Milwaukee Fire Department to Shut Down Four Vehicles

The Milwaukee Fire Department is replacing rolling "brownouts" with permanent decommissions for four pieces of equipment, leaving one fewer fire truck on city streets in 2014 than this year, the chief says.

"What we're really doing now is catching up to where we would have been if we would have been shutting those apparatus down as we moved forward, instead of having the brownouts," Fire Chief Mark Rohlfing said.

The chief says most residents won't see any change in service, but union officials say they oppose the decommissions, believing it will hurt the department in the long run.

During a brownout, the engines and trucks are in the station fully equipped, but not in use, and the personnel with the engine are moved to other locations. Brownouts are undertaken to save money.

In 2010 and 2011, there were two brownouts, while three brownouts occurred in 2012 and 2013. The brownouts are estimated to have saved the city about $7 million.

Four vehicles -- Engines 5, 11 and 35 and Truck 14 in Station 23 -- will be decommissioned. Of those, three have not been in use for at least two years because of brownouts. Fire engines are considered water-pumpers, while the trucks have ladders.

Station 5, 1313 W. Reservoir Ave., will have a battalion chief, med unit and fire investigation unit, but no firefighting equipment. Stations 11 and 35 will have trucks with ladders, but no engines with pumpers.

The department considered call volume, population density and response times in making its decision, said Michael Tobin, executive director of the Fire and Police Commission.

For more information, view www.jsonline.com

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