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5 University City firefighters suspended without pay for months

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UNIVERSITY CITY, MO (KTVI)-- Firefighters in University City think city officials are hypocrites.  City officials say they are just following the law.  The courts will decide.  The dispute revolves around campaign advertisements.

It all began when a candidate for city office in University City in the most recent election used a photo of himself and University City firefighters.  State law prohibits first responders from appearing in uniform for campaigns.

The firefighters say they were not wearing University City uniforms.

The five showed up at city hall Thursday afternoon and were quickly suspended without pay for 3 months. A lawyer for firefighters displayed campaign leaflets from current Mayor Shelly Welsh.

When the county wanted to pass a 9-1-1 tax, a University City firefighter was given prominent display in the ad. Firefighters think city officials are two faced.   A firefighter union representative Jeff Proctor said, “They have used us for several campaigns when it benefits them, however when we exercise our first amendment rights we're served with a three month suspension with no pay.”

Lehman Walker the city manager for University City said, “First responders, including firefighters, cannot be involved in political activity in uniform. If you take a look at the photograph on campaign literature any reasonable person would conclude they were in uniform.”

The mayor had no comment about the political leaflet.

Firefighters plan to sue.

It is a community in turmoil with its firefighters.  Their union is already suing concerning contract negotiations with the city and one firefighter is suing for discrimination.



  • Big Dog Tom

    U City seems to be in real hot water with everyone suing them. Looks like the citizes there will have to shell out some big bucks when they lose all those lawsuits!

  • fire

    They are not in uniform. They are wearing there PPE bunker gear. Turnout gear is not a class A or B uniform.


    It appears there are some serious issues by the politicians with the firfighters. It never fails that when politicians use their employees (firfighters in this case) for political purposes it is OK but when it isn’t in the politician’s favor their try to hang them out to dry! Especially when the politicians are Republicans! To bad the tax payers foot the bill for these Idiot Politicians!

  • John Public

    The City taxpayers paid for that bunker gear, and the big red engine behind them. The picture looks like a City endorsement.

    • Anonymous

      Where do you see the words “University City” on either the gear they are wearing or the truck they are standing in front of? You don’t see it because it is not there. Also, the piece of literature that this picture was distributed on stated clearly that the candidate was being endorsed by the firefighters and police officers. It said nothing about the candidate being endorsed by the City of University City.

  • CFDguy

    If the bunker gear is owned by the city then they are infact in uniform. However, I hope it works out for the firefighters!

  • Stephanie

    Looks like they are in turn out gear. I do not see any city, county or department emblems on any if them. Where I’m from as long as you don’t display identifying emblems you can be photographed without permission from your department. Give these guys a break.

  • Nick Frederiksen

    Put the firefighters back to work, let a judge make a finding on the picture and the uniform issue and move on. If the judge finds that the picture was a violation then amend the penalty to a written reprimand. We need qualified firefighters and the city needs to function on all fronts rather than one volatile issue.

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