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Candidate for St. Louis mayor: ‘ … the firemen in the county don’t really fight fires. They get a call and watch the building burn..’

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Happy Thanksgiving to all. I am always thankful and appreciative of the support you have shown through the years. The firefighters who read this site are the best and bravest firefighters in the world. Those who don’t are a bunch of cowards who would be scared to death to set foot in a burning building.

Pretty harsh, huh? Pandering to my audience, aren’t I?

Of course, I didn’t mean any of that other than sending along my best wishes and sincerely thanking you for your support. I would really have no way of knowing if those who read are the best and the bravest (though I do suspect they are the smartest).

It’s just my way of showing how inane the comments are that St. Louis aldermanic President Lewis Reed made in his efforts to seal the support of IAFF Local 73 firefighters in his run for mayor. Reed said the following at a neighborhood meeting Monday that was also attended by the local’s incoming president:

“And the firemen, the firemen in the county don’t really fight fires. They get a call and watch the building burn. Now they make sure nothing else catches fire, but they don’t go in the building.”

I have no clue about how good city firefighters are versus county firefighters in the St. Louis area. But I do know it’s one thing to highly praise a group of people as you lobby for their support and a very different thing to trash another group of people in making your point.

Reed probably didn’t need to go this far, considering the incumbent mayor he is running against, Francis G. Slay, has been at odds with the firefighters over pension issues and news reports indicate Local 73 has invested in Reed’s campaign.

Already this candidate for mayor is backpedaling just a bit. Here’s an excerpt from Joe Holleman’s “Joe’s St. Louis” column at

Reached later Wednesday, Reed said he was not criticizing county firefighters’ dedication or professionalism, but merely pointing out the different strategies adopted by the respective departments.

“The city has adopted a more aggressive approach to fighting fires, and we tend to have the (manpower) to do that,” Reed said. “I didn’t mean that county firefighters do not fight fires.”

“That statement was taken totally out of context and is being used by the Slay camp to drive a wedge between the members of public safety (departments) and myself.”

So, if Reed becomes mayor, how will this comment play in any city/county relations?


Comments - Add Yours

  • Ray McCormack

    Out of Context or its big brother Totally Out of Context are getting a bit over used, which of course could just be out of context.
    I Enjoy it.

    • dave statter

      They are always out of context. When will they learn to stock up and keep a good supply of context on hand? Happy Thanksgiving Ray.

      • RJ(in florida)

        i dont live in st louis but if i did i would not be voting for him….oops, i spoke out of context

  • firefighter

    Another politician with his foot in his mouth.

    Slandering firefighters without just cause is a public relations no-no.

  • some guy

    The guy might have a point (not about stlo county but everywhere), letting it burn while high fiving each other on stopping it from making the block is becoming an accepted tactic across the U.S.

    • Anonymous

      I agree 100%. We are so concerned about not getting anybody hurt we are backing ourselves out of a job. We, the fire service, must remain aggressive and stop pussy-footing around.

    • DCFD

      It’s definitely that way around here with SOME of the counties that surround our 2 closest cities…

  • Fire21

    Stupid is as stupid says…….

  • Stumper

    This fits right in with the full time Volly battles that never seem to end. I’m a full timmer so, I got bigger B@@@s than you…ya ya ya…. Guess what we all die the same… in or out of the fire.

  • Tree

    Of course, he’s only worried about the people who will vote in the mayoral election, which the county residents won’t be doing. So he can slam the county all he wants.

    I don’t know what the make-up of the STL county departments is, but I suspect that he’s pretty far off base. His city firefighters may be aggressive firefighters, but I’m sure there are county departments that are just as aggressive…


    Would be interesting to see the city union come out with a statement condemning the comment.

  • JustSayin’



    Then man needs some votes.!!
    It’s quite cultural to diss the country cousins to impress the urban brothers.

    Of course, when STL becomes the new-Detroit the country folk may not
    be too inclined to provide the now much needed mutual aid.

    But not to worry, the mayor will still have his salary and retirement.!!

  • Robert Kramer

    How do you know he is not telling the truth? I know a bunch of “firefighters” that proudly proclaim they won’t go in another fire.

    Let’s face it, there are a LOT of slugs in the fire service. I think there have been plenty enough videos on this very site to prove that.

  • Dedication

    Out of context. Or just plain wrong! County, volly, depts may not have all the money or toys but we’ll bust our butts just as hard and maybe harder to save yours.

  • Aardvark

    Typical. Another politician NOT knowing what Firefighters do…..both volly and career.

  • Johnny Awesome

    While the statement may be Stupid to some. I do know of FD’s (In My Area) that could not aggressively fight a fire, mainly do to little to no training, poor equipment or physical shape and age.

    Unfortunately the public has no knowledge most the time that the fire departments provide substandard service.

    I would like to see St.L City FF’s or the St.L County FF’s respond to this candidates statement.

  • Steve Arnold

    My name is Steve Arnold, a retired fire chief from a St. Louis County Fire Protection District and the the comments by Alderman Reed is asinine to say the least. St. Louis County Firefighters are highly trained and second to none when it comes to rescue work and structure firefighting. I would trust my life and the lives of my family with any of them. I have never seen a St. Louis County Firefighter stand outside and watch a structure burn if there was chance to enter and extinguish the fire. I highly respect the City of St. Louis Fire Department for the tough job they have and its a crying shame that a City of St. Louis politician who doesn’t know which end of the hose the water comes out of has to stoop this low just to garner votes. I would like to know where he received his firefighter training that qualifies him to make such a statement?…..I’m just saying!

  • jim

    Lets look at the plus side though, a mayoral candidate that’s saying something good about the firefighters in the city, even if at the expense of others. I mean this stuff rarely happens, usually its how fat, lazy, over paid, sleeping on the clock, watching tv, etc etc we are. So baby steps people, baby steps.

  • old man 1

    From what i understand there never has been a lot of mutual respect for county departments from many of the city guys especially years ago. I have heard that many times the county departments that respond to the city on mutual aid are never used as should be. The county runs 3 on a truck and the city 4. While what was said was political i think deep down that is the feeling among many of the city guys.

  • Former Chief

    Dave, Happy Thanksgiving. You’re right of course, we are the smartest Firefighters for reading Statter. Perhaps Alderman Reed should start visiting your site as well, although based on his comments, he may need someone to read it for him. Is this the best St. Louis has to offer in a Mayoral candidate? Sad.
    Chief Arnold, thanks for the local insight.

  • Anonymous

    While I’m sure that candidate Reed loves the fire fighters’ union, lets see how mayor Reed deals with them.

  • Anonymous

    In reading the comments, it’s apparent the Individual running for Public Office, is either influenced through Financial support from IAFF, or he is absolutely ignorant as to Training Standards that all Fire and EMS Personnel Career and Volunteer
    must achieve. His statements are at the least plain and simple out of line. “Stupid is as Stupid says”. One can only hope that
    this individual never experiences a Fire and/or EMS Life Threatening Emergency where County fire and EMS Personnel would Respond to provide the Professional job that Training Standards and requirements are mandated. “HELLO”!!!

  • Anonymous

    I would like to comment on DCFD says. What in the world are you thinking? You know better than to make such unwarranted words of predjudice and stereotype. The Good and decent Professionals of DC Fire and EMS are Highly Trained. Your ignorant thinking and words donot reflect those of your colleagues. Yes there are surrounding jurisdictions to both Washington, DC and baltimore. The suburban jurisdictions ie; Montgomery County, Prince Georges County, Arlington County, Fairfax County and other Northern Virginia areas are also highly Trained. Have you forgot about September 11,2001? Arlington Virginia was the primary Local area in charge at The Pentagon. Every First Responder who was on scene at Pentagon did an exceptional job under the terrible circumstances. How about the Mass Casualty METRO Train Crash June 21,2009. Yes without any doubt DC Fire and EMS did what can be described as
    an outstanding job. Yes also there were Mutual Aid Resources who responded and assisted DC Fire and EMS as needed. There were nine innocent souls lost and a number of others who had to be extricated. These are just a couple of Major incidents that stand out in the strongest meaning of what,how,who, why various Fire and EMS Responders were there. Wake up Grow up.
    Climb out of your sand box, recess is over. “HELLO” !!!

    • Anonymous

      Not to mention, the members of Local 36 make up a lot of volunteer company memberships in the surrounding area to DC/Baltimore

  • mark

    When will we, as citizens, stand up and do something about the IDIOTS we have running for office? At all levels.

    We no longer have the cream rising to the top, more like turds floating to the top. What a sad situation our country is in.