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Fire Chief Ernie Rhoads Takes Job in West County

Ernie Rhodes was named as the new fire chief at West County EMS and Fire Protection District Thursday evening. Rhoads served as fire chief for nine years.

Ernie Rhodes was announced Thursday as the new fire chief for the . 

The West County fire district serves a number of cities, including Town and Country, Manchester, Ballwin, Winchester, Twin Oaks, portions of Valley Park and nearby parts of unincorporated St. Louis County. 

Rhodes has served as fire chief in St. Charles for nine years where he managed 84 personnel and a $10.5 million dollar budget. He said the foreword-thinking nature of West County Fire Protection District attracted him to the job. 

"They embrace change," Rhodes said. "I looked at the opportunity that was here in St. Louis County and with the vision of the board... there's just a huge opportunity for some of the passions that I enjoy, one of them is education. I've been teaching within the fire service for many, many years and when I heard they built the  that really got my attention."

He said that overall the move was a better "career move and "a better opportunity" for him.

"I think I can serve at a higher capacity," Rhodes explained.

Rhodes said he expects his new role to begin Oct. 1. 

He brings extensive experience to the position, including 32 years in the fire service and has been a licensed paramedic for 26 years.

"I know fire services really well. I know every aspect of the job and that's what I really bring to the table," Rhodes. 

Richard Rognan, chairman of the West County EMS and Fire Protection District board, said 29 candidates were under serious consideration for the position, but ultimately Rhodes was offered the job because of his vision and credentials.

The Fire Protection District demoted their previous Fire Chief, David Frazier, to the position of deputy chief of logistics.  

Rhoads' energy and and vision for the future is what we needed," Rognan said. "Keep in mind there were 29 well qualified individuals, but when you look at Ernie's credentials."

The first item on his agenda is getting to know the people who work for the fire district, but Rhodes said he doesn't expect a lot of upset.

"I think the people are the most important resource. I want to know the business of the district. Look at the strategic plan, look at basically every aspect of the district," Rhodes explained. "I really don't foresee a lot of shake-ups and changes because these folks are really ahead of the curve."

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