Chief Officers & Key Personnel

Mehlville Fire Protection District’s Board of Directors oversees District operations and appoints the Fire Chief. The Fire Chief supervises a staff authorized by the Board to carry out the essential operations of the Fire District. Two Assistant Chiefs head up Fire Operations and Emergency Medical Services. Three Deputy Chiefs and three EMS Battalion Chiefs supervise three 24-hour shifts of firefighting and paramedic personnel. The Fire Marshal is in charge of the Fire Prevention Bureau.

Brian Hendricks – Fire Chief

Brian Hendricks has served as Chief of Mehlville Fire Protection District since 2011. He began his District career in 1998, was promoted to Captain in 2008, Deputy Chief Training Officer in 2009, and Assistant Chief in 2010. As Chief, he has emphasized proactive responses to the changing needs of District residents and to shifting trends in fire and emergency medical services. Under Hendricks’ leadership, the District has accelerated its focus on modern firefighting techniques, updated the apparatus fleet, developed elite special operations teams, and constructed a dedicated training facility where a variety of scenarios can be staged, including live fire, high angle and trench rescue. In addition, important new programs in critical care and community paramedicine have been implemented to improve quality of care and patient outcomes.

Daniel C. LaFata – Assistant Chief

Assistant Chief Dan LaFata began his fire service career as a volunteer firefighter for Shady Valley Fire Protection District and worked part-time for Rock Township Ambulance District.  From there, he went to work for the City of Webster Groves as a firefighter paramedic.  He came to Mehlville in 1995.  He was promoted to Captain in 2006, Deputy Chief Training Officer in 2010 and Assistant Fire Chief, in 2012.  Assistant Chief LaFata has a bachelor’s degree in Fire Science Administration as well as state certifications in Firefighter I and II, Fire Officer I and II, Fire Instructor I and II, Fire Investigator and Fire Inspector I.  He oversees the Districts special operations teams and is one of the District’s pilots for the Drone Team.  Assistant Chief LaFata lives in Oakville with his wife, son, and three dogs.

Todd Besancenez – Assistant Chief EMS

Todd Besancenez has over 37 years of experience in pre-hospital emergency care and services. He started his career at Mehlville Fire Protection District in 1995, was promoted to EMS Field Training Officer in 2010, Deputy Chief EMS in 2015, and Assistant Chief EMS in 2019.

Assistant Chief Besancenez has been integral to the District’s dedication to improving patient outcomes and quality of care. He developed the District’s Critical Care Paramedic program and spearheaded the launch of Mehlville Mobile Healthcare, the District’s community paramedicine program. He holds certifications in Critical Care and Community Paramedicine.

Craig P. Walk – EMS Administrator

Craig Walk has 35 years of management experience in the delivery of pre-hospital emergency medical services and 43 years of overall experience in the Emergency Medical Service field. His diverse background includes field paramedic, aeromedical and pediatric critical care, administrator and EMS educator. Walk first worked for MFPD from 1978 to 1996, achieving promotions to Lieutenant and later EMS Supervisor. He returned to MFPD as Deputy Chief EMS in 2006 and was appointed to his current position in 2012 and has been instrumental in developing the District’s successful Critical Care Paramedic Program.

Walk was in the first graduating class of the paramedic program at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Organization Administration from St. Louis University and his Master’s Degree in Management from Webster University.

Ed Berkel – Fire Marshal

Ed Berkel has served as the District’s Fire Marshal since 1985, having begun his career in 1981 as a Fire Inspector. He heads up the Fire Prevention Bureau and performs plan review and inspection on the District’s most complex projects. His professional memberships include the International Code Council (ICC), National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), Missouri Association of Building Officials and Inspectors (MABOI), Fire Marshals Association of Missouri (FMAM), and the Greater St. Louis Metropolitan Area Fire Marshal Association (MFMA).

From 2002 to 2007, Berkel served as an elected member of the Board of Directors for the ICC, the largest building safety and fire prevention organization in the world. Later the ICC named him an Honorary Member for his outstanding service, and in 2019 he received their President’s Award, given to Code Change Moderators. The Fire Marshals Association of Missouri gave him their “Edward M. Vineyard Award” in 2007 recognizing his contributions to the cause of fire prevention.

Tara Gremminger, PHR - Human Resources Manager

Tara Gremminger has over twenty years of human resources management experience within construction, manufacturing, and engineering industries. Throughout her career she has been responsible for providing subject matter expertise in human resource best practices and department operational improvement efforts. Her mission is to partner with the District’s leadership team to provide our valuable employees a positive and engaging work environment.

Gremminger earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Southeast Missouri State University and is a Certified Professional in Human Resources Management (PHR) since 2010. When she isn’t working, you will find her spending time with family, listening to local bands, planning her next beach vacation, and spoiling her dog, Pepper.