“Only so much money:” 2018 budget plan may close fire stations, add response times across Milwaukee

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MILWAUKEE -- Cuts to public safety are raising eyebrows, especially within the Milwaukee Fire Department. The department will end up closing six of its fire stations across the city. The impact to you may be a slower response time in emergencies.

"I don't want them to do it. I don't want them to close it down," said Regina King, lives by fire station.

There's some comfort for Regina King and her family, knowing there's a Milwaukee fire station right across the street at 8th and Hayes in case there's an emergency.

Milwaukee fire station

"I feel sad that they are not going to be here anymore," said Justin King, lives by fire station.

They say that security will soon be taken away because of proposed 2018 budget cuts. On the chopping block are six fire stations across the city slated for closure.

Mark Rohlfing

"At some point in time, there's only so much money," said Milwaukee Fire Chief Mark Rohlfing.

Chief Mark Rohlfing would have liked to have seen more money allocated to his department. Union representatives say this is the 14th consecutive year of cuts. While no firefighters will end up being laid off, there will be something added.

"We're finding that it might add five to 25 seconds to our response times," said Rohlfing.

Rohlfing says even with that, response times will still fall below the national average. On average among the 94,000 calls per year the MFD responds to, the first engine typically arrives in under three minutes.

"We really want to provide the best response times we can with the resources the budget provides us," said Rohlfing.

There's also history at stake. Alderman Nik Kovac says the fire house at Franklin and Brady has been in operation since the 1870s. He says the closing of all six stations would save about $10 million per year. He's urging residents to speak up if they're worried about being burned by this budget.

Wednesday, October 11th at UWM, the alderman will have a community meeting to discuss the cuts. The budget is still not official yet, just a proposal. The Milwaukee Common Council still has a chance to amend it.