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How shared firefighter services could be the new solution to improving emergency response times

Milwaukee Fire Station 28 near 30th and St. Paul reopened Monday after being closed since 2018 due to city budget cuts.
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Posted at 4:47 PM, Jan 23, 2023

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Fire Station 28 near 30th and St. Paul reopened Monday after being closed since 2018 due to city budget cuts.

The re-opening is part of a collaborative pilot program with the Wauwatosa Fire Department to reposition an engine to Milwaukee in hopes to improve response times to calls.

Alderman Bob Baumann shared what he noticed when Fire Station 28 closed, just five blocks from his home.

"We went from a five-block trip from this station from my neighborhood to almost a 20-block trip from the downtown firehouses from our neighborhood," he said. "That difference can mean life or death."

The City of Milwaukee and Wauwatosa will test out these shared resources for one year to see if it works. The Milwaukee Fire chief says this could be a new solution to tackle rising emergency calls and ongoing staffing shortages due to no changes in funding.

Here's how it will work: A portion of Wauwatosa's downtown firehouse is moving to Milwaukee's Station 35. Chief Aaron Lipski said, "The benefit here is they were very, very interested in better coverage in the southeast corner of their response area which is just across Bluemound Road."

The Milwaukee firefighters at Engine 35 are moving to the newly opened Station 28.

Chief Lipski said, "The beauty of this is that we've expanded the footprint and it's costing nobody any additional money whatsoever."

Chief Lipski tells us that right now, the average response time to a house fire is about 3.5 to 4 minutes. Lipski is confident we will see a difference.

"If I can get companies to an industrial accident down in the valley here, or to an incident at Molson Coors, get them there quicker, it makes all the difference," he said.

In turn, it could alleviate calls to at least two other Milwaukee fire stations, which have had to pick up the burden since Station 28 closed.

One small idea for solving a huge fiscal problem, which makes neighbors feel safer.

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