Browse through our timeline pages to learn about the history of the MFFD.
Please note that terms "fireman" and "firemen" are used throughout these pages to be historically accurate. To be more inclusive and to better reflect today’s fire service, we transitioned to the use of the gender-neutral term “firefighter" many years ago.
- 1894 to 1929 - Starts with the first meeting of Menomonee Falls Volunteer Fire Company No. 1.
- 1930 to 1946 - The new Municipal Building that was our home for the next 85 years through the war years.
- 1947 to 1956 - The post-war years through the last of the Town of Menomonee/Village of Menomonee Falls years.
- 1957 to 1971 - 1957 was a transitional year for the Village of Menomonee Falls and the MFFD.
- 1972 to 1998 - The era of the first full-time Fire Chief.
- 1999 to 2008 -
- 2009 to 2019 -
- 2020 to Present -
Learn about specific historical eras using the tabs below:
The Menomonee Falls Fire Department has had 25 Chiefs throughout its history, with the last five being full-time. As you will notice, some served more than once, as this used to be an elected position.
- 1894 to 1895 John Huebner
- 1895 to 1897 Frank E. Bast
- 1898 to 1901 John Huebner
- 1904 to 1905 F. Koehler
- 1905 to 1912 Joel Hoos
- 1912 to 1912 Charles Horn
- 1912 to 1913 Joel Hoos
- 1913 to 1914 Al Mittelstaedt
- 1914 to 1917 Joel Hoos
- 1917 to 1920 Fred Thomas
- 1920 to 1922 Charles Schlafer
- 1922 to 1923 William Riesch
- 1923 to 1925 Dr. A.M. Haushalter
- 1925 to 1928 Adelard Girouard
- 1928 to 1932 Elmer Bast
- 1933 to 1954 Arnold Droese
- 1954 to 1954 Robert Johnston
- 1954 to 1962 Joseph Riehle
- 1963 to 1969 Alfred Arnold
- 1970 to 1971 Robert Maas
- 1972 to 1998 John Fulcher
- 1998 to 2009 Robert Coon
- 2009 to 2013 Jeffrey S Hevey
- 2014 to 2019 James Mollet
- 2020 to present Gerard Washington
The Evolution of equipment
At the inception of the Company in 1894, a Number 4 Combined Chemical and Water Engine manufactured by Howe Truck and Engine was purchased, followed by a hose wagon and a Hook and Ladder truck, and a two-cylinder hand pumper. The hand pump proved to be inadequate, since everyone wanted to see the fire and no one wanted to pump. $1,200 was appropriated for a new motor driven pump with a hand pump connection in 1906. Also, the old hose wagon was discarded and a new hose reel was purchased.
In the fall of 1922, a new truck was ordered from the REO Motor Car Company. The 1923 REO was equipped with ladders and carried milk cans to haul water to the fire scene
1925 Seagrave 750gpm Pumper - Sealed proposals were taken in 1925 for a 750 gallon per minute pumper, complete with hose body. The new Seagrave was delivered to the local railroad depot by end-loading boxcar.
The new pumper was the pride of the Village and was later shown off at the head of the Menomonee Falls Firemen's parade. To assure the citizens and businesses of a proper firefighting responses at all times, a rule was enacted that prohibited it from leaving the Village.
The 1925 Seagrave 750gpm pumper on the Third Street (now Roosevelt Dr.) bridge drafting from the Menomonee River.
Here's a photo of the 1926 addition to the fire department fleet parked in front of the local Chevrolet dealership.
1930 Seagrave 500gpm Pumper- The Company voted to purchase a new Seagrave Fire Apparatus in 1930. This Seagrave was restored in 1976 and is still used in some of our parades and other events.
Now with two Seagrave engines, firefighters referred to them as the Big Seagrave (1925) and Little Seagrave (1930).
The membership voted to sell the Ford pumper they had and keep the Chevrolet Chemical truck, but that was soon sold to Stone Bank for $800 in 1931.
In 1949, a new fire engine, an International, was delivered to supplement the two Seagrave pumpers. The International was equipped with a 600 gallon per minute front mounted pump and a 1,000 gallon water tank. The Reo was finally retired and sold to the American Legion for $25 in 1950 and the little Seagrave engine was rebuilt for $1,312.
A 1954 GMC with a front-mount pump, and a 1955 Metro van were added to the fleet. Here's the entire Menomonee Falls Fire Department-Company #1 fleet in front of the high school in 1956.
The department had a 1966 Central Engine and by 1966 a contract was awarded to the Pirsch Company in Kenosha Wisconsin for an 85-foot aerial ladder for the sum of $57,266.
Pirsch engines were added in 1968 and 1972. A second Pirsch aerial ladder, a 65-foot rear-mount was added in 1974,
A Ford Heavy Rescue was purchased and was paid for in part with Federal Civil Defense funds.
Up to this point, it was still common for firefighters to ride in open areas of the apparatus, not secured with a seat belt, or on the rear tailboard where they rode in a standing position, "secured" by a strap. The Pirsch engines had interior seating for 3 on a bench seat, 2 rear-facing open jump seats, and room for 3 firefighters on the tailboard.
The Department also owned 2 smaller Ford engines with a similar open seating arrangement.
The MFFD had 2 Mack-Marion tankers with open jump seats, one of which was later converted into a heavy rescue unit.
Tailboard riding officially died with the 1992 version of NFPA standard 1901 which said all firefighters must be seated and belted when a truck is in motion. This brought about a new era of fire apparatus design.
Chief Fulcher worked with the Marion Body Works Company to obtain our first fully engine with a fully enclosed crew compartment. The 1986 Mack-Marion engine had front seats for the driver and officer and enclosed rear-facing seating for three firefighters. All positions were equipped with seat belts. Marion Body Works displayed the new MFFD engine at the FDIC Convention in Indianapolis. The MFFD purchased several additional Mack-Marion vehicles.
The Current Era
Please visit our Apparatus page to learn about the equipment currently in use!
Emergency Medical Services History
During the 1800s, citizens such as the village doctor and funeral homeowner handled emergency medical services. The first vehicle used was a Ford Model T in 1919, followed by a 1926 Studebaker Big Six which was used as a combination ambulance and pallbearer's car.
Next to come was the Cadillac 7 passenger limo which was converted to an ambulance by the removal of the center post.
Although members of the Department first received training in First Aid in 1936, the Department had a long history of providing rescue services with responses to cave-ins, drownings, and farming accidents. As far back as 1928 they had received training in the "Prone Method of Resuscitation".
A formal Rescue Squad was formed in 1943 and in 1944 the Department purchase its first resuscitator to treat victims of drowning, smoke inhalation, and suffocation.
The first rescue squad vehicle was donated to the by the Lions Club in 1956.
From 1958-1965 the station wagon was used. Finding it no longer feasible to operate an ambulance service, the funeral home owner gave the station wagon and service to the fire department in 1965. At the time he gave up the service, an ambulance fee of $15 was charged for non-emergency runs and an extra $3 for an emergency run. The service had over 40% non-collectible accounts. The fire department had the station wagon for less than a week, when it decided it took too much manpower, so they shifted the service to John Ward, who had been a private provider with the village.
The ambulance in service at this time was similar to the one in this City of Oak Creek Fire Department photo.
In 1966, another community partner, the Kiwanis Club, donated a new rescue vehicle and members received CPR training.
The fire department did not become involved in the ambulance business until 1977, when the Federal Highway Safety Act placed new requirements upon emergency response units, which was hard for the private contractors to meet. From then on the fire department would respond to both rescue and ambulance calls.
Here's a 1977 memo from Police Chief Charles Kuhn announcing the new MFFD ambulance service.
The MFFD had some members who were among the earliest Emergency Medical Technicians in the State.
The four MFFD members pictured here are among that group. They are holding a trophy from a tech school EMT skills competition.
Pictured from L-R are: Kenneth "Kenny" Bilgo, Gordon "Gordy" Esser, Charles "Charlie" Keller and Francis "Pete" McDonald.
The Department's EMT-Basics participated in a State pilot program in the use of EKG's in the field using Physio-Control Lifepack 5 Monitor/Defibrillators with cassette tape recorders. Prior to this study, this skill was only performed by EMT-Paramedics.
The level of training has continued to rise through the years. Since 2002, the Menomonee Falls Fire Department's EMS program has been providing EMT-Basic, including three advanced skills, administering Glucagon, Albuterol and Aspirin. Also in 2002, the department upgraded its EMS program to the advanced level of EMT-IV Technician. At this level, EMTs are licensed to start IVs in the field in addition to administering new medications such as Narcan, Dextrose, Atrovent, and Nitroglycerin.
In 2016, MFFD began providing paramedic service, responding from Station 3. Paramedic skills include monitoring and treating cardiac rhythm disturbances, pain relief and providing a secure airway via endotracheal intubation.
Current staffing allows us to respond from three stations with a paramedic-staffed ambulance. Many of our paramedics have advanced standing with the endorsement of Critical Care Transport Paramedic.
Our most recent addition to EMS is the Mobile Integrated Health Group.
1919-High School Fire
- The Menomonee Falls High School burned to the ground on June 27, 1919. Flames spread so rapidly that it became a mass of ruins within an hour after the alarm.
It is believed to have started from burning materials in the incinerator, igniting the wood shingle roof of the main structure.With little or no water to fight the fire, firemen and residents could do little but watch it burn.In an effort to save contents and records, a young man, Elwood Burkhardt, was severely burned. His rescue was fast, he even walked to first aid, but 36 hours later he died.
This school was located on Main Street in what is now an the open area behind North Middle School.
1924-Baer Block Building Fire
On September 19, 1924, the Baer Block Building at the four corners was destroyed by fire. The Police Chief and two firefighters were injured. This was located at the site currently occupied by Centennial Plaza.
On June 5, 1940, a fire caused by defective wiring destroyed the theater on Appleton Avenue. This photo appears to have been taken from the roof of the Municipal Building.
1946 Held's Cafe and Bowling Alley Explosion
On July 26, 1946, a terrific blast caused the most disastrous havoc in the history of the village and many escaped death or injury. A terrific gas explosion, heard for miles, shook the entire village and completely destroyed Held's Café and Bowling Alley. Glass was shattered from windows on many nearby businesses, and Caesar's Plumbing and Heating, next door, was blown from its foundation and totally destroyed.
1956-Bert Phillips Ballroom Fire
- The night of September 29, 1956 brought a group of 1,000 polka dancers to a halt as the Bert Phillips Ballroom known today as the Schwabenhof burned. Lighting the sky for miles and sending flames 100 feet into the air, this fire required the help of the Butler and Lineny fire departments to bring under control.
1967 Fatal House Fire
- A fatal fire on December 14, 1967 claimed the life of seven-year-old Polly Reed and hospitalized two of the girl's ten siblings.
1969-Falls Cleaners Fire
A pre-dawn fire on January 17, 1969 destroyed the Falls Cleaners. The fire caused an estimated loss of over $150,000, and started in the attic and burned for some time before reaching the ground floor.
1979-Holiday Cup Fire
On Sunday August 26, 1979, a wax heating device was responsible for starting a fire that destroyed a portion of Holiday Cup located on Nor-X Way. Units arriving shortly after 10:02 p.m. were greeted with heavy fire that took five departments to handle. The fire was contained to the warehouse and part of the production area thanks to firewalls. At the height of the fire, between 5,000 and 6,000 gallons per minute were being dumped on the blaze.
1983-Westbrook Lanes Fire
A spectacular fire destroyed the Westbrook Lanes on March 14, 1983, causing in excess of $1 million in losses, the highest dollar amount in village history. Sixty-five firefighters from three departments battled the blaze. Arson was determined to be the cause, as the fire was started in several locations throughout the building. No one was injured. Five engines and three aerial ladders were deployed, 700,000 gallons of water were used, and over 5,650 feet of hose laid.
1991-Honey Bucket Fire
Improper maintenance and installation of ductwork were the causes of a grease fire at the Honey Bucket, a popular tavern and social club on February 2, 1991. The building was built in 1892 and was full of antiques and historic photographs.
1993-Memories on Main Fire
On February 1993, an arson fire at Memories on Main floral shop gave the firefighters quite a bit of excitement when a backdraft blew out the upstairs door and windows. This historical building was burned too badly to restore but luckily their were no casualties.
2003- Fatal House Fire
During the early morning hours of February 3, 2003, a fire tragically claimed the life of an elderly woman on Shady Lane. The fire started in a bedroom where the victim was found and was caused by an overloaded extension cord running under a rug.
The sky was lit up on the night of April 2, 2003, when the Waste Management Landfill off Highway Q received a "hot load" which later started a large fire on the top of the landfill. It took personnel and equipment from all four stations and tankers from Germantown, Lannon, and Lisbon to control the four-hour blaze. Over 75,000 gallons of water were used, half of which was trucked in by tankers.
- July 6, 2009, at 0732 hours, Truck 2773 was dispatched to Cudahy on the 5th Alarm for a large industrial fire at the Patrick Cudahy meat packing company. Truck 2773 was positioned on the west side of the building pumping their ladder pipe until 5:30 p.m, 1,000 gallons per minute for 8.5 hours. Later in the morning the Rehab Trailer and Chief Hevey was requested to the scene on a special call. This fire burned for three days and became the largest industrial fire in State of Wisconsin history.
- On the frigid morning of December 27, 2009, a police officer on patrol reported a home at W209 N5490 Goetz Court well involved in fire. Dispatch informed crews while en route that the large single family dwelling was well involved in fire. Box 27-7-1T was transmitted to the first box alarm level. Units from Menomonee Falls, Lannon, Sussex and Germantown responded. Temperatures were in the single digits. Due to low water pressure in the fire hydrants servicing this area, an upgrade to 2nd box level for tenders was made. It took crews almost two hours to contain and control this fire. The house started to collapse from the fire shortly after first units arrived on scene. Crews used the ladder pipe on Truck 2772 and a deluge gun from Lannon to attack the fire. Multiple hand lines were also utilized.
- On June 4, 2013, at 3:33 p.m, a neighbor reported a house fire at W217 N5514 Taylors Woods Drive. Arriving units on the scene reported smoke and fire showing from the basement window of a two-story, single family dwelling. Crews were notified shortly after arrival that a person may still be in the home. The fire was brought under control at 4:15 p.m. Unfortunately, the fire claimed the life of a young male in his early 20s.
- The hustle of the noon rush hour on October 5, 2012, was disrupted by a large plum of heavy, black smoke coming from the Shady Lane Nursery at W172 N7388 Shady Lane. The fire quickly involved a work building and partially extended to four other buildings. Due to the location of the fire, a quick attack using the ladder pipe on Truck 2772 helped contain the fire. Most of the buildings were loaded with Christmas flowers being nurtured for the upcoming season. The fire quickly escalated to a 3rd MABAS Box Alarm due to the lack of fire hydrants at the the south end of Shady Lane. Crews from Menomonee Falls and surrounding communities had the fire under control at 12:53 p.m. The fire was confined to the center of the building. Fire crews assisted in relocating the flowers in an effort to preserve them for the Christmas Holiday.
- On December 4, 2012, at 3:38 p.m, heavy smoke was discovered coming from a Horse Barn located at W220 N9110 town Line Road. While responding to the call, dispatch reported multiple calls of a fully involved barn. The incident was upgraded to a Box Alarm 2nd level. Units from Lannon arrived first on the scene and found a "L" shaped barn 70 foot by 200 foot well involved. Command requested MABAS Box 27-12 to be upgraded to the 3rd Box Alarm level. Twelve water tenders and three engine companies provided a 2,000 gallon per minute attack for one hour. All the horses were removed safely from the barn by workers prior to the fire departments arrival.
- January 30, 2013 at 9:Noon, the Rehab Trailer responded with a "Strike Team" of Tenders from MABAS Division 106 (Waukesha County) to Burlington (MABAS Division 102) for a large industrial fire at Echo Foods. The strike team stayed on scene for five hours. On January 31st, at 8:30 a.m, Squad 2776 responded with a MABAS Division 106 Task Force to Burlington. A.C. Burgess (Chief 2702) also responded. This fire consumed a 70,000 square fppt industrial building. Temperatures hovered near zero during this fire. 90 fire departments responded to this incident over a sixteen hour period to replace firefighters and fire apparatus. This fire resulted in the largest MABAS responses in the history of the Wisconsin MABAS program.
12/08/2013 Hwy 41/45 200+ Vehicle Accident
December 8, 2013 at approximately 11:23am the Menomonee Falls Communications Center received a 911 call regarding a single vehicle crash on southbound HWY 41/45 and 124th Street in which the driver reported losing control and striking the median wall. The initial responding units were reporting numerous multiple vehicle accidents. There were numerous crashes stretching the entire length of the southbound lanes of the highway. There were two major collisions that required multiple Fire/Police resources.
These crash scenes essentially shut down traffic flow creating several secondary crashes and hazardous conditions for responding fire/police units. At least 200 vehicles involved.160 total vehicles documented in 30 crash reports. This did not include self reports. 91 no-preference tows. This did not include customer request tows. 54 injuries, 25 people injured/transported. Two fatalities
Fire units were on-scene from 11:23am until 4:39PM. The first responder reports along with the numerous 911 calls were quickly consuming resources on and off the road.There were a total of (49) 911 calls within the first 60 minutes of the incident. Calls were received from cell transfers from Milwaukee County, Waukesha County, Washington County, Germantown as well as direct calls from On-Star. (2) Telecommunicators working. Heavy snow fall with limited visibility and hazardous travel. Several crash sites with multiple patients being reported in a short amount of time. Access to the crashes/patients limited to on ramps initially. Multiple regionally crashes already tapping fire/police resources (Milwaukee County, Washington County, Ozaukee County
2021-Tamarak Swamp Fire
On the afternoon of April 2, 2021 at approximately 1:40 p.m., Waukesha County Communications Center received multiple 911 calls reporting several large grass fires along the railroad tracks in the area between Pilgrim and Lannon Roads in the Village of Menomonee Falls. Emergency personnel from all over southeast WI worked tirelessly for over nine hours to bring the fires under control and prevent further spread. There was no property loss or injuries (to civilians nor emergency personnel).
Many citizens have served The Menomonee Falls Fire Department since it was incorporated on June 19, 1894. Our Honor Roll lists those who have accumulated fifteen or more years of service.