The Milwaukee Fire Bell Club is a group of fire buffs (fans) dedicated to the mission of the fire service. The Club was founded in 1947, and is a nonprofit organization limited to 40 active members who are all civilian volunteers. Club members consist of retirees and workers in the engineering, legal, medical, journalism, banking and communications field. The Milwaukee Fire Bell Club supports all Milwaukee county fire departments and related organizations.
The Milwaukee Fire Bell Club holds monthly meetings at the quarters of Engine 33. Club members participate in fire department training exercises, fire education programs, and other fire service causes giving generously of their time and money. One of the Milwaukee Fire Bell Club’s chief activities is the staffing of the Emergency Supply Unit (ESU).
The ESU provides canteen services to aid in the rest and rehab cycles emergency workers require during extended operations such as major fires, the search for drowning victims, SWAT/hostage crises, and sometimes natural disasters such as the aftermath of a tornado.
When firefighters are undergoing heavy exertion over long periods, often in extreme hot or cold weather, the ESU is there to hand out coffee, cocoa, Gatorade, lemonade, soup, stew, hamburgers, and other foods and beverages. All of the items are served free to firefighters and other emergency workers on the scene such as police, sheriff deputies, utility workers, Red Cross volunteers, and the victims at the scene of the disaster. The Milwaukee Fire Bell Club may be called upon any time of the day or night, and during any weather condition.
The Milwaukee Fire Bell Club is affiliated, as well as a host of other such clubs, with the International Fire Buffs Association (IFBA). This association was founded in Milwaukee in 1953. Every 10 years the IFBA has its annual convention in the Milwaukee area.