Village of Bellevue Fire Department looks to staff station 24/7

BELLEVUE, Wis (WBAY) -- As the Village of Bellevue continues to grow, so does the need for 24-hour emergency response.

Village of Bellevue Fire Station 1. Village looking at staffing station 24/7.

“Right now, we've got 155 single family residential units that are coming in; and just across the street here, this has come up in the past two years,” Village Administrator Diane Wessel said.

Currently, Bellevue’s Fire Station 1 is staffed 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. On weekends its 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. resulting in slower response times after hours. Fire Station 2 is not staffed at all.

“When we're here, it's anywhere from 5-6 minutes would be a good average when you look at the area we cover. When we're not, you're looking at anywhere from 12-13 minutes, and that's a substantial difference,” said Fire Chief, Jack Mlnarik.

The department has nine full time firefighters and about 35 part time.

When there's no staff at the station, people respond from home.

“There's a time delay there when we're here we respond a lot quicker than when people have to come from home, get in a fire truck, and then respond to whatever that incident may be,” said Mlnarik.

The only person who is at the station 24/7 is one of the three battalion chiefs.

The battalion chief will respond first to a call, but are often left to wait for a ladder or engine truck.

“There isn't much they can do, the fire truck has all of our tools as well as all of the things that would help mitigate the type of incident that would occur,” said Mlnarik.

On average, the fire department responds to more than 800 calls a year.

As developments keep popping up, the number of calls are expected to increase too, meaning the time is now for the village to staff the station 24/7.

“We want to try to have an agreement decided upon and the associated budget numbers so they can incorporate it into the 2020 budget,” said Wessel.

There’s no plans to add any firefighter positions, but instead use its current employees for the transition.