Monarch firefighters rally for captain

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. - A Monarch firefighter is fighting for his job and his colleagues are rallying around him. His supporters say he's in trouble for speaking to the media about a public issue.

The Monarch Fire Protection District Board met Thursday to talk about Capt. Chris Gelven's fate. During two closed meetings, it didn't reach a decision on whether to punish the firefighter. So, it may be a week before a decision is made. If he is punished, his supporters say they'll help him fight it.

"Your fire district is burning down" is among the messages those supporters wrote on posters and held outside the District Headquarters on Olive Thursday.

"I know exactly what Chris is going through. He was here for me and that's why I'm here for him," said former Monarch Fire Chief John Borgmann.

Less than a year ago, a crowd rallied on Borgmann's behalf when the board suspended him. Months later, he retired after 37 years on the job.

"[The board members] had their agenda and they thought they were the experts," said Borgmann. "It was just time for me to step back because I knew there was nothing I could do."

But Borgmann is doing something to help support Capt. Gelven. The firefighter union says Gelven is in trouble for speaking to the media about used, bullet proof vests the board reportedly purchased.

"You have this issue of taxpayer dollars being used," said local Firefighter Union Executive Vice President Brad Peters.

The union says board members planned to install the vests on the wall in front of where they sit for security.

"Why don't you do something to protect everyone in the room and not just yourself?" said Peters.

But the group says this issue goes beyond bullet proof vests. It says it's more about the intense fight playing out between Monarch firefighters and two of the three members of the board in charge of them.

The department also recently had its Chief leave for a different department. He was also at the rally and says he left because of the board. He also says in the previous departments where he's worked, he has not experienced a conflict like the one playing out between the Monarch firefighters and the board.

NewsChannel 5 asked one of the board members to comment on the board's behalf Thursday, but she declined.


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