Vandalism in Milwaukee firehouse linked to union vote

Notes defining the term "scab" were placed inside the firehouse after a union vote calling for members not to request a transfer to the station.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

MILWAUKEE, Wis. — Two notes defining the term “scab” were placed inside a vandalized Milwaukee firehouse two weeks after a union vote calling for members not to request a transfer to the station, according to documents released Tuesday.

The vote was in protest to the transfer of firefighters already assigned to the station, according to complaints against five firefighters in connection with the vandalism.

The notes were found inside Engine 32, 1551 N. 30th St., which fire officials say was vandalized during the Sept. 28 overnight shift — the last shift before members already assigned there were to be transferred, according to the complaints.

Fire officials believe the notes targeted newly assigned station members, especially those who asked for placement there, according to complaints.

The complaints against the five firefighters, among 11 accused in the incident, were released late Tuesday afternoon.

Milwaukee Professional Firefighters Local 215 President David Seager could not be reached Tuesday night to confirm the vote to withhold transfer requests to Engine 32 took place.

The five former Engine 32 members identified in the complaints are firefighter Ryan T. Trapp, heavy equipment operator Mark C. Pegelow, heavy equipment operator Justin C. Lemke, Lt. Timothy C. Kaye and Lt. Daniel C. Krause.

All five were suspended for 30 days. Krause was also demoted to the rank of firefighter and Lemke was demoted to an unspecified position, according to the complaints.

Two other firefighters, Robert J. Rutley and David R. Krebsbach, were suspended for five days without pay in January for violating department rules on general conduct.

Two probationary firefighters, Nathan Fager and Joseph Siegert, were fired for reasons unrelated to the internal investigation, fire officials said.

Two others assigned to Engine 32 retired before the investigation was completed.

The complaints specified for the first time the vandalism and other offenses the 11 firefighters were accused of either being involved in, not preventing or not reporting.

Among the actions detailed in the complaints:

  • A dead mouse was taped inside a locker with a note saying, “we know you are a rat.”
  • Cupcakes and potato chips were strategically placed to encourage mouse and cockroach infestation.
  • Feces was placed in floor drains, and a substance believed to be urine was placed in lockers.

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McClatchy-Tribune News Service


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