Milwaukee Firefighter Critically Burned at Fatal Fire

April 14, 2024
Milwaukee's fire chief said rapid intervention training paid off when the firefighter was cut off by fire during a rescue effort.

A citizen was killed and a Milwaukee firefighter was seriously burned in an early morning fire Sunday that damaged multiple homes.

"We were probably 30 seconds away from talking about planning a firefighter funeral today," Fire Chief Aaron Lipski told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The fire was reported at 2471 South 8th Street just before 5 a.m.

When firefighters arrived, they found heavy fire from the main home with fire extending to the adjacent structures. 

Crews were told that someone was still inside the attic and they entered the structure in vain to try and save them.

At 5:05 a.m. a mayday was called by a firefighter who was cut off by heavy fire conditions, and another firefighter who saw the situation unfold.

By 5:17 a.m., the firefighter was brought out the front attic window of the home by fire crews, officials said.

Lipski said the home, which he called a "Polish flat," had narrow and steep stairways, which challenged his crews. He added that the stairwell was cluttered.

The occupant was located shortly after and was pronounced deceased.

Lipski said the firefighter, who has three years on the department, was transported to Ascension Columbia St. Mary's Hospital where they sustained burns to 23 percent of their body, including third-degree burns. "He has a long road of recovery. His gear is completely destroyed."

"He's going to be pushing and prodding to get back to health and get back on the job, because he loved it so much," Mayor Cavalier Johnson said. "Because this work is service, it's public service."

The chief said firefighter rapid intervention training this his crews took part in at the Illinois Fire Service Institutre played a key role in the firefighter being rescued before it was too late.

Lipski added that the injured firefighter's father, a retired firefighter, was key to getting Milwaukee firefighters that training. 

He said the fire scene was only a block from former Fire Station 31, which was closed in 2018 due to budget cuts. The next closest company was five miles away.

The chief thanked Mayor Johnson, for helping the fire department begin to re-open stations and fire companies recently.

At the same time of this deadly firefighter, Milwaukee crews were at the scene of another house fire in which a firefighter suffered minor burns.


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Content curated and written by Firehouse editorial staff, including Susan Nicol, Steven Shaw, Peter Matthews, Ryan Baker and Rich Dzierwa.