St. Louis Public Radio News
6:50 pm
Wed April 7, 2010

Lambert to close firehouse

St. Louis, MO. – Lambert Airport will close one of three fire houses and lay off 17 firefighters.

The Lambert Commission approved the plan Wednesday.

Opponents, including members Firefighter's Local 73, say the move will delay response times to the terminal

The union's president, Chris Molitor, says the firehouse was the closest to the terminal and closing it will mean longer response times.

"I think what the (airport) director is doing is gambling that nothing will occur, and in our business we don't have that luxury of gambling like that," Molitor said.

But Lambert Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge says the closure will not affect safety.

"If there was any concern whatsoever on my behalf that it was a public safety issue or that it was a concern for our employees, it wouldn't even be on the docket to discuss," she said. "It's not. We meet and exceed all of the regulations that are set forth."

The closure will save the airport about $1.7 million.

State Auditor Susan Montee recommended the move in an audit of the airport last year saying the Federal Aviation Administration found the third firehouse was not needed.