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A day in a Milwaukee firehouse

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Photo: Video by tmj4.com

A day in a Milwaukee firehouse

By Stephanie Graham, Tom Murray. CREATED Sep 24, 2013 - UPDATED: Sep 24, 2013

MILWAUKEE - Milwaukee Fire's Engine 30, Truck 12 sits at the corner of Teutonia and Locust.  It's one of the busiest stations in the city.  They invited us inside to spend a day in the firehouse. 

7:30 a.m.  Shift change time.

Lt. Jordan Ponder explains, "Most people get to the firehouse about an hour early, so that way our gear and our apparatus is all checked and ready."

The necessities are some coffee, and a hearty breakfast. There's also a little joking around to get the day started.

8:00 a.m. But by this time, it's all business, as Captain Joe Hegeman tells the guys what's on tap for the day.

8:36 a.m. The guys don't have much time to relax before their first call, an auto fire.  Thanks to their speed and skill, the car fire is out within minutes.

9:50 a.m. Shortly after, it's time for a school fire drill, which includes a fire extinguisher inspection.

10:10 a.m. After that, it's off to a training exercise at a vacant house.

"We train on a regular basis. I mean, you can never know too much about a job that can kill you," Lt. Ponder says.

The new guys are practicing roof ventilation.  Firefighter in training Nick Fetzer says, "After plenty of times of practice it gets easier, but no, it's never real real easy.  It's always a challenge."

After a successful training session the veterans decide it's time to have a little fun with the rookies, with a water hose prank.

11:20 a.m. But things get serious again quickly, as the guys head out on an EMS call for a person with lung disease. Thanks to the firefighters, the patient is stabilized and transferred to the hospital. 

11:50 a.m. After a busy morning it's time for lunch.  All the guys pitch in to buy some sandwich supplies.

Then, firefighter Dave Czajkowski takes us on a quick tour of the firehouse, including the lounge, the dorm area, and the weight room.

Dave is an 8-year Milwaukee Fire Department veteran, and says being a firefighter is all trust.  "If I fall down, I know my brothers are behind me, and they're gonna help me."
 
He adds being in a firehouse really is like family.

"When we're not at work we all hang out together, we spend a lot of time you know, get the kids together, got to the Dells, all kinds of stuff," Dave explains.

Before we know it, it's already early afternoon, and our day in the firehouse is almost over.

Not before a few more runs, including a couple false alarms, and even a stop to pick up a fallen traffic light.

4:20 a.m. We end the day a little after 4 o'clock, checking back on a house that caught fire earlier that morning.  Luckily no one was hurt--thanks in part to the bravery of the men of Engine 30, Truck 12.

"It's just knowing no matter what it is we face, we're gonna fix it and get the job done," Dave says matter-of-factly.

So as we learned, a day at the firehouse may not be a thrill a minute, but when seconds count... they are there when we need them.