Brookfield, New Berlin fire departments move toward some mutual aid
Final proposal for deal between Brookfield and New Berlin is ready for review
The City of Brookfield Fire Department has found a way to expand services and improve response times without having to spend an extra dime.
As part of a long-discussed project, which wouldn't be implemented for several months, Fire Chief Charlie Myers presented the final proposal for mutual aid between Brookfield and New Berlin to the Common Council on Tuesday.
"We're always asking how can we do things better but at no cost?" Myers said.
The plan, which first must go before Brookfield's Public Safety Committee before the council will act on it, would allow the two fire departments to serve both communities.
Both have fire stations on Greenfield Avenue, which runs along the border that separates the communities. The New Berlin station, at Sunnyslope Road, can get to calls on the east side of both cities the quickest, and the Brookfield station, at Moorland Road, can get to calls on the west side with greater ease.
New Berlin would be the first to respond to areas east of 154th Street and South of Interstate 94. That area generates about 150 calls for service per year.
Brookfield would be the first responder to areas west of 164th Street and north of Lincoln Avenue. This area generates about 140 calls per year.
Both communities would still respond to calls, each sending an apparatus to a scene, which means the total number of responded calls will be about the same. The major difference would be that for calls in those areas, Brookfield would coordinate with New Berlin right away to get emergency teams headed to the scene or vice versa.
Once on scene, the host department would assume command of the situation.
As part of the agreement, resident ambulance rates would also be extended to New Berlin residents in cases in which Brookfield is the first to respond, and vice versa.
Myers said one of the main reasons this agreement couldn't have worked in the past is that the New Berlin fire station on Greenfield Avenue hasn't always had constant staffing. Now, there will be people there 24 hours a day, making the project feasible.
"This is about how do we get that emergency responder to the residents?" Myers said.
"Seventy percent of the calls we do are (emergency medical services), and some of them are a matter of life and death. So if we can make this happen and we can save a life, stop somebody's pain a little sooner, then I think we've succeeded."
Alderman Lisa Mellone, who represents the area, has been one of the plan's major proponents.
"At first glance, there was pause," she explained. "In the city of Brookfield, we have come to expect a certain level of service.
"There were a lot of questions and doubt that New Berlin could provide that level of service."
New Berlin has recently upgraded its staff training upgrades and made some changes to their staffing schedules. As a result, Mellone told the council and Myers at the meeting that she now feels comfortable moving forward.
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