Funding & StaffingNews

Milwaukee fire chief leaves in the middle of heated budget battle. Douglas Holton to retire next month for college position.

Picture from Milwaukee Fire Department website. 

 Watch Chief Holton’s announcement

From the AP:

The Milwaukee fire chief will retire from the department next month.
Chief Douglas Holton says he plans to become the associate dean of Human and Protective Services at Madison Area Technical College.

He joined the department in 1978 and left in 2003 to become the first black chief in St. Paul, Minn. When he returned to Milwaukee in 2007, he became the city’s first black chief.

His retirement is effective Nov. 28. He starts his new job Dec. 1.

The college has one of the largest fire and police training programs in Wisconsin.
In a statement, Mayor Tom Barrett says Milwaukee’s loss is the Madison Area Technical College’s gain and he wishes Holton and his family the best.

From Larry Sandler at the Journal Sentinel:

Holton is departing in the middle of a heated controversy over firefighter staffing. For the fifth time in five years, the Milwaukee Professional Fire Fighters Association is battling a Barrett budget proposal to reduce crews, arguing that it would jeopardize safety.

This time, the mayor’s 2010 budget calls for slicing ladder truck crews from five firefighters to four in the last eight ladder companies that still have five-member crews; closing a ladder company and a pumper engine company; and slicing overtime to the point that one or two companies would be forced out of service every day.

But Barrett said the budget had nothing to do with the chief’s departure, noting that Holton would remain in office through the end of council action on the spending plan.

WISN-TV has this reaction from a union official and the mayor:

“What’s being left in the wake is a department that is decimated, a department that has been cut to the bone, and it has been done without the input of the front line firefighters,” said Bobbie Webber of Local 215.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett released a statement commending Holton for his years of service with the Milwaukee Fire Department.

“Chief Holton has made difficult decisions and implemented initiatives that have led to increased public safety and confidence in Milwaukee’s great fire department. His leadership through difficult budgets has been key to ensuring that our citizens continue to receive the country’s highest quality fire and emergency medical services at a reasonable cost.”

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