After 30 years of protecting North Shore communities — first in Fox Point and then as a member of the — Battalion Chief Jeff Weigand is retiring.
As a battalion chief, Weigand oversaw firefighters at five different stations within the NSFD. Chief Robert Whitaker said Weigand didn't just do his job – he excelled.
“He was a great emergency scene manager and was able to quickly process information and think on his feet,” Whitaker said, adding that Weigand wasn’t the kind of supervisor to shy away from difficult issues either, and preferred to challenge them head-on. “Jeff worked great with others and was always willing to talk about issues and discuss them.”
From Volunteer to Chief
While his official last day will be Sept. 9, Weigand, 53, worked his last shift as battalion chief last week, capping a three-decade-run that began in July of 1981.
Already a volunteer firefighter for New Berlin, Weigand decided to apply to the Fox Point Fire Deportment so many years ago after working briefly with Curtis Universal Ambulance, a job he took on temporarily until the economy could turn back around.
With the FPFD, Weigand would be promoted to lieutenant, then captain. When Fox Point joined another six municipalities in 1994 to create the NSFD, Weigand made his way further up the ladder, securing the post of battalion chief.
His longevity has made him an asset, said Chief Whitaker.
“(He’s) the last remaining administrator that came over in the consolidation process,” he explained. “He carried a lot of history with him about the consolidation process that occurred in 1994-1995 and the creation of NSFD.”
Weigand even hired Chief Whitaker as a firefighter many years ago. “Ultimately, I worked for him, with him as a peer as Battalion Chief and then he worked for me as the fire chief,” recalled Whitaker.
Many Years, Many Memories
Looking back over the years, Weigand has many fond memories.
“I wish I had started a book when I entered the fire service,” he said. “So many stories, so many memories.”
“One story that comes to mind is a sledding accident that occurred at in the mid-80s or early 90s in which a young girl was found halfway down the hill unable to move after striking a tree,” Weigand recalled.
“I responded and found the young girl on her side complaining of back pain. After completing an initial assessment of the girl I discovered that she in fact had a fractured back. Without moving the patient I dug out the snow underneath her in order to place a (spine-stabilizing) jacket on her,” he continued. “We successfully moved the young girl from the hill to the hospital without compromising her fractured back. It wasn’t until years later that I found out the young girl made a complete recovery and did not experience any paralyses.”
Consolidation Paid Off
And while it was a lot of work, being part of the team behind the fire department consolidation efforts, Weigand says it was well worth it.
“It was an adventure with a lot of good times and a lot of hair-pulling nights making it all work,” he recalled, having been tapped to join the team by then-Fox Point Mayor, Mark Pollark. “Consolidation worked extremely well for the North Shore communities. It reduced duplication of services, equipment and manpower. It enhanced training and the end product to the customers.”
In his newly-found spare time, Weigand plans to continue his hobbies of building new homes, remodeling and carpentry.
"However, golf will be my main focus in the next few months," he said.
In the end, Weigand said the variety of the job is what kept it interesting and challenging.
“What other job or career can you think of that offers a different experience every day you go to work?” he asked. "Assisting a new mother in the delivery of her first child, rescuing a family from a burning building, responding to a motor vehicle accident and caring for the wounded. Each day offered an enormous opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life.”