Plan underway to bring Whitewater fire department under city umbrella

Fire truck flashing lights

WHITEWATER, Wis. — Plans are underway to transform Whitewater’s volunteer fire department into an official city department, the city said Thursday.

In a news release, the city said discussions on the plan began at the end of last year. Members of Whitewater Fire Department, Inc. gave their blessing in January to move forward with creating an official relationship with the city.

Kristin Mickelson, the city’s communications manager, said currently a memorandum of understanding between the department and the city is in the process of being drafted. No firm dates have been established for when the process could officially begin.

While the fire department is not an official city agency, it responds to fire calls in Whitewater and surrounding townships, and its trucks are based out of a city building on Whitewater Street.

Mickelson said the plan would likely see firefighters becoming salaried city employees with benefits instead of volunteers. That move, she said, would help the department become more competitive with other agencies.

Concerns about staffing led to the initial discussions last year.

RELATED: Report: Fire, EMS departments nearing crisis in Wisconsin as 911 calls rise, staffing declines

Whitewater is not alone in facing staffing challenges; last month, the city of Milton and four surrounding townships announced plans to ask to join the Edgerton Fire Protection District primarily due to staffing and financial concerns.