Menomonee Falls, WI (CBS 58) – Staffing and equipment issues have plagued the Menomonee Falls Fire Department over the last year and a half. And now the village’s fire union blamed a new financial restriction for causing more of the same problems.
Fire station five was closed from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on March 6th. One firefighter called in sick and the village shifted the other firefighter to fire station 3. The union said the village did so to save on overtime.
“We owe it to the citizens of this village to let them know what they’re getting and what they’re not getting,” said Professional Firefighters of Menomonee Falls President Kevin Myers.
“Prior to March 1st we would have used overtime, most likely mandatory overtime and called someone in to work,” said Myers.
He told CBS 58 the village has relied on overtime for years to staff the fire department. City budget records reviewed by CBS 58 show more than $100,000 in overtime spending each year for several years. CBS 58 calculations show the 2020 overtime budget for EMS and fire increased by 70 percent, although the increase may be bringing the budget in line with reality.
“This is no scare tactic, the station’s closed and that has its own connotation with it,” said Myers.
Village President Dave Glasgow disputed that. He couldn’t appear on camera Friday, but he texted CBS 58 answers to our questions.
“There is no crisis. Our fire department does temporarily close station and reshuffled resources as needed,” wrote Glasgow.
He acknowledged in his texts the village is enforcing its overtime budget, but he said that’s not the reason for Friday’s fire station closure.
“Station 5 is slow during the day, but Station 1 and 2 are close by and can cover,” wrote Glasgow.
That provided Myers with little comfort.
“When you have a fire station currently sitting closed, I know me, as a taxpayer, I’m concerned,” said Myers.
CBS 58 tried to learn just how much overtime the village has spent so far this budget cycle, but the village manager was out of the office Friday afternoon and city employees said they couldn’t give that public information to the press without his approval.