CHESTERFIELD, Mo. (KMOX) – More feathers are being ruffled in the Monarch Fire Protection District as firefighters are upset with the district’s board over the firing of the department’s Public Education Officer.

Ray Antonacci came back from a serious motorcycle accident to earn his inspector’s permit and has spent the last nine months educating children and adults on fire safety and CPR.

The board, citing budgetary considerations, has fired Antonacci from his $55,000-per-year job.

Then, union representative Chris Gelven says, the board voted to acquire a $5 million insurance policy for each board member at an annual cost of $206,000, including a $100,000 deductible.

“Basically, what they’re telling our citizens is this service to you – educating you, keeping you safe – is nowhere near as important to us as insuring ourselves,” Gelven says.

As PEO, Antonacci taught over 100 people CPR and developed fire emergency plans for schools, churches, senior citizens centers, and businesses, Gelven says.

“Our citizens and our residents are bearing the cost, which is going to cost them even more money, to get rid of a service,” he says. “So decreasing services while increasing the cost to residents.”

The firefighters are members of the International Association of Firefighters/Professional Firefighters of Eastern Missouri Local 2665.

The union is urging residents to weigh in about the move during tonight’s open board meeting at 5:30 p.m. at the district headquarters on Olive and River Valley Drive.

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