LETTER: Newburg chief: Letter was not a threat to withhold services

To Ozaukee Press:

The purpose of this letter is to formally respond to a news story in the Dec. 26 issue of the Ozaukee Press.

In that article, statements were attributed to me that are absolutely inaccurate, and the record needs to be set straight.

At no time did I suggest or try to persuade the fire chiefs responsible for fire protection in the Town of Saukville to pledge to not respond to “any emergency.”

It was never in the plans of the Newburg Fire Department to not respond to emergencies in the Town of Saukville should a fire contract not be signed by Jan. 1, 2019.

I met briefly in person with the three other fire chiefs that cover the town.

I proposed the submission of a letter, signed by all four chiefs, that would inform the Town of Saukville that should a contract not be signed the departments are under no legal obligation to respond to emergencies other than requests for medical assistance.

This was not a threat, it is a fact.

I made it clear to the chiefs at that time that I was not suggesting that we not respond, and that I was only intending on calling the town’s attention to their potential liability exposure.

At that time, the chiefs agreed to the concept of the letter.

I then submitted the letter to each of the chiefs for their signature.

The chiefs decided to not sign the letter to the town, and I respect their decisions.

I had a telephone conversation with Fredonia Chief Brian Weyker prior to the town meeting, who assumed that I was suggesting that the departments not respond to calls for service. In that conversation I again made it clear to him that we intended to respond to emergencies, even if a contract was not signed.

The letter was never submitted to the Town of Saukville and was sent only to the fire chiefs.

The letter was ultimately not signed by me or any other fire chief.

I am disappointed that the letter was released to the press without the authorization of its author.

I am equally disappointed in statements suggesting that I wanted a commitment from others to leave our community neighbors unprotected.

The letter factually stated that we are under “no obligation” to respond, but it never said that we would not.  

These negotiations with the township have been difficult.

The most recent contract has been in place for the past three years.

The proposal for another three-year contract reflected a zero percent increase in the first year, and a 1% increase in each of the next two years.                   

 The Newburg Fire Department has tried to present a fair contract, as reflected by the small increases being sought. We are not insensitive to the financial strain the Town of Saukville faces.

Several of our own department members reside within the township.

However, the costs to the fire departments associated with providing fire protection have increased tremendously.

The departments that cover the township do not come to the township for additional funding for apparatus purchases or other high-dollar expenses.

The unpleasant fact is that if the contract price is substantially reduced significant cuts to the firefighting budgets of the respective departments will have to be made. It remains to be seen how each fire department will address those reductions.

In closing, I want to make it absolutely clear that the mission of the all-volunteer Newburg Fire Department is to serve our community.

As we have done in the past, we will continue to do everything we can to respond to those who are in need, regardless of the circumstances.

Mark Chesak
Newburg Fire Department

Editor’s comment: Newburg Fire Chief Mark Chesak’s proposed letter stated that without a contract “the undersigned fire departments are under no obligation to respond to emergency calls within the Town of Saukville with the exception of emergency medical calls.” The Ozaukee Press news story was based on a letter from the Fredonia fire chief to hisVillage Board in which he characterized Chesak’s letter as meaning “if a contract wasn’t approved. we would not respond to any emergencies in their township.” We regret that distinction was not made clear in our reporting.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
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