Milwaukee Fire Department Administration has announced the first temporary closings of firefighting apparatus and unfortunately for BayView residents, we will be the first to lose a truck company. From Dec. 27th, 2009 thru Jan. 31, 2010, BayView residents will have to do without the protection of Truck Company 6, located at 2526 S. Kinnickinnic Avenue. Fire Department Administration refers to the closings as “brown-outs”, but let it be clear, it's the closing of a firefighting/rescue company in your neighborhood.
Closing a truck company is significant as there are only 15 truck companies city wide as of Dec. 27th, 2009, and only 5 truck companies South of the Menominee Valley. The “first in” truck company is a “rolling toolbox” of trained personnel and equipment used to perform quick rescues and enable engine companies access to the inside of homes and buildings, using forcible entry and ventilation techniques/tactics. Without the combined, orchestrated, efforts of both truck and engine companies on scene, entry into a building to do an immediate rescue of occupants combined with the quick confinement and/or extinguishment of a fire is likely, not going to happen. In other words, without a truck company on scene, even with having 3 engine companies and all the water in Lake Michigan, if the engine companies can't get in, they can't put the fire out and they can't get you out.
I used “Google Maps” to see how response times to my son and his family's home near KK and Holt would be affected by the closing of Truck 6. Using travel time by distance and no other factors, it would take Truck 6 approximately 3 minutes to travel the 1.6 miles. The next closest Truck Co. would be Truck 11 located at 9th and Greenfield. According to “Google Maps”, it would take 9 minutes to travel 3.6 miles. Truck 14 on 21st &.Oklahoma would be the next truck at 10 minutes. Keep in mind, these response times are in a “perfect world.” Any other unknown variable will add to a response time already too long. Consider, a flame introduced to a piece of furniture will grow from a few inches high, to a room fully involved in fire in less than 4 minutes. The National Institute of Standards and Technology demonstrates this with a video that can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqMVm72FMRk or you can go to www.youtube.com. and type in “Room Flashover Videos.mpg.” at the search box. The first video shows a Christmas tree fire, but the second video shows how quickly a typical living room fire might grow. If you watch the video, you may notice about every 30 seconds the fire has doubled in size. One “rule of thumb” used in the fire service is, fire doubles in size every 30-60 seconds. There's arguments about the “rule”, but watch the video I've described and it probably won't get to many arguments here. So, using the “rule of thumb” stated, going from a 3 minute response time to a 9 or 10 minute response time becomes pretty significant.
The fire department is like an insurance policy. Hopefully we never need it, but we pay for it to insure we and/or our loved ones won't be devastated if a tragedy were to occur. Less than two weeks ago, December 9th, West Baltimore, MD, had a fire that killed one man and injured his daughter. The headline I found at WBALtv.com in Baltimore, MD reads, "Man Dies In Fire; City Budget Cuts Blamed." The story goes on to say;" BALTIMORE -- Baltimore city fire officials said a man died in an early-morning fire in the 3100 block of Presstman Street, and some fire officials are blaming budget cuts and fire station closures for the death." Go to, http:/www.wbaltv.com/news/21905172/detail.html for the full story.
You might be wondering who I am, what makes me an expert, and why do I care. I've been a member of the Milwaukee Fire Department for nearly 28 years, and have been an officer for 15 years. I've earned a degree in fire science and have been involved in nearly every facet of residential firefighting there is. I am presently assigned to Truck 6 as a fire lieutenant. I am a BayView High School graduate as are my two brothers and sister. My brother, his family, my sister, her family, my son, his family, another son, and my wife and I, are all presently residents of BayView. My interest in keeping Truck 6 open are my family, friends', and neighbors' safety. I believe closing a truck company for any period of time in BayView is playing “Russian Roulette” with our safety and possibly our lives. Please let your neighbors know about the closing and we can only hope the present administration of the Milwaukee Fire Department would reconsider the temporary closing of BayView's Truck 6 on December 27th, 2009.
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