Kinloch firefighters walk off the job amid concerns over district leadership

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KINLOCH, MO (KTVI) - Firefighters in Kinloch continue their strike after claims of mismanagement and corruption throughout the district.

"The perpetual cycle of corruption, family politics, friends of friends, it just keeps going over and over and over again" said Assistant Fire Chief Tim Rhodus.

"We finally had the opportunity to stop with that and do the right thing and since the indictments were handed down in the last few weeks to the Chief and the Board President we have since, the previous administration is starting to move back in again" he said.

Rhodus says ever since Fire Chief Darren Smalls and his wife Jayna who also served as the Board President were federally indicted on embezzlement charges last month, the district has been mismanaged.  Rhodus says that's what led his 18-man crew of volunteer firefighters to walk out over the weekend and not return until they say there is a change in leadership.

"We want an impartial board who will listen to not only the citizens, but also the firefighters the ones that are on the grounds, the ones who have to make these decisions and do it on the daily basis" Rhodus said.  "We want the board overhauled and we want to be able to challenge the Fire Chief they just appointed".

In the meantime, neighboring departments including Ferguson and Berkeley are handling any Kinloch fire calls, but Rhodus says his guys are ready to get back to work, only under the right circumstances.

"We want to give them [the city] back the service that they pay taxes for" Rhodus said.  "Every one of my guys is willing to walk back in right now and pick back up where they left off... we just need to be able to have someone who will talk with us and communicate and not just yell at us and make decisions that are completely, completely wrong" he said.

A meeting is scheduled for Thursday morning at the fire station where the firefighters hope to voice their concerns and reach an agreement with the board.

We were unsuccessful in reaching Interim Fire Chief Willie Pryor.

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