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Two longtime Menomonee Falls firefighters honored for service

Assistant and deputy fire chiefs retiring this year

Jan. 22, 2013

Menomonee Falls - Together, they have spent nearly 70 years serving their community.

That legacy is coming to a close for Assistant Fire Chief Richard Burgess and Deputy Fire Chief Richard Kropp, who were both honored for their dedication and years of service to the village and the fire department at the Village Board meeting Monday.

"It's been an honor and a privilege to serve the 32 years as assistant chief on this department," Burgess said to his family and colleagues at the meeting.

Burgess officially retired from his position Jan. 1. Kropp will retire in a few months. Both men will continue to serve as volunteer firefighters for the department.

"Both these gentleman have provided valuable service to the department for all their years they've been here," Fire Chief Jeff Hevey said.

Burgess joined the Menomonee Falls Fire Department as a firefighter in 1980. Shortly after, he was licensed as an EMT and assigned to fire station 3. In 1984, he was promoted to lieutenant. Two years later, he was responsible for organizing and training a local hazmat team made up of personnel from Menomonee Falls and a handful of surrounding communities.

In the late 90s, the fire department was reorganized into three divisions - emergency medical systems, hazmat and fire - with a chief as head of each one.

In 1988, Burgess was made head of the hazmat division.

He led this division until he was promoted to assistant chief in 1994.

"Words can't express our gratitude to what you've done for the village," Village President Randy Newman said. "On behalf of myself and the board thank you so much. There's not a lot of guys like you around anymore and we are thankful for getting the two of you."

Kropp was hired in March of 1977. He was promoted to lieutenant at fire station 2 in 1982. Two years later he became captain of that department. In 1989, he was promoted to chief of the EMS division.

Lastly, he was promoted to deputy chief of operations in 2005, while serving as a full-time training officer.

When Menomonee Falls Police Chief Anna Ruzinski took over as director of protective services, a goal was to move the fire department into the next generation of firefighting and prevention for the village.

Along with the fire department command staff, which included Burgess and Kropp, they set out to develop a plan for the department to improve response times and build a more consistent and stable structure within the department.

"Even though Assistant Chief Burgess and Deputy Chief Kropp knew they were writing themselves out of this new reorganization, they continued to work hard and diligent in the new structure and supporting that new structure when it was presented to the entire department," Ruzinski said. "They did it out of their love for the village, the village's fire department and the fire service as a whole."

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