October 17, 2018 was a usual night for the fire fighters of the Waukesha Fire Department. At 12:17 a.m. an alarm rang out for a reported fire in an apartment. Dispatcher alerted all five of Waukesha’s strategically located fire stations. As dispatchers confirm this is a structure fire, the response requires all 25 fire fighters, 3 fire apparatus, 2 Ladder Trucks, 5 ambulances, and a Battalion Chief to this alarm.
The location of this fire is in fire station 1 first due response area. The building is a two-story, 16-unit apartment building at 405 N. East Avenue. Engine 1 and Battalion 10 arrived on location and found a building with thick smoke through out and 13 tenants who needed to be rescued.
Battalion Chief Haakenson is the assigned chief on Battalion 10 and assumed command at this incident. Battalion 10 assigned Engine 4 and Ladder 2 to address the immediate rescue concerns. Engine 1 received the assignment to attack the fire. Ladder 5 received the assignment for search and rescue of the first floor of this building. Engine 1 crew extended a hose line, made it to the apartment of origin, and extinguished the fire. At this moment they found another victim in the apartment. Firefighters from Ladder 5, Kimple and Wojtowicz, were near by and immediately entered the apartment to assist with the rescue. This rescue is not an ordinary rescue due to the challenging physical size, condition, and injuries the victim sustained. Fire fighter Kimple and Wojtowicz, without concern, immediately and aggressively removed the victim from the building. Once out side of the building, Fire Fighter Kimple and Wojtowicz continued life saving care for the victim until the victim is moved to an ambulance and ultimately transported a hospital.
The victim sustained burn injuries to approximately 40 percent of the body and would most have perished that night in the fire if were not for the aggressive actions of all the fire fighters who responded and worked relentlessly that night. Battalion Chief Haakenson submitted several recommendations for commendations to the Chief for extraordinary actions that night. Chief Howard approved several Commendations for Life Saving, Incident stabilization, and Property Conservation that night in October 2018. The crews of Engine 1, Engine 4, Ladder 2, received their commendations at a department incident debriefing. Fire Fighters Kimple and Wojtowicz. were formally recognized and presented their commendation during the City of Waukesha Common Council meeting on December 4, 2018.