MFD Chief Mark Rohlfing speaks out on suspensions of five firefighters

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Milwaukee Fire Chief Mark Rohlfing is speaking out, after handing down suspensions against five firefighters accused of being involved in the vandalism of Milwaukee Fire Department's Engine 32, that occurred this past fall.

In this case, nine firefighters were immediately placed on suspension during an investigation.

Eventually, five firefighters were suspended, two probationary firefighters were fired, and two firefighters will keep their jobs as long as they complete a special program. Two other firefighters allegedly involved have retired.

The five suspended have been suspended for 30 work shifts, and will be on probation for a year following their return from suspension. Two of the five have been demoted.

Additionally, each much undergo mandatory training.

The five firefighters who were suspended on February 14th include:

    Nathan Fager and Joey Siegert are the probationary firefighters who were fired in this case. They presented a petition containing 1,253 signatures before Milwaukee’s Fire and Police Commission in an effort to get their jobs back — an effort that ultimately failed.

    David Krebsbach and Robert Rutley are the two that will keep their jobs. They were suspended for five days without pay but only had to serve two – as long as they completed a special program. One admitted to hanging up inappropriate signs, and the other to bringing pornography to the station.

    The complaints against the five firefighters suspended in this case detail what the Fire and Police Commission says occurred inside Engine 32, located on North 30th Street in Milwaukee.

    The complaints indicate Engine House 32 was inspected by MFD staff on the morning of September 29th, due to concern that the firehouse may not have been left in good order — and may have been damaged by personnel that were permanently transferred from the Engine House to other work locations as of that date.

    The complaints say MFD Command Staff documented “extensive evidence of vandalism and disorder in the firehouse that morning.”

    "It's disheartening. It really is. I do think the punishments are very much appropriate. It gives us all a black eye when you`ve got 900 men and women who`ve given their lives to this career and they do a great job and we have a handful of angry individuals and a couple who literally retired the next day that you know drag us through this mud. When we see this, it does make us step back a little and say okay, what do you need to bring forward, what training do we need to do?" Rohlfing said.

    On Thursday, February 20th, the suspensions leveled against the five firefighters were read before the Fire and Police Commission.

    Rohlfing says he is planning department-wide training.

    "We are a professional organization and we`re gonna continue to move forward and we`re gonna continue to be better," Rohlfing said.

    The vandalism is outlined in the complaints as follows:

      The complaints against the five suspended firefighters detail the reasoning for their suspensions:

        Rohlfing says he has spoken with all five men suspended, and says they understand now the gravity of what they did.

        They each have the option of appealing their suspensions, but Rohlfing says he doesn't expect that to happen.

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