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MFD's repair shop team are the unsung heroes of the Milwaukee Fire Department

Posted at 6:54 PM, Feb 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-08 11:11:00-05

They're the unsung heroes of the Milwaukee Fire Department.

Saving lives, but they rarely hit the streets. TODAY’S TMJ4 spent Thursday with MFD’s repair shop in Walker’s Point.

The operation costs $5 milllion to $6 million per year. It includes a small team of about 40 people from various backgrounds working to keep engines running.

“It’s always busy but that’s why we’re here,” said John Litchford, Deputy of the Fire Support Division.

Inside the shop, a whiteboard listed with work jobs hangs on a wall.

The team consists of several mechanics, carpenters, painters, and even welders, among other trades.

While they don’t fight fires firsthand, the crew understands the work they do is essential.

“I fixed something and I had a few firefighters shake my hand and say, ‘Thanks,’” said welder Gregory Brulla. “That's when it dawned on me.”

Litchford said his goal is simple.

“Our main focus is always to keep the wheel rolling,” Litchford said.

In 2019, the team finished more than 3,800 service jobs on a feed of 208 MFD vehicles.

“People run into firetrucks more than I ever thought,” Litchford said.

Currently, their high-profile job is Engine 30, a new engine that sits out back after being hit by a reckless driver in January.

‘We always ask are the individual and people involved in this okay,” Litchford said.

The cost to fix Engine 30 is roughly $170,000. The timetable, if repaired, can take up to six months.

“It’s 100 percent taxpayer dollars,” Litchford said.

No matter the job, the support team said they’re ready for it. Their favorite saying is, “Without us. They walk,” a reminder of how important the work they do is.

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