ST. LOUIS – In a case that 17 firefighters filed to get the city to pay them for what they earned, St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson gave testimony before a federal judge on Monday.

On the stand, Jenkerson said, “They passed the test” and “They have what it takes.”

Yet those promotions are being held up by the St. Louis Department of Public Safety (DPS), which refuses to talk about it with FOX 2.

Jenkerson said on the stand that he was caught off guard when the city started denying the promotions last year. He said the promotions are based on a list of people supplied by DPS and that they even fall within the city budget that the board of aldermen has already authorized.

St. Louis City counselors were mostly silent during the chief’s testimony, except when he was asked if the stalled promotions would improve diversity. City lawyers objected. The judge overruled the objection, and Jenkerson said yes, the promotions would improve diversity.

Dan Clark, president of St. Louis Firefighters Local 73, explained one example of how it can improve diversity.

“We currently have one female African American fire captain on the job. With these promotions, we would triple that number,” he said.

In its court response, a St. Louis City counselor pointed out a previous federal lawsuit over firefighter testing that resulted in a 2017 settlement agreement. The city counselor went on to say that the agreement included a provision requiring the administration of new promotional exams by December 2018.

Those exams are still not ready. FOX 2 asked the city why it was delayed. A DPS spokesperson declined to answer, citing the lawsuit.

Clark said his members have been begging for a new test.

“We’re always asking—to keep people reaching for promotion, reaching to climb that ladder makes a better, more educated department,” he said. “It’s always been the city that holds up testing.”

Jenkerson said on the stand that safety is also impacted because the National Fire Protection Association fire standards say there should be one supervisor per truck. Jenkerson indicated his department would not meet that standard without the promotions.
The judge is currently considering the firefighters’ court action and could decide any day.