Milwaukee firefighters return to Engine House 9

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee firefighters returned to their home quarters of Engine House 9 and Paramedic Unit 4 Tuesday, April 17th. The fire station has been empty since February 1st when an intense and unidentifiable odor filled the building, and affected the whole neighborhood.

The problem with the odor had been sporadic and hard to track. It worsened to the point that the building was deemed unsafe for habitation by the Milwaukee Fire Department (MFD). "We would come out to investigate and much like when you take your car to the auto mechanic and you can't replicate the noise, we would get here and the odor would be gone," MFD Batallion Chief Aaron Lipski said.

By February, fire officials reported the odor had gotten worse. "It started getting to be every day, and it got a lot worse. Actually, when we took more action is when we had an EMS run two blocks down and the same smell occurred there," MFD Captain Kenten Kais said.

Originally, officials thought the cause was an old landfill beneath the fire station, but tests didn't back that up. Then, officials looked down the road at Pure Blue Waters, a company that hauls dairy waste and shares a sanitation line with the fire station. The city asked the owner, Gene Fleisner to see what he could do. "We have an organic chemical absorbent that eats the odors up. We mix it with our loads. It takes about a quart for every 6,000 gallons, and takes all the odor away," Fleisner said.

Fleisner says his business has been in the area for two years, so he's not sure why it began smelling so bad just last summer. He says if odor additive made the difference, he's happy to do it.

The MFD worked closely with the Health Department, Department of Neighborhood Services, the City Sewer Services, the City Plumbers, the SIGMA Group, and Pure Blue Waters.