As temperatures soared into the high nineties this week, the Lake Saint Louis Fire Protection District, which has been plagued with aging, failing equipment, found itself in a jam.
“At this time all Lake St. Louis firetrucks are currently out of service because of mechanical issues and no working air conditioning,” the fire district posted on its Facebook page.
“The biggest issue we currently face with the aging firetrucks is firefighter safety with the current weather. Yesterday [truck] 9224 reached 104 degrees inside the cab while just sitting in the fire station.”
Neighboring Wentzville Fire Protection District, who recently took delivery of two new, state-of-the-art firetrucks, stepped in and loaned one of their reserve trucks to Lake Saint Louis.
Lake Saint Louis Fire Chief Clint Gussner told 70 West Sentinel that he hoped to have a truck back in commission within a week. Two of the department’s trucks are 18 years old. “The manufacturer is out of business, and we can’t get parts for them,” he said.
One solution the department is looking at is taking parts from one of the trucks to repair the other. “That way we’ll at least get one back in service,” Gussner said. The district’s third truck is 25 years old.
The Lake Saint Louis Fire District thanked Wentzville and expressed their appreciation on Facebook. “Heat related injuries are a major safety concern for first responders of the District. Due to the high humidity and temperatures that will be experienced over the next week it is important that firefighters have a safe place to cool off during calls. Air conditioning is imperative to preventing these types of heat related injuries.”
Two measures have been placed on the August 2 general election ballot that would allow the Lake Saint Louis Fire Protection District to improve its ability to serve the community: a bond issue for up to $8 million for a new fire station and equipment, and a 18-cent tax levy for the district to hire additional firefighters, meet operating expenses, and reduce response times.