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New Fire Chief Named for Monarch Fire Protection District

Tom Vineyard was announced as Monarch's new fire chief Saturday by a 2-1 vote among the district's three board of directors.

Tom Vineyard, chief of Mid-County Fire Protection District of St. Louis County, will replace current and retiring for the Monarch Fire Protection District, per a 2-1 vote by Monarch's board of directors at a Saturday meeting at the district's headquarters in Chesterfield. Biele is set to retire Jan. 1.

Information about Vineyard being a top candidate for the job circulated publicly via a self-proclaimed watchdog group, Monarch Concerned Taxpayers.

(See related article from Eureka-Wildwood Patch Nov. 8:  )

Monarch board of directors engaged the services of Clayton, MO-based Grant Cooper & Associates as their search firm to find a new chief.

Board president Kim Evans moved to accept the employment contract signed by Vineyard, and it was seconded by board of director Steve Swyers. Board of director Robin Harris pointed out the stated qualifications of the chief's position to include: 

  • a bachelor's degree required
  • a master's degree preferred
  • 15 years of experience with a large, metropolitan department
  • emergency management and services training
  • specialized managerial training a plus

Harris said Vineyard possesses none of these attributes. "Mid County has 19 employees, only one house and no ambulances. They do not respond to water or air rescues," he said. "Monarch has six times the number of employees, five houses, ladders and several ambulances. He doesn't even possess the qualifications of what we'd be looking for in an entry level emergency paramedic."

Evans said a very thorough search was conducted for Biele's replacment, one that followed a six-month process. "Mr. Vineyard had excellent references, and has the leadership skills this district has been lacking for many years," she said.

The passing vote of Vineyard as the new chief prompted boos from meeting attendees.

After the meeting, Harris said he was sure Vineyard is a nice person, but he does not believe he has the qualifications required by Monarch for the chief's position.

Vineyard was not available for comment.

Monarch has 125 employees, five firehouses and covers 55 square miles. It is based in Chesterfield. In addition to Chesterfield, district employees service parts of Creve Coeur, Maryland Heights, Wildwood, Clarkson Valley, Ballwin and unincorporated St. Louis County. The 2011 budget appeared to total about $22 million, with revenue from taxes on residential and commercial property, and personal property.

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