MILWAUKEE — A man the Milwaukee Fire Department called “a true visionary in the fire service” has died. Daniel Lipski, who retired from the MFD in 1987, passed away Saturday evening from complications related to a stroke.
A visitation for Lipski was held on Thursday, March 8th at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church starting at 8:30 a.m. A funeral mass was held at 10 a.m. The procession to the cemetery was led by two fire department ladder trucks.
Lipski joined the Milwaukee Fire Department on March 16, 1944 following in the footsteps of his father, Henry Lipski in 1921, and uncles Sylvan & Ignatz Lipski in 1912.
Lipski’s first assignment was Engine 21. He served on Rescue Squad 1 from 1947 to 1951, returning later as a Relief Lieutenant. He credits his time on the Squad with forming his legendary mastery of Milwaukee’s city streets. There were only two Rescue Squads at the time and their response area included the entire city if the other Squad was on a run.
From 1960 to 1962, Lipski was assigned to the Fire Academy. In 1961, he was the assistant director for the startup of the Milwaukee Fire Department’s Dive Rescue Team, learning from and getting certified to instruct from a Navy diver.
As the Captain of Engine Company 20, Lipski continued looking for ways to maximize the department’s rescue capability. He politicked for and received the MFD’s first Engine Company apparatus with an onboard water tank, 200 gallons in all.
Lipski then spent the next 12 years in Battalion 6, running out of Engine Company 24’s quarters.
Daniel and his son, Neil, then working his way up from Firefighter to Motor Pump Operator and then Lieutenant, gained their certifications from the Mine Safety and Health Administration to instruct others in the grueling task of mine and tunnel rescue.
In his final two years on the department, Lipski led the Tunnel Rescue Team in numerous rescues, none so dramatic as the rescue of 10 tunnelers (and three firefighters who had attempted rescue prior to the Tunnel Rescue Team’s arrival) from a difficult fire in a compressed air tunnel, which is sealed up and pressurized to keep out groundwater and explosive gases.
Lipski retired proud in December of 1987, 43 years after he began his service with the Milwaukee Fire Department.