With the population count of it’s coverage area ever-expanding, the Lincoln County Fire Protection District has been thinking over the services it needs to provide to keep its growing number of residents safe. The district is starting by looking at one of the fastest growing cities in Lincoln County: Moscow Mills.
The district has set five-year and ten-year plans, and in the long-term, the goal is to get more full-time, on-staff firefighters to service the community. There are 38 volunteer firefighters working with the district now, but many of them have full-time jobs during the day, meaning the window where they can help is limited. Even during the volunteers’ night shifts for the district, with a full workday waiting for them the next day, volunteers can get stretched thin quickly.
“Right now we count on Wentzville, and they’re 20 minutes away,” Fire Chief Dan Casey said. “As firefighters, it’s a dangerous job, and if you don’t have people supporting the first-in crews…if they’re inside and they have an issue there’s nobody to come get them, they’re 20 minutes away.”
Right now, the Troy Fire Hall is the only one that has full-time staff, and the others are manned by volunteers.
The other half of the long-term plan is to get better equipment and facilities for those firefighters to use.
“Our newest fire truck is seven years old with over 100,000 miles,” Casey said. “Our SCBAs [self-contained breathing apparatus] have reached their limit, they’re 15 years old.”
The whole point of looking ahead, Casey said, is to provide the residents protected by the fire district with the best service possible; and Moscow Mills is being looked at first because of the growth and need that Casey and the district have seen in that community. The age of the current Moscow Mills Fire Hall is an issue, Casey said, as it’s an original building (built in 1979) and has a number of outdated features. The location of the current hall is ideal, Casey said, though the piece of land is rather thin, so if it were to upgrade the hall, the district would probably be looking at a two-story building – meaning a fire pole would be built inside – and it would be designed as a drive-through facility like the Troy Fire Hall, so trucks don’t have to try to back up into the bays.
“When you don’t have to back up a fire truck, it’s statistically proven you don’t have as many accidents,” Casey said. Part of the problem the current fire hall has is just accommodating the changes to firefighting over the years. The size of modern fire trucks and apparatus is greater than when the Moscow Mills hall was built, making vehicle storage a challenge.
“They don’t make fire trucks that small anymore, so that’s a problem for us, because the one that’s in there barely fits,” Casey said.
Additionally, Casey said that with men and women serving on crews now, the Moscow Mills hall doesn’t have separate living facilities for both genders, much less for a full-time crew. There’s just a single small kitchen and a single room with a few beds.
The fire district is just in the preliminary stages of planning how to accomplish these goals. Casey was on the Moscow Mills Board of Aldermen agenda for the November meeting, but was called away for a fire just as the meeting was about to start; however initial discussions on the topic have begun.
“He’s [Casey] doing an excellent job I think of reaching out to the community and trying to get public support behind him, and making people realize that, ‘hey, this is for your benefit people,’” Moscow Mills Mayor Patrick Flannigan said.