”
“Hundreds of Boy Scouts participated over the years since the program began at Monarch in the early 1990s; many of them eventually became excellent fire fighters and paramedics. It has been great for the Boy Scouts and great for the community.”
Participating Scouts attend two to three training sessions per month at Monarch fire houses, ride in fire trucks during calls and perform no-risk tasks such as rolling up fire hoses and cleaning equipment.
“A lot of excellent firefighters and paramedics working today came up through that program,” Borgmann said.
Geoff Theodore, a former Monarch firefighter and paramedic who now serves at another fire district in St. Louis County, participated in Monarch’s program years ago when he was a Boy Scout. “It’s one of the reasons I am a firefighter today,” he said.
This is not the first time Monarch’s Board of Directors, led by anti-union former state senator Jane Cunningham and director Robin Harris, has turned its back on positive community programs supported by the fire fighters’ union.
The board tried to scotch a fund raising effort for cancer research in 2013 by ruling that fire fighters could not use the District’s logo, along with the union’s logo, on T-shirts publicizing the effort.