A Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) bus driver was honored on October 10 for her efforts to help save residents from a burning apartment earlier this year.

Chanaye Brown was along Route 12 late at night on January 5, 2019, when she spotted flames shooting from the window of a building near 79th and Hampton in Milwaukee.

“The house is on fire,” Chanaye calmly told a passenger as she brought her bus to a stop. The man pulled out his cell phone and called 911 as Chanaye notified MCTS Dispatchers. “I’m going to see if I can get somebody’s attention,” Chanaye said as she ran outside.

Chanaye pounded on the front door while yelling that there was a fire. Terrified residents, including multiple children, started to evacuate. Most residents did not know about the fire until Chanaye arrived.

Chanaye heard the voices of other kids who were still inside. She decided to run into the burning apartment unit, where she tried using a resident’s fire extinguisher to put out the fire. Unfortunately, the device was not working properly.

Police officers and firefighters pulled up to the scene moments later and successfully extinguished the fire. No one was hurt. Authorities said the incident is a reminder about the importance of having working smoke detectors.

As part of Fire Prevention Week 2019, officials with the Milwaukee Fire Department are commending Chanaye for her actions. On October 10, 2019, Chanaye was named “Honorary Chief of the Day.”

She then canvassed a neighborhood with firefighters and Red Cross volunteers to check for working smoke detectors, and install new alarms when needed. Later that evening, she was recognized with a Community Hero Award during the department’s annual Meritorious Service Awards Ceremony.

“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. We commend Chanaye for her quick and decisive action in stepping up and helping when the situation arose.”

The MCTS Excellence program launched in 2016 as a unique way to recognize MCTS staff for their big and small acts of kindness, compassion or heroism. The initiative includes a popular video series, in which bus surveillance video is used to tell incredible stories that might not otherwise get told. Hundreds of millions of people around the world have viewed or read about the inspiring deeps of MCTS employees thanks to the broad reach of social media, TV, radio, newspapers, and online magazines.

“Each and every day, the dedicated men and women at MCTS keep our residents safe and our communities stronger and more secure,” said Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele. “Chanaye Brown went above and beyond her call of duty and looked past any potential danger she was likely to face when she walked up to that fire. She is a true hero among us, and this commendation is a small way that we can pay tribute for her commitment and dedication to all residents of Milwaukee County.”

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Milwaukee County Transit System