Fire departments are a big part of a community's identity. FOX6 News spoke with the new fire chief who said it does not matter what community they came from, they are here for a bigger purpose – to save lives.
David Bialk, Chief of the Southern Ozaukee Fire and EMS Department
Since July, the two fire departments have worked to consolidate equipment, personnel, and emergency vehicles.
The chief said by combining forces, the department gained 11 full-time fire and paramedic staff, plus 80 on-call volunteers.
When the Village of Thiensville board discussed the consolidation over the summer, people were worried their history would be lost.
Thiensville Fire Department
Despite the pushback, the village board approved the consolidation. As of the new year, the department is known by its new name, Southern Ozaukee Fire and EMS Department.
"This isn’t really a takeover, it’s a merger, we’re combining the two departments. We’re using the best of their people and the best of our people," Bialk said.
Mequon Fire Department
The president of the new fire department board, Van Mobley, did not go on camera, but sent FOX6 News an email that stated, "Both Thiensville and Mequon are well served by the new Southern Ozaukee Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department. Our unique identities are enhanced, not compromised, by the collaboration."
Fire Chief Bialk said the department has three main goals for 2023:
- Consolidate the fleet and equipment
- Hire three new full-time fire and paramedic staff members
- Rebrand everything to the new department name
Until the rebranding is complete, residents will see separate Thiensville and Mequon emergency vehicles.