West County EMS and Fire names a new chief
By: Jim Erickson
West County EMS and Fire Protection District has named a veteran St. Charles Fire Department chief to head its operations.
Ernie Rhodes, 47, was introduced at the West County Board of Directors meeting Sept. 6 after the Board approved his appointment to head the district’s operations. Rhodes has been the fire chief for the City of St. Charles for the past nine years. A West County news release about Rhodes’ appointment notes that his responsibilities at St. Charles included overseeing a $10.5 million budget and 84 employees.
Jeff Sadtler has been serving as acting chief at West County since the Board announced in June that then-chief Dave Frazier was being relieved of his duties and would serve as deputy chief of logistics. Frazier said then he didn’t know the reason for the change and the West County Board noted the reassignment was made in an effort to better position him and West County for the future.
The West County Board gave no further elaboration on their earlier decision during its meeting, or in the news release accompanying Rhodes’ appointment.
According to Richard Rognan, West County Board chairman, the district conducted a nationwide search that attracted 29 applicants. The search committee charged with reviewing the applications included a representative from Town & County, one of the communities West County serves, as well as the chiefs of adjoining fire protection districts.
Rhodes, who is recovering from rotator cuff surgery due to an injury incurred while playing baseball, won’t assume his new duties until late September or early October.
In presenting Rhodes at the Board meeting, Rognan noted the new chief holds a bachelor’s degree in applied behavioral science from National Lewis University in Chicago and has been a licensed paramedic for 26 years.
Rognan added that Rhodes “brings a wide range of unique experiences to the district, including deployment to the World Trade Center attack where he worked at ground zero for 10 days…” and work at other national disasters.
West County’s website says its operations include 54 line personnel and 10 administrative staff. Rhodes’ annual salary in his new assignment will be $122,000.