Western Kenosha County fire departments aiding Kenosha as needed

During the days and especially the nights of unrest in Kenosha this week, Western Kenosha County fire departments have been among those that have been aiding the Kenosha Fire Department.

On Sunday, Kenosha Police officer Rusten Sheskey shot Jacob Blake during an arrest. Sheskey is white, Blake is black. Blake is recovering from serious injuries in a Milwaukee hospital. Family members say he is paralyzed from the waist down.

The shooting set off protests that transitioned to violence after dark. Monday night saw several buildings set on fire. On Tuesday, a 17 year old from Antioch, Ill. allegedly shot three people in a clash near Sheridan Road and 63rd Street. Two of those — one from Silver Lake — died and another suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

All Western Kenosha County fire and rescue departments have been sending personnel and equipment — from ambulances to engines — to Kenosha to fill needs, said James Lejcar, Salem Lakes Fire/Rescue assistant chief.

“We have had elements out there every day since Sunday,” Lejcar said Wednesday afternoon.

As for personnel, Salem Lakes has been sending firefighters and officers, Lejcar said.

While local departments are helping in Kenosha, departments from elsewhere have helped staff departments here so there are no shortages of equipment or personnel to answer calls.

Monday night was perhaps the busiest for firefighting, as several buildings were set on fire in the Kenosha downtown and Uptown neighborhoods.

Fighting fires under circumstances where scenes may not be safe for fire personnel makes these situations challenging, Twin Lakes Fire Department Chief Stan Clause Jr. said.

“Calls like these are difficult to respond to first because it is not the norm,” Clause said, though he was not personally on the scene in Kenosha Monday night. “We are trained that scene safety is number one. You cannot just pull up to a scene that has the potential to harm the first responders.”

Lejcar said the situation is a good example of cooperation between all Kenosha County fire departments on both sides of I-94. For example, he said utilizing Twin Lakes dispatch — which has its own operation separate from the county joint dispatch that most departments use — was useful for him to relay messages when joint dispatch was overwhelmed.

Kenosha was more peaceful Wednesday night, Sheriff David Beth said at a press conference Thursday afternoon.

“Last night was very peaceful … hopefully we are over that hump of what we will have to face,” Sheriff David Beth said. “Overall, I am very pleased with the last 24 hours.”

That’s good news, but Western Kenosha County Fire Departments stand ready to help as long as needed.

“The county departments will assist Kenosha until they don’t need us anymore,” Lejcar said


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