Bob Donovan
Press Release

Barrett Administration misleading public on fire department staffing

Statement from Alderman Bob Donovan October 26, 2015

By - Oct 26th, 2015 10:10 am

Given the significant number of fires we’ve had recently in Milwaukee (and the suburbs), people might want to know how adequately their local firehouse is staffed, and how prepared it is to help put out a fire.

Well, the people of Milwaukee better not be counting on the accuracy of the city’s website (Milwaukee Fire Department pages), as some of the information has been out of date and inaccurate for years.

Consider these inaccuracies on the MFD’s webpages:

Engine 1 (784 N. Broadway) – Ladder 1 is not in service here yet it still appears on the city’s website as being housed here. Ladder 1, aka ‘Tower 1,’ was moved to Station 3 (100 W. Virginia St.) in an effort to “mask” the decommissioning there of Engine 3. Engine 1 is currently the only piece of equipment at the Broadway engine house.

Engine 11 (2526 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.) – Engine 11 was decommissioned in 2013, yet it still appears on the city’s website as being housed here.

Engine 24 (4927 W. Fiebrantz Ave.) – Ladder 11 was removed from service some time ago, yet it still appears on the city’s website as being housed here.

Engine 25 (300 S. 84th St.) – Until today, Engine 25 was housed this year at Engine 35 (100 N. 64th St.) in an effort to “mask” the decommissioning there of Engine 35 in 2013. The city’s website continued to show Engine 25 housed at its usual S. 84th St. house throughout 2015.

Engine 35 (100 N. 64th St.) – Engine 35 was decommissioned in 2013, yet it still appears on the city’s website as being housed here. Further, Ladder 16 has been browned-out this year – continuing to list Ladder 16 as housed here during its brownout fails to provide nearby residents accurate information regarding their public safety. Beyond the decommissioning of Engine 35 and brownout of Ladder 16, this house, built in 1998, is undergoing $500,000 in roof repairs. As of today, there will be no firefighting apparatus stationed here until roof repairs are completed or later.

Engine 37 (5335 N. Teutonia Ave.) – Engine 37 has been browned-out this year – continuing to list Engine 37 as housed here during its brownout fails to provide nearby residents accurate information regarding their public safety.

Stations 3 (100 W. Virginia St.) and 5 (1313 W. Reservoir Ave.) – It is important to note that neither of these fire houses has water service – an engine to provide water service at a fire scene. Engines are a vital piece of equipment in a fire’s early stage, as each can carry 500 gallons of water to pump on to a fire before a permanent water source can be established. These two houses experience some of the highest call volumes in the city and nearby residents should not operate under the assumption that the fire house down the street from their residence will be able to quickly put out a fire – it will take additional time for an engine to arrive from another house or for a permanent water supply to be established.

So, Mr. Mayor, is this really how we should be providing public information about vital public safety resources?

I think not, and shame on you for carrying on this charade for years.

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9 thoughts on “Barrett Administration misleading public on fire department staffing”

  1. Kevin Baas says:

    When you find inaccurate or out of date information on a website, the conventional thing to do is to contact the person responsible for mantaining that information. Presumably someone in MFD of the fire and police commission.

  2. Kevin Baas says:

    typo: “…**In this case,** presumably someone in MFD **or** the fire and police commission.”

  3. Kevin Baas says:

    All else fails (e.g. if you don’t know the appropriate contact) you can file a request with IT and they can confirm with the appropriate parties and make sure the necessary changes get done.

  4. Kevin Baas says:

    …or you can file a Press Release.

    One of the two methods will get it fixed faster.

    By the way, I just checked the queue, and there are currently no open IT requests for changes to MFD pages on the city’s website.

  5. Casey says:

    @Kevin: How do people go about checking out the IT work req queue with the city?

  6. Kevin Baas says:

    @Casey: The public can’t. I work in city IT so I check it fairly regularly.

  7. AG says:

    I actually hold our city council members responsible for the content on our city website.

    Mr. Donovan, how could you have let this information get so out dated?? Don’t you have a staff that can contact the appropriate department to keep these things up to date??

  8. Kevin Baas says:

    @AG: that’s usually how it works, actually. Not meccessarily the common council, of course. But e.g. when an whine house loses a ladder, updating a website is not the first thing that comes to mind. Websites will get out of date and normally people – sometimes internal and sometimes external – contact the contact person given on the website. And in my time I’ve seen a few errors corrected this way — broken links, even changes in addresses. But this is the first time I’ve ever seen anyone report website errors in the form of a press release.

    Needless to say, it can’t be acted upon because it’s not an official channel.

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