Jennings Fire Department merges to save city money

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JENNINGS, MO (KPLR) - As of September 1st, the city of Jennings no longer has its own fire department.

Last month, residents voted to give up their fire department and join the Riverview Fire Protection District. Jennings’ fire house, 11 firefighters and two fire trucks are now part of Riverview.

With a total of 33 firefighters, employees in both districts are pleased with the move, and say it’ll provide them with more manpower to better serve the residents.  “We have a larger workforce to help spread out our capabilities for doing the job for the citizens,” explains Riverview Fire Captain Bill Alexander, who had previously served as a Jennings firefighter for 41 years.

The issue was that the Jennings Fire Department was funded by a sales tax, which barely covered the fire department’s expenses.  Riverview, on the other hand, is funded through a fire district tax, which Jennings residents will now pay, instead of the sales tax.

Throughout the next few days, firefighters will be easing into their new roles.  Riverview Fire Chief Joe Bommarito explains, “We’ve made some crew transfers to integrate some of their firefighters into our existing fire houses, and some of our firefighters will be going to their firehouse, to start learning the transition, if you will. They have to start learning our streets and businesses, and we’ll start learning theirs, as well.”

The annexation also frees up roughly $750,000 in the city of Jennings’ budget. In a county with 90 municipalities, it’s a move that Bommarito feels makes sense.  “We hope that this is just the beginning. It’s a trend that I think [St. Louis] County needs.”

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