Timeline for 'A chief under fire'

Sunday, January 14, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 4:46 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008



Missouri Task Force 1 deploys to World Trade Center.


The governing board votes to give then secretary Sharon Curry a promotion to assistant chief and give her a pay raise to $65,000. By 2006, Curry’s salary will top $93,000.



Rob Brown, the former chief of the Castle Rock, Colo., Fire and Rescue Department, is named as the new chief-of-staff in charge of “day-to-day issues within the county.” Fire Chief Steve Paulsell will handle “worldwide” issues and funding.



Bruce Piringer, the former director of MU’s Fire and Rescue Training Institute, is hired to lead the fire district’s training and education bureau.



John M. Gordon Sr. is sworn in as the newest member of the fire district’s three-person governing board.



Several former and current employees and volunteers – led by Brown and Piringer – publicly air their complaints against the fire district’s top brass alleging, among other things, sexual discrimination and a hostile work environment.

Glenda Castrop, the wife of a former volunteer firefighter, organizes a recall petition aimed at ousting the fire district’s elected board.


The fire district’s governing board agrees to hire a consultant to examine the department’s administrative problems.

Brown and Piringer are fired. Two volunteer battalion chiefs, Todd Burke and Jerry Jenkins, are relieved of their duties.

Missouri Task Force 1, deploys to Hurricane Katrina.


Circuit Judge Ellen Roper rules against Piringer in his wrongful termination lawsuit that he filed in circuit court to get his job back.


Paulsell is given power to increase salaries based on merit and performance evaluations.



Board district chairman Willis Smith commits suicide outside his rural county home. His son Michael and Paulsell point to a recall petition as a possible motive for Smith’s suicide.


Myrtle Rapp is named chairwoman of the fire district’s governing board, having earlier chosen not to seek re-election. She leaves the board in the spring.


Columbia businessman David Griggs, who is also a former county commissioner, is appointed to fill Smith’s vacant seat on the fire district board.

Shelly Dometrorch, a former lieutenant with the Boone County Sheriff’s Department, edges out Ashland businessman Don Farris in a public election for the third spot on the fire district’s board.

The FBI begins looking into whether the fire district misappropriated taxpayer funds by spending $200,000 on a bronze statue that stands in front of the agency’s headquarters on Interstate 70 Drive Northwest near Stadium Boulevard.


Andrea Meinhart, the fire district’s financial director, resigns after being put on paid leave following an audit that showed “bookkeeping mistakes.” Columbia police are contacted to investigate missing petty cash from several accounts.

Six former employees and volunteers begin filing sexual harassment and wrongful termination complaints with the fire district.


The fire district’s governing board promises a thorough examination of paid salaries, which critics have called too high, and outdated department policies related to the supervision of employees.

The fire district lowers its tax rate 14 percent.


A 19-year-old woman who says she was sexually assaulted in a Boone County Fire station on Highway 63 South files a lawsuit against a volunteer firefighter, Jeremy Brady, and the fire district in circuit court.

The fire district’s board hires a consultant to update its personnel guidelines.

Federally brokered talks between the fire district and the group of former employees and volunteers reaches an “impasse.”


An independent audit shows that thousands of dollars in petty cash has been misappropriated and that more than $500,000 in federal money was used for the wrong purpose. Meinhart is blamed.


Bruce Piringer, the fire district’s former assistant chief in charge of training, files a lawsuit in federal court claiming he was subject to sexual harassment and fired because he spoke out against Paulsell and Curry.

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