Town Builds New Firehouse, Forgets Equipment And Staff

A town fire chief got the community to build a new $1.8 million firehouse, but it was never staffed or stocked with equipment.

By on September 27, 2018
(Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)

So, you’re a town, and you want a new firehouse. You build one, but what you didn’t realize was that you needed new equipment for that firehouse. Also, you need to hire a staff to run the place and put out fires. The new $1.8 million firehouse in Paradise, Missouri has been unstaffed for the past year and a half. They just didn’t hire anyone to run it.

Oh yeah, it caught the attention of some higher-ups as well, and it’s uncovering a pretty deep pool of fraud and illegal activity. So let’s go back to the beginning. Nicole Galloway is the State Auditor, and she started doing some digging. A firefighter moved to town from Kansas City, and started asking some questions after he saw what was going on. There was old, untested equipment, questionable safety implements, the works. Apparently he asked the right questions to the right people, because it started the long investigation.

Nicole Galloway tried getting in touch with the former fire chief (John Callahan) to find out what was going on, but he was being difficult. She ended up having to subpoena him to get some answers. After some more digging, several things started coming up. First, the former chief made a $1,747 claim for travel expenses on a trip he apparently never took. There was also a $200,000 find in the form of bonuses paid to the chief and firefighters. But, in Missouri, it’s illegal for public employees to get bonuses, if they’re “not tied to pre-determined incentives.” Safety-wise, respirators were untested for 4 years, which is just ridiculous. The former chief says he wasn’t aware they needed to be tested.

That fire chief was placed on leave last year (hence “former”), but somehow still negotiated about $93,000 for a 6-month period. Also, his photo is “missing” from the “past fire chiefs” gallery. Nicole turned her own investigation over to “authorities” to figure out if there’s anything criminal. But now, the current fire chief has to “repair a tarnished image,” and put that new firehouse to use. While gaining trust from the voters and community. See some more information about the whole situation here.

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