MFD reopens Fire Station 28 in Merrill Park neighborhood, shares services with Wauwatosa

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Milwaukee Fire Department has been in a battle to gain more resources for several years.

After some fire stations were closed to save city dollars, firefighters faced a heavier workload.

Now, the city and county are able to make a new step toward seeing some relief.

MFD reopened station 28 on Monday, located at 424 N. 30th St. on the city's near west side.

Station 28 originally opened in 1905. It was decommissioned in the winter of 2017 due to budget cuts.

The station remained closed for five years, only used for recruiting, until now.

Milwaukee city and county leaders gathered Monday morning to cut the red ribbon.

"The city could easily be classified as in crisis," Fire Chief Aaron Lipski said. "In this neighborhood, we've had numerous multi-building fires in the past few years."

In order to work out of the building, a Milwaukee engine will be moved, and a Wauwatosa fire engine will now operate out of station 35.

"This will provide them with the use of our fire station on 64th and Main, and they can head in and cover a huge swath of their southeastern-most response region," Chief Lipski explained.

The change is part of the Shared Services program, allowing Milwaukee County's fire departments to access each other when needed.

"At a time when state aid to municipalities hasn't changed in over a decade, our resilient communities continue to search for ways to share resources and maximize positive impacts to residents," said Milwaukee County Supervisor Peter Burgelis.

The operational move is expected to shorten response times in both Milwaukee and Wauwatosa.

"A minute means a life-or-death response," said State Representative Evan Goyke.

"It's reimagining how we can provide essential services and do that in the best way possible," said Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson.

Opening an additional station will also lighten the load for Milwaukee responders, something Chief Lipski believes is a necessity.

"Quite frankly, we have some very exhausted firefighters, so this is going to help pull that down just a little bit for some of our busier companies," Lipski said.

The recommissioning is currently a pilot program. The city and county will evaluate its effectiveness throughout 2023, heading into the next budget decisions.

While this is a win for his department, Chief Lipski told CBS 58 he hopes to see several more firehouses open in the future.

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