MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Fire Department is one of the many agencies preparing for the 2024 Republican National Convention.
With it being about a year away, preparations are well underway.
The MFD repair shop is a busy place on any given day. Add in a national convention, and things have become busier.
The department has its own committee to prepare for the RNC. There are two battalion chiefs who are in charge of planning. Although it is a year away, details are already being sorted out.
“We are not only planning for the equipment, the tools, the apparatus, but we are also looking at personal needs through additional training academy classes and things of that nature,” MFD Deputy Chief Schuyler Belott said.
Belott said the department has been working to increase staffing to maintain proper levels. They have a goal of bringing on more recruits this year, ahead of the RNC.
His team at the repair shop has also been working to purchase new fire trucks to meet the needs of the convention and the fleet.
“We have an aging fleet, so with our spare apparatus, that average age of our fleet is about 20 years old,” Belott said.
There are around 200 vehicles within the department that all need to be ready to go, come next August. They have plans to purchase three new fire trucks.
While the lead times are longer than anticipated, Belott said they are working with manufactures to expedite the process.
Right now, the department is relying on federal funding and the city’s sales tax to pass to be able to properly budget for the event and day-to-day duties.
During the RNC, the fire department will be in charge of staging vehicles and responding to emergencies in and around the convention, all while taking care of the everyday needs of the city.
Battalion Chief Darin Peterburs is in charge of planning for the RNC for the department. He said right now, the budget is top priority.
“The biggest hurdle so far is planning, submitting a realistic proposal for the necessary resources without knowing what the dollar amount is that we have to work with,” Peterburs said.
The department has some experience planning for an event like this.
Although the Democratic National Convention was virtual while it was in Milwaukee, the fire department went through a similar planning process. They said this event next year will be much different.
“We understand some of the hurdles we are going to meet,” Peterburs said. “We also understand there are differences with what the DNC was, what it was supposed to be, and what the RNC is going to be.”
Although the city is a year away from the big event, the wheels are already in motion. Thankfully, as first responders, preparedness is something they specialize in.
“We are prepared for anything that could potentially happen,” Belott said.
The department said they have already met with secret service and will be collaborating with dozens of other agencies to ensure a safe and successful convention in Milwaukee.