Wisconsin's Busiest Fire Engine Looks to Continue Building Community Relations
There's an unwritten rule at Milwaukee's Fire Station 13: Sit down to eat a meal, and the alarm signaling a call is guaranteed to go off.
It's not only the busiest fire station in Milwaukee, but the busiest in the state, totaling 5708 calls last year.
"We come here knowing you're going to average 20-24 runs a day, that you're not going to sleep," says Lt. Jeff Gauthier. "But the people that work in this house want to be here."
Gauthier says between 85-90% of their calls are EMS related. Saturday morning, CBS-58 rode along, as they left the station at 30th and Locust and bounced from call to call. We watched them revive an unconscious diabetic, and help calm down a man who was having trouble breathing. One thing is clear: There's a lot more to being a Milwaukee firefighter, than just fighting fires.
"Today's firefighter does a lot of different things," says Gauthier.
And for firefighters at Station 13, there's been some other things they've had to deal with this year.
In February, someone shot up their station, leaving six bullet holes in an area they normally would have been sitting in. Police have still not made any arrests.
Luckily, dinner was late that night, meaning the crew was gathered in the kitchen instead.
They've also had a brick thrown dropped from a bridge a windshield, stopping a response to an emergency.
"It's increasingly difficult to go and try to save people, when you have others actively working against you," says Gauthier.
But through it all, they continue to push forward, now with an even bigger focus on community relations.
Saturday afternoon, they helped out at the annual Sherman Park Easter Egg Hunt, letting kids try on firefighting gear, and teaching important CPR techniques.
"It gives us the opportunity to become kind of human to them," he says. "It's our job to go out and keep putting our best face forward."
It's a welcome break for a crew that spends 24 to 48 hour shifts constantly waiting for the next call.
"You know you're going to be very tired when we go home to your family the next day. And through all that, we choose to do that because of the good people that we meet in the neighborhood."