Greenfield Fire Department to use money from new tax increase to curb non-emergency calls

NOW: Greenfield Fire Department to use money from new tax increase to curb non-emergency calls

GREENFIELD, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Some fire departments in southeast Wisconsin will have more resources going into one of the most fire-prone times of year thanks to some referenda that passed in November. 

Greenfield voters said they are willing to pay more taxes for more services from their fire department, but the Fire Department says they aren't going to spend that money on traditional things like firefighters and trucks. 

Greenfield Fire Chief John Cohn says resources have been tough. 

"When fuel is going up, you know wages are going up, health insurance is going up and growth isn't a very large number that money starts to get squeezed a little bit," said Chief Cohn. 

That's why he's glad voters approved a tax increase for fire and police. 

A similar measure failed to pass in Franklin. The North Shore Fire Department says the good news is now most local departments work together. 

"It's been a huge advantage. We have resources that we get from the city of Milwaukee that we really never had access to before and likewise, especially on this northeast end, where we're kind of isolated in the county, they have access to our resources," said Lt. Dan Tyk with North Shore Fire Rescue. 

Cohn says Greenfield's new tax money will go toward cutting down on medical responses which are now 90% of their calls but many of them don't end up being emergencies. 

"We've gone to patients that had chapped lips. We actually transported the person to the hospital," Cohn said. 

The tax money will go toward hiring a training officer and a social worker partly to try and cut down on sending emergency services to people who don't need them. 

"We don't want our resources to be used up on one of these low acuity calls when somebody's having a heart attack or a stroke," Chief Cohn said.

Local firefighters say they are confident in their response times for fires and urge people not to leave meals cooking unattended which is the leading cause of Thanksgiving fires. 

"Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires here in the United States," says Greenfield Fire Department firefighter Shannon Richter. 

Greenfield Fire says the tax levy will change in 2019 and that's when they will add those new positions in Greenfield. 

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