Milwaukee Fire Department (Wauwatosa, Oregon, Fox Point: real estate, foreclosed, condos)
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Not to throw fuel on a fire (no pun intended), but does Milwaukee need more firefighters? The population of the city is declining. How many major fires actually occur in the nicer parts of Milwaukee per year? I used to work near the downtown main station and noticed how rarely trucks leave the station, that is, unless they pick up during the middle of the night. What they should do is close fire stations on the south side where fire is a rarity, and move them to the north side, where there is a house fire every week. There are enough fire stations to cover if there is a fire. There's too much downtime between calls to justify an increase.
Firefighter is a job that thousands want to apply for because they know it can be an easy job a lot of the time. Who wouldn't want to get paid to sleep? The opposite occurs for police officer (constant openings), because that is a job that presents much greater risk. I am a proponent of cuts to the fire department and an increase in jobs to the police department, regardless of the unions scare tactics (ie your house will burn down if we dont have x number of firemen per truck). Crime is a much much larger problem in Milwaukee than fires. First year salary for fireman may be $34k, but take a look at what the veterans are making, in some cases over $100k per year. Is that a realistic salary for a fireman with an associates degree? Could you train someone to do that job at half the salary? That's the problem with unions. Either take the job cuts, or cut the pay of lieutenants, captains, and chiefs. The only way I would agree with an increase to the fire department is if firemen responded to non-emergency police calls. MFD has a huge monthly payroll, spends 2/3 of what MPD spends but employs 1/2 the numbers MPD has. MFD needs to cut some serious fat. See the data at: http://www.city-data.com/city/Milwaukee-Wisconsin.html
Last edited by MidwestAir; 01-19-2009 at 02:12 PM..
A lot of your opinions are based on things that you know nothing about. First, Milwaukee isn't ADDING any firefighters. They are trying to fill vacancies for when people retire. Even with all of the cuts, MFD is down about 100 firefighters right now.
You think they are overstaffed? The mayor recently tried to cut one position off of every ladder truck(perform search and rescue, ventilation, etc) in the city. The board eventually overrode the mayor. One argument came up about a fire this past year. Luckily one of the truck companies with five people responded to this fire. One guy stays and operates the truck while four went in for a search. They saved four lives that day. If that happened after the cuts, someone would have died. MFD has actually has plenty of national press lately about some of the saves that they have been making.
Being paid to sleep all night? haha It's rare they they EVER make it through a full night of sleep. Some firefighters I know say its been years since they can remember that ever happening. I'm a firefighter in Milwaukee County, not the city, but I know quite a few MFD guys. They don't only go to fires either. They go to every type of emergency tha can happen. There have been nights where I didn't get one minute of sleep. Then they dont' sit around the station during the day like people think. It's usually a 9-5 job. There are inspections, training, house duties, equipment maintainance, public education, etc.
When you get 15-20 calls in a day, I think it's worth the $34k/year. The top paid firefighters DO NOT make $100k. Only those with a good second job do. Top out pay is at about $55-60k. Maybe the fire cheif can make that much, but there is only one position for that. He is more of a politician than anything.
The paramedics from the private ambulances don't do much. They aren't allowed to in Milwaukee County so they need the MFD paramedics which there really aren't many of. Private ambulances can also take a very long time to arrive on scene since they don't have stations all over the city.
How is being a cop more dangerous than being a firefighter? When was the last time you heard about an injured police officer other than the one that recently crashed his car? Sure they can get shot during a traffic stop, but thats a rarity. Almost every fire has some minor type of injury. Last year during a week of cuts, five firefighters were injured. A couple months ago three more were. My very first fire I had a pipe fall on me. Injuries happen all of the time.
What you should be fighting against is actually hiring quality firefighters, not minorities and women because of their skin color. Milwaukee just ran a test for the first time in over four years. They wanted to hire 50 people in March to help fill their 100 vacancies. 5600 people applied. 4000 people passed the written test. I would love to work for Milwaukee since they are considered one of the better fire departments in the nation. I finished ranked 48 of 4000. The top 350 got to take the physical ability test. I was one of 47 that passed. That is pretty sad. My interview in November was cancelled because not enough minorities or women passed. Now 1750 people get interviews. Then those that live in teh city get extra points. THEN they get a chance to pass teh physical test again. Then you money goes to pay for them in the fire academy when 25% will fail out because they were pushed through the process by the city.
So make sure you know your facts first. There's a saying that no one appreciates the firefighters until they need them. Now that 9/11 is in the past, not many care anymore.
My interview in November was cancelled because not enough minorities or women passed.
You were one of 47/350 that passed the physical exam? Good for you; that's pathetic that out of thousands of applicants, 350 qualified for the physical exam.
I fear that you may need to move to a better place, to find a position that fits you. But I digress.
I don't care what anyone says. PD and FD jobs need to pay right, need to hire the right people, and need to watch out for the population. I'm all about cutting ridiculous government fat, but doing it at the expense of public safety is not the way. That goes for police and/or fire.
One other thought: You get what you pay for. I read an article that the City of Atlanta's police force has a 1-in-3 criminal record rate. Meaning, one of every 3 officers or officer recruits, has a criminal record. Sorry, but this is pathetic and is a direct result of "getting what you pay for". Hire college grads with no criminal record and you'll get more bang for the buck.
Taxes suck and salaries are expensive, but there are places to make cuts, and places NOT to make cuts. Cutting PD and FD jobs are NOT the place. We've seen what happens when the PD doesn't scale to meet the challenge; let's not do it again, and let's not do it with the MFD.
The day will come when some moron suggests that firefighters become "privatized". I dread that day; it's almost being done in the consolidated departments at this time (i.e. North Shore). One day long ago, the fire department was right down the street and responded within seconds, not minutes. Today, they're miles away, after you convince someone at a consolidated 911 dispatch center, that you actually have an immediate need.
Tomorrow? The FD may show up to save the basement, if that. The MPD doesn't show up for hours--sometimes days--unless someone died. Asking the MFD to go that route also, would be suicide.
Last edited by 43north87west; 01-21-2009 at 09:38 PM..
Ok, well, I happen to know that they actually opened up the oral boards to a LOT more people then who were qualified. Yes, I know this for a fact. So if you didn't make it to the physical, that means you didn't get a high enough written score to qualify for it, considering how many people took the written exam.
There wasn't an actual score to make the physical test. They just took the top 350 from the written. 4000 actually passed the written.(not sure what passing was) With 5600 people applying though, passing isn't, and shouldn't be, good enough. I've worked my ass off and know how to take the exams. Some parts were psychological and many don't know how to take it. I spent time and money learning what needs to be done. I graduated with my degree in Fire Protection.
So really it's not just 350 that qualified for the physical test. It just wouldn't have made sense to waste the time and money of having 4000 people take it when they wanted to hire 50. Even though now, my high rank of 48 doesn't mean much. With that many people failing the physical test, I probably moved up to the top 20, but the interview is 65% of the final score. I'm not sure how interviews will go though when they are doing 1750 people in one week.
That's out of over 1000 employees. Veteran firefighters do not make that much. Those are all Chiefs. They aren't even considered firefighters. They have all been on the department for years. If there is a company anywhere of over 1000 employees, I don't think that it's too crazy that 30 of them that run the whole thing are making $100k.
Also, as far as straight salary I only see about six. The rest made that after overtime and supplemental pay.
$100,000 is absurd, and what are they doing to get overtime if they don't actually put out fires any longer? Are they developing radical new ways to extinguish fires? 166 making $80,000 or more is absurd, and I can't see how many make $70,000 or more because the search limit is 250! What private sector jobs make that with an associates degree? Who signs off on these salaries? These aren't the days of Mrs. O'Leary's cow kicking over the oil lantern any longer. We have complex sprinkler systems, efficient firefighting (with engines instead of horses), and smoke detectors. If one house goes up in flames, there aren't going to be five others simultaneously, stretching the limit of how many can respond. Milwaukee isn't going to burn down if they cut one guy from a truck. These are the days of huge budget deficiencies. These guys are ripping off taxpayers with their inflated salaries and the rest of the city is hurting because of it. A chief should make $75,000. Firemen should max out at $55,000 when they are about to retire to their pensions in Florida at 48 years old. There is no reason why we should have a cut in neighborhood services and roads that look like they were built at the time of the Pestigo fire when MFD is dishing it out like it grows on trees.
You didn't read my posts did you? There are plenty of documented times of people being saved because of that extra person. Tell the families that lose someone that the pot hole in the road was more important than their lives. Last time that a large cut on staffing was made, there were five serious injuries to firefighters within one week. Sprinkler systems are not in residential buildings. Maybe a few newer ones, but most house fires are in buildings without smoke detectors, much less sprinklers. When your house burns down and the nearest engine company doesn't respond because it was just cut, and someone dies, I'm sure you will change your mind.
Those people making the extra money don't have an Associate Degree. They have at least 4 years of college. Many have their master's degree. They make the extra money because they are pretty much business people. Others in business make that much too. They have senior officer jobs dealing with budget, department structure, etc. The others on the job are constantly taking classes and going to school. They train daily. Firefighters attend more school than most people ever do in their life.
Firefighters don't just put out fire. They respond to everything that people call 911 for. During the day, they have a 9-5 job like everyone else. Stations can be falling apart and they have to make the repairs themselves. Equipment has to be maintained, fire inspections around the city need to be done, firefighters need to train for all of the new threats, they have to go to schools and other public events, and the list goes on. MOST of the firefighters do not make much until much later in their career.
You really don't seem to have much knowledge about the fire service. You are simply throwing around figures that you see online. You are really the only one on here thinking that. To insult those of us that are risking our lives for crap pay in the most expensive city in the state(this is one of the lowest paid depts in the state) is pretty rude.
Look, I don't want to get into an emotional argument with the "Tell me that when your house is burning." I don't think you're reading my posts, there were 166 individuals that made over $80,000 in 2007. One hundred and sixty six! Many many more who made over $70,000. So there are about 500 people on payroll that make at least double what a new hire does. There could be more new hires, but greed is preventing that.
If the guys who do the actual work are paid meager wages, who are these people getting the big bucks? I think $35000 is too low for a fireman. But don't beg to the bankrupt city to raise your wages, go tell your union that you want the bigshots to take a cut so the new hires can live comfortably. The union is the true reason you don't have the number of guys per truck you request. The department needs to take some accountability and stop blaming the city for its financial deficiencies.
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