In 1949 The Robertson Fire Protection District was formed. As suburban life flourished, North St. Louis County became a destination for residential, commercial and industrial development. New residents developed communities in small communities north of the City of St. Louis such as Robertson, Florissant and Hazelwood.
In 1966 the then Village of Hazelwood attempted to annex the City of Robertson. At the time, Hazelwood Village officials told the St. Louis Post Dispatch that “if the annexation occurred, the Hazelwood department would supplement the district’s fire protection. “Our fire department would answer any alarm there and would work with the Robertson firemen,” Steiner said” (Frank O. Steiner was the chairman of the Hazelwood Board of Trustees.) Residents of the City of Robertson stopped the annexation for the time being.
In 1969 Hazelwood became a city and started annexing land throughout North County to build a robust tax base. Through the years the City continually tried annexing commercial and industrial areas within the Robertson Fire Protection District and other parts of the area. In 1975 a vote was held and only those who lived in the city voted to keep the Hazelwood Fire Department as the provider of fire service.
In 1987 the first vote to annex a large portion of the fire district into the City was held. This proposal would have brought the Brown Campus and Burke City into the City. Voters within the fire district said they wanted to keep the Robertson Fire Protection District and overall, the annexation proposal failed.
In a 1990 St. Louis Post-Dispatch article Hazelwood’s City Manager Ed Carlstrom is quoted as saying, “Hazelwood’s goal is to annex without hurting the financial stability of either the Robertson or the Florissant Valley fire districts.”
In 1991 the City placed the proposal on the ballot again. The annexation was successful by a small margin, but residents of the Fire District again voted to keep the Robertson Fire Protection District.
The annexation came under question by the courts in 1992. According to an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, during this process, “St. Louis County Circuit Court Judge Larry Kendrick clarified that the Robertson and Florissant Valley Fire Protection Districts will provide fire protection, emergency service and ambulance service to the residents in the annexed areas.”
1993 & 1994
In 1993 the Missouri Supreme Court voided the annexation and the land that had been annexed was returned to unincorporated St. Louis County. In 1994 Hazelwood worked to re-annex the land the Supreme Court took away in June 1993 and the Robertson Fire Protection District filed a lawsuit to stop the annexation.
In 1995 the courts found that removing the proposed annexed land from the Fire District would substantially affect their ability to provide adequate services in the remaining portion of the District. They also found that when residents were informed about the annexation they were told that the Robertson Fire Protection District would provide fire, emergency and ambulance in the annexated area and the City of Hazelwood would provide payment for these services.
The courts ordered the Fire District to continue providing fire, emergency, and ambulance services to the annexed area and the City of Hazelwood was ordered to pay the District fees for the services provided.
On April 6, 1995, the District and Hazelwood entered into a Fire Service Agreement, whereby the District agreed to continue to provide fire, emergency, and ambulance services to the annexed area. In exchange, Hazelwood agreed to pay the District an annual fee for these services, with the annual fee derived from tax revenues collected from property owners in the annexed area.
In December 2017 the City of Hazelwood passed a resolution cancelling the 1995 Fire Service Agreement.
The City of Hazelwood did not pay the RFPD for services provided to District residents, withholding more than $3 million. This action forced the Robertson Fire Protection District to take legal action to ensure funding is available to provide emergency services. There are currently two petitions filed with the St. Louis County Courts to enforce the provisions of the Fire Service Agreement.