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Commission reverses decision on Svetanics


By BILL MILLIGAN

For the Call

The St. Louis County Fire Standards Commission recently reversed its decision to require Lemay Fire Protection District Chief Neil Svetanics to attend the St. Louis County Fire Academy.

The commission had voted 3-3 on June 17 on a motion to uphold the recommendation of County Counselor Pat Redington and certify Svetanics as Lemay fire chief.

On July 1, the vote was 4-2.

"I'm delighted to have this over with,'' Svetanics told the Call Monday. "I am comfortable they were reasonable people and all trying to do the right thing. My situation was unique and I am happy with the favorable decision.

Svetanics replaced George Williams at Lemay on Dec. 2.

As St. Louis fire chief in 1993, Svetanics directed all state and local efforts to contain the worst flooding in local history. He graduated the St. Louis Fire Academy in 1962 and served two years as battalion chief at St. Louis International Airport.

Section 6.040 of the St. Louis County Charter states, in part, that "the minimum training and educational standards established by the commission (in 1979) shall not apply to any person who served as a firefighter for 12 consecutive months prior to the adoption of this section.''

Throughout the flap over his certification for service with Lemay, Svetanics tried to stay above the fray.

"I'm going to continue coming to work every day,'' he said in June. "I'll let the politicians and lawyers deal with it from here.''

In a July 10 letter to Lemay Fire Protection District attorney Matthew Hoffman, commission Chairman Calvert Worth said that "the minimum training and educational standards established by the commission shall not apply to Chief Svetanics.''

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