News Archives - Central County Fire & Rescue

Retired CCFR Firefighter Gives Back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Mark Runge retired, he hung up his gear and walked away from a 38 year career of firefighting, but he knew his service to the community wasn’t over. Runge has always had a calling to help others; it’s what led him to leave a corporate sales career and become a professional firefighter in the 1980’s. Runge rose through the ranks at CCFR to become a Battalion Chief before retiring after 38 years of service to our community.

Throughout nearly four decades of service, Runge responded to thousands of emergencies. Toward the end of his career he noticed something was missing.

In years past, a national disaster relief organization would show up at large-scale emergencies, providing assistance to victims and first responders. When their service to the St. Charles area changed, there was a void that Runge knew he could fill. Within a few months of his retirement, he got to work bringing the CCFR Community Assistance Program to life.

Mark brought together a small team of volunteers who were willing to respond to emergencies within CCFR’s fire district. The volunteers would provide support to the victims, along with water and snacks to first responders on the scene.

The program quickly gained momentum, growing to include a team of 40 well-trained volunteers who are ready to respond at any moment, day or night. Their fully customized retired ambulance carries everything first responders or victims on the scene would need; everything from freshly brewed coffee and portable stools, to baby formula and scrubs in case a victim needs a change of clothes.

Volunteers for the program are there to help everyone on the scene. They provide victims with immediate assistance including clothing, food, shelter and even a night in a hotel if needed. They’re also able to connect victims with important community resources. There are many cases when a family loses everything in a house fire. This team of volunteers provides the necessary support to help them start the recovery process.

The volunteers also assist first responders by providing canteen service, which includes water, sports drinks, coffee, snacks and in some cases, meals. They also provide victims and first responders with relief from the outside elements. During the summer they set up cooling stations with shade, fans and ice-cold towels; in the winter their shelters, portable heaters and other supplies provide a break from the cold.

In 2019 they served more than 500 first responders and helped 14 local families who were victims of house fires. In just the third quarter of 2020, they provided 147 man-hours of volunteer service to our community.

If you’re interested in volunteering with the CCFR Community Assistance Program, contact [email protected] for more information.

Watch More Than A Firefighter

More Than A Firefighter is a series of video stories to give you an inside look at life as a CCFR professional firefighter/paramedic. It’s our hope in sharing them that you get to know us a little better and learn what drives each of us to work together to keep our community safe. Click here to watch.

CCFR Firefighters Provide Mental Health Assistance To Community Members Following Traumatic Experiences

When neighbors and a passerby rescued two residents from a burning home in June, firefighters with Central County Fire & Rescue (CCFR) recognized that the experience had the potential to leave these civilian heroes scarred and possibly suffering from undiagnosed post-traumatic stress (PTS). In the days following the fire, CCFR firefighters brainstormed how to help these residents recognize potential PTS and begin the healing process, and the Community Crisis Assistance Program (CCAP) was born.

Continue reading “CCFR Firefighters Provide Mental Health Assistance To Community Members Following Traumatic Experiences”

2020 Local Fireworks Regulations

Fireworks

 

Like many things, fireworks are going to look a little different this July 4. With 72-square miles in our Fire District, we serve numerous communities here in St. Charles County, and each municipality has established fireworks regulations. Take a look below for the regulations where you live. If you do decide to set off fireworks at home, please be careful, and keep them away from children and pets. Remember, we’re only a 911 call away if you need help.

Local Fireworks Regulations

City of St. Peters

It is illegal to shoot off fireworks, unless you’re operating a professional display approved through a permit. The sale of fireworks within City limits is also prohibited.
Details available here.

City of St. Charles

You are allowed to purchase fireworks within the City of St. Charles and certain fireworks can be set off from noon until 11 p.m. on July 3 and 4. The City of St. Charles does have a professional fireworks display scheduled along the riverfront at 9:20 p.m. on July 4.
Details available here.

City of O’Fallon

The sale of fireworks is allowed in the City of O’Fallon until July 6. You can discharge them July 3 and 4 from noon until 11 p.m.
Details available here. 

Unincorporated St. Charles County

Fireworks can be sold in Unincorporated St. Charles County until July 6. They may be used from 10 a.m. until 11 p.m. July 2-5.
Details available here. 

St. Peters Neighbors Rescue Man From Burning Home

At around 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 17, Central County Fire & Rescue was called to a house fire on Westwinds Dr. in the Fourwinds subdivision in St. Peters near Interstate 70.

Neighbors noticed thick black smoke and flames shooting from the home and called 911. Three of these neighbors jumped into action and helped two residents of the home escape the burning house. One of the residents suffered severe burns, and was transported to a hospital. The family’s dog was found safe in the backyard of the home by CCFR firefighters.

“Unfortunately, our response to the home was delayed by a gridlock of nearly 100 vehicles that had slowed down or stopped on the roadways to look at the smoke that could be seen for miles. We are reminding all of our residents, if you see an emergency vehicle, please move to the right as quickly as possibly. It can make a life saving difference,” said CCFR Deputy Chief and Public Information Officer Jason Meinershagen.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. The home and two vehicles were completely destroyed. CCFR was assisted by the O’Fallon Fire Protection District, St. Charles County Police Department, St. Charles County Ambulance District and the Central County Community Assistance Program.

“Situations like these are also an excellent reminder of the importance of working smoke alarms. When working, these simple devices can give you and your family the time you need to safely escape a house fire,” says Meinershagen.

Visit our Instagram or Facebook pages for photos and videos of the fire and response.

2019 Annual Report

2019 Annual Report Cover ImageWith great growth comes great opportunity. As the needs of our community evolve, Central County Fire & Rescue is excited to evolve, too, in order to best serve our residents and meet their biggest safety needs.

2019 was a record-setting year for Central County Fire & Rescue. Our crews responded to 6,611 emergency calls — an all-time high — while the number of medical emergency calls continues to rise.

CCFR has worked tirelessly to hire and train crew members so that we are equipped to keep up with this growing need in the most efficient manner. In early 2019, the District welcomed four new firefighter/paramedics to its ranks. As of this writing, 33% of CCFR’s suppression team are now licensed paramedics, the remaining are EMTs. Meanwhile, CCFR also set a goal of training every firefighter to drive and operate the District’s pumper, aerial and brush trucks. Seven new drivers were certified in 2019, which resulted in 96% of all fire suppression employees being certified to operate the District’s apparatuses.

Our team of investigators also continues to grow. These 19 CCFR investigators were able to determine the cause of more fires than last year, and discovered that 29 fires were intentionally started, up from 16 in 2018.

2019 brought with it a growing business community in our area. New commercial spaces including Amazon, FedEx and others moved into our community, and the CCFR Community Risk Reduction team worked to ensure these structures and occupancies are operated safely. This process also includes making sure structures are safe, with the appropriate number of fire hydrants, adequate water supply and adequate access for emergency vehicles.

CCFR continues to implement the community-created SAFE-T (Securing A Future of Excellence—Together) plan:

  • Opened new Fire Station #5.
  • Put two new multipurpose, all-terrain brush trucks into service.
  • Completed training and began using bailout kits, which allow CCFR firefighters to swiftly escape a building if they become trapped.
  • Put new self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBAs) into service, which replaced ones that were 15 years old. The new technology in these devices provide better communication, improved safety and forward-looking infrared technology.

A portion of the SAFE-T plan also focused on working to ensure financial stability, which included building a reserve that could sustain CCFR operations for six months. Through strong fiscal management, the District reached this goal in 2019 while also reducing the general revenue tax rate by 5.5%.

Thank you for your continued support of Central County Fire & Rescue. As the role of the fire service continues to evolve, we remain steadfastly committed to working with the community and providing the highest quality emergency services to keep our entire community safe. We encourage you to visit our website (centralcountyfire.org) and follow along on social media to learn more about our fire prevention resources and community programs, and to reach out if there’s ever anything we can do for you!

View the full 2019 Annual Report here

 

Central County Fire & Rescue Announces New Public Information Officer and Engineer

Jason Meinershagen and Jason GraffCentral County Fire & Rescue (CCFR) has promoted two team members. Jason Meinershagen is the District’s new Public Information Officer, and Jason Graff is the District’s newest engineer.

In the newly created role, Meinershagen is responsible for all community relations and communications, community risk reduction, fire and life safety education programs, community outreach activities, media relations and special events. He has been with the District for 21 years, moving up in the ranks from firefighter to engineer, to his current position. He is an active member of St. Louis Regional Urban Search and Rescue Team #1, and Central County Community Outreach. He holds technician-level qualifications in confined space, hazardous materials, rope, structural collapse, swift water and trench rescues.

Jason Graff, a 21-year veteran of the District, was promoted to engineer. As an engineer, he is responsible for driving and operating the fire truck during emergency situations. Graff is a state licensed EMT, rescue boat operator, and certified in hazardous materials response.

“Our area continues to grow in both residential and commercial development, which has increased the need for our community risk reduction programs and community outreach to keep our residents safe. This new position also allows us to reallocate staffing to expand our code enforcement and permitting efforts,” said CCFR Chief Dan Aubuchon.

“These two individuals are exemplary members of the CCFR team, and will be tremendous assets to our community in their new roles,” said Aubuchon.