The Milwaukee Fire Department named bus driver Chanaye Brown “honorary chief of the day” after rushing into a burning apartment and saving the lives of its residents. On January 5, Brown was driving late at night along Route 12 when she noticed flames coming from an apartment’s window near 79th and Hampton in Milwaukee.
Brown calmly informed a passenger that the house is on fire. She then brought the bus to a stop and rushed to the door of the building.
“I basically stopped the bus right there and hopped off the bus and ran up to the apartment building and started banging on the door, trying to ring the doorbell. I heard kids in there and I kind of panicked a little more. So that’s what made me start getting a little bit louder and just yelling and getting everybody’s attention,” Brown said.
When she finally got the attention of some residents, they got terrified and quickly evacuated. Unfortunately, some kids were left inside the building and as soon as she heard the little voices, Brown ran into the burning apartment unit.
Using a fire extinguisher, she tried to put out the fire but it was not working properly. “Just full force, just act, go,” Brown said. “I don’t know, I guess I just felt like it was something that I needed to do.” Soon after, police and firefighters arrived at the scene and got rid of the fire. No one was hurt in the incident but the Milwaukee Fire Department was so thankful for Brown’s exceptional bravery.
“The Milwaukee Fire Department is proud of the actions and quick thinking of Chanaye Brown, resulting in minimal fire instead of what most likely would have been a full-fledged structure fire,” said Lieutenant Michael Ball, Community Relations Director for the Milwaukee Fire Department.
“Because of her actions in calling the fire department first, alerting residents, and attempting to help extinguish the fire, not only was no one hurt, minimal damage occurred to the building — allowing the rest of the residents to return to their apartments rather than be displaced.”
She was also commended by Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, expressing his gratitude to the dedicated men and women at MCTS who keep the county residents safe every day.
Because of her heroic actions, Brown was named “honorary chief of the day.” She also joined the Red Cross and firefighters in handing out smoke detectors. According to Brown, she did just what any good mom would do. She said, “I just like to look at it like I was doing something that I would like somebody to do if it was my kids in that predicament. That’s how I feel any time I’m out here driving a route and I see or hear something going on. I just think about my kids and that’s what makes me do a lot of the things that I do.”
In relation to this initiative, Lieutenant Mike Ball of the Milwaukee Fire Department emphasized the importance of having a smoke alarm and an escape plan to help save lives and properties.
During the Milwaukee Fire Department’s annual Meritorious Service Awards Ceremony, Brown will be given a Community Hero Award.
Brown is a perfect exemplar of the saying “not all heroes wear capes” and if everyone would be as brave and as selfless as her, the world would be a safer and a much better place.
Watch this video and see how Chanaye Brown braved the blazing fire and saved the lives of the children: