By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Dec 04, 2017 at 4:01 PM

In September, news emerged that due to budget cuts, the Milwaukee Fire Department would be forced to undertake a series of firehouse closings, decommissionings of engine and truck companies, and recommissionings of some other engine companies.

Some of those changes have already occurred, others go into effect today and the rest happen on Dec. 18.

As part of these moves, 75 positions will be eliminated, including 45 firefighters, 15 heavy equipment operators, 10 lieutenants and five captains.

Here is a summary of the changes wrought by the 2018 city budget, which passed last month, along with dates the changes go into effect. A firehouse locator can be found here.

Six stations closing:

  • Fire Station 3, 100 W. Virginia St. (will be utilized by MFD Construction and Maintenance), Dec. 4
  • Fire Station 5, 1313 W. Reservoir Ave. (will be utilized as the MFD Wellness Center), Dec. 18
  • Fire Station 6, 1693 N. Franklin Pl., (will be utilized as the MFD Community Relations and Education Office), Dec. 18
  • Fire Station 25, 300 S. 84th St., Nov. 20
  • Fire Station 28, 424 N. 30th St., Nov. 20
  • Fire Station 31, 2400 S. 8th St., Dec. 18

Four engine companies, quartered at some of those houses, decomissioned:

  • Engine Company 6, 1693 N. Franklin Pl., Dec. 18
  • Engine Company 25, 300 S. 84th St., Nov. 20
  • Engine Company 28, 424 N. 30th St., Nov. 20
  • Engine Company 31, 2400 S. 8th St., Dec. 18

Four ladder truck companies being decommissioned, though their stations, which also house engine companies, will remain open:

  • Truck Company 6, 2526 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Dec. 18
  • Truck Company 12, 2903 N. Teutonia Ave., Dec. 18
  • Truck Company 15, 5335 N. Teutonia Ave., Dec. 18
  • Truck Company 17, 5600 W. Oklahoma Ave., Nov. 20

Three engine companies being recommissioned:

  • Engine Company 11, 2526 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Dec. 18
  • Engine Company 35, 100 N. 64th St., Nov. 20
  • Engine Company 37, 5335 N. Teutonia Ave., Dec. 18

Other moves include:

  • 3rd Battalion Chief moving from Station 33 to Station 10, Nov. 20
  • MED (medical) 14 moving to Station 35, Nov. 20
  • MED 18 moving to Station 29, Nov. 20
  • Haz-Mat squad moving to Station 33, Nov. 20
  • Truck 16 moving to Station 33, Nov. 20
  • Dive team moving from Station 3 to Station 2, Dec. 4
  • Engine 23 Tactical Emergency Medical Service personnel moving to Engine 1, Dec. 4
  • Engine 1 boat pilots moving to Engine 2, Dec. 4
  • Engine 12 personnel moving to Engine 23, Dec. 4
  • Truck 2 personnel moving to Truck 1, 2130 W. Oklahoma Ave., Dec. 4
  • Rescue 1 moving to Station 23, 1400 S. 9th St., Dec. 4
  • Engine 2 Incident Command Post personnel moving to Engine 12, Dec. 4
  • 1st Battalion Chief moving from Station 5 to Station 18, Dec. 18
  • 2nd Battalion Chief moving from Station 24 to Station 13, Dec. 18
  • MED 7 moving to Station 30, Dec. 18
  • MED 15 moving to Station 11, Dec. 18
  • MED 16 moving to Station 9, Dec. 18
  • Car 14 moving to Station 2, Dec. 18

When the changes were announced, an MFD statement said:

"The Firefighting Deputy Chiefs, under the supervision of the Operations Assistant Chief, performed a review of fire station locations and resource placements. This review resulted in this 2018 plan, which retains optimal emergency response times city-wide.

"The Firefighting Deputy Chiefs’ extensive experience, along with Deccan software, was utilized to provide Incident Scores (Historical Data) and Coverage Scores (Geographic Distribution) for necessary data analysis to allow for appropriate decision-making with in operational real ities. Further, structural aspects of the firehouses were reviewed; some in need of significant and expensive work to make the floors structurally sound and able to hold modern apparatus.

"It is to be noted that these reductions in fire stations and apparatus/companies will not result in any layoffs, or any firefighters losing their jobs; the department runs with enough personnel vacancies to absorb these losses of fire apparatus/companies.

"After exhaustive data analysis, the following apparatus/companies and fire stations will be closed, decommissioned or recommissioned."

Ashley Luthern reported in the Journal Sentinel that Milwaukee Fire Chief Mark Rohlfing said the changes, "will add 5 to 25 seconds to response times, which would remain under the national average ... The department's current average time for an engine to arrive on scene is 2 minutes and 50 seconds."

One retired firefighter told me that the moves make service changes inevitable.

"Fire departments are steeped in tradition and change is always difficult," said retired MFD captain Carter Hunnicutt. "I guarantee you that despite the challenges, the firefighters will always give their best even if it means more risk to them personally. That said, there is simply no way that service will not be impacted."

Rohlfing told Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, "We looked at all the data and where the engine houses are located and came up with the best options we could to cover the city. You’re dealt a hand and you have to do the best you can with it."

The decommissioning of Engine 6 on Dec. 18 at 8 a.m. will be the subject a "wake" that will take place at at 8:01 a.m. at Hosed on Brady, 1689 N. Franklin Pl., a firefighting-themed tavern adjacent to the Engine 6 quarters.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.