"How can we feel safe?": Fire Station closures raise concerns across Milwaukee

NOW: “How can we feel safe?“: Fire Station closures raise concerns across Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Massive cuts are coming to the Milwaukee Fire Department, announcing Tuesday the closure of six fire stations across the city. 

Off Franklin and Brady Street in Milwaukee, firefighting gear lines the walls of 'Hosed on Brady'.

The popular bar sits just feet from Fire Station 6, a proud relationship for owner Donna Olson. 

"When Engine 6 goes out, we pour a shot and we do a toast to their safe return," she says. "They are family, to this neighborhood. Not just a friend, they are family." 

But that close relationship, is set to end. Fire Station 6 is one of six stations being shut down by the MFD at year's end.

The department will receive a $20-Million cut in funding as part of Mayor Tom Barrett's 2018 budget. 

"We're putting a streetcar in, but we can't afford our firefighters and police officers? Something is wrong with that," says Olson. 

Fire Chief Mark Rohlfing rolled out the cuts at a press conference Tuesday afternoon, calling the cuts unprecedented. 

"It's probably the largest cut that anybody can remember" 

Rohfling says his team used computer analytics to decide which stations to close based on geographic location and calls for service. 

"It does some predictive analysis for us so we can do appropriate decision making about where we place our resources." 

The following six locations will be closed

  • Fire Station 3 (100 W. Virginia Street)
  • Fire Station 5 (1313 W. Reservoir Avenue)
  • Fire Station 6 (1693 N. Franklin Place
  • Fire Station 25 (300 S. 84th Street)
  • Fire Station 28 (424 N. 30th Street
  • Fire Station 31 (2400 S. 8th Street

Rohlfing says response times on average will increase by 5 to 25 seconds for most calls city-wide. 

That doesn't sit well with people on Brady Street, one of Milwaukee's busiest bar districts.

"It's a shame that we're losing this, and we're the most densely populated neighborhood," said Deb Langkau. "It's kind of heartbreaking and unsafe, really." 

"I pay a lot of taxes down here, and I feel like I'm being compromised," said Olson. 

Rohlfing says his department will still meet national response time standards, despite the cuts.

"We will be busier, but I want our citizens to know you'll continue to get excellent service from the Milwaukee Fire Department." 

The stations will close at the end of the year. The fire department is also eliminating 75 firefighting jobs. They aren't letting anyone go, but won't be filling 75 open open positions as they were hoping to. 

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