Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

Aaron Lipski Given Four-Year Term As Fire Chief

Chief comes from a family that is synonymous with Milwaukee fire fighting.

By - Apr 22nd, 2022 03:47 pm
Milwaukee Fire Chief Aaron Lipski speaks at a March 2022 press conference. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee Fire Chief Aaron Lipski speaks at a March 2022 press conference. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The Fire & Police Commission wants to see Fire Chief Aaron Lipski on the job for at least four more years.

The commission voted unanimously Thursday evening to give Lipski, 48, a four-year contract to lead the Milwaukee Fire Department. Lipski became acting chief upon Mark Rohlfing‘s October 2020 retirement and “permanent” chief in May 2021 when he was awarded the remaining year of Rohlfing’s term.”

The commissioners praised Lipski for his candor, dedication, understanding of the community and vision for the department.

“I think that’s an important part of leadership,” said Commissioner Bree Spencer.

“He hasn’t done anything that’s gotten in serious trouble, so that’s always a good sign,” said Commissioner Joan Kessler.

“I’m really excited to keep working together,” said Commissioner Amanda Avalos.

Lipski joined the fire department in 1997 and has steadily risen in the ranks. He was promoted to the role of battalion chief in 2010, deputy chief in 2012 and assistant chief in 2019. He previously worked for a private ambulance company.

“To be put in this position is not something I really ever believed was going to happen, so I’m grateful and I’m humbled,” Lipski told the commission.

The chief acknowledged that the city is going through a difficult period and that the fire department helps people on what’s often the worst day of their life, but projected an optimistic tone for the future.

“I feel that the sun is about to rise. I think we have a lot of real good things happening right now,” he said.

Lipski praised his wife, daughter and all of the employees of the fire department.

“It is a thing of beauty to watch these men and women work,” he said.

The chief holds a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in public administration from UW-Milwaukee.

The Lipski family has a long history with the Milwaukee Fire Department. Lipski’s great grandfather, grandfather and father were all Milwaukee firefighters, as were a series of uncles and great uncles. There has been a Lipski on the force every year since 1912.

Lipski’s older brother Daniel Lipski retired as a deputy chief from the Milwaukee Fire Department in March 2021.

Lipski thanked Police Chief Jeffrey Norman for his friendship and what he said was an unprecedentedly-strong working relationship. “Both departments need each other and the community needs both departments,” said the fire chief.

The chief’s reappointment drew support from Mayor Cavalier Johnson and at least one member of the Common Council.

“Chief Aaron Lipski has performed admirably as Chief of the Milwaukee Fire Department, and I am pleased the Fire and Police Commission has acted favorably on his reappointment this evening,” said Johnson in a statement. “Chief Lipski is a passionate leader, a thoughtful strategist, and a respected colleague. I look forward to continuing to cooperate with him as we work to make Milwaukee a safer city.”

“Milwaukee is very fortunate to have a hometown person leading the department, especially one with a long line of family firefighters like Chief Lipski. It’s safe to say that serving the community and fighting fires is in his blood, and I’m confident he will be an outstanding leader for the Milwaukee Fire Department in the years to come,” said Alderman Mark Borkowski in a statement.

The Fire & Police Commission held a public listening session on Lipski’s reappointment in March.

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