Getting to know La Crosse's new fire chief

Getting to Know La Crosse's Fire Chief

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Coming from St. Paul, Minnesota, La Crosse Fire Chief Ken Gilliam is looking forward to continue his career in La Crosse.

"It doesn't take you 30 years to get a policy change enacted, it's a little bit more dynamic and you can work through issues and changes," Gilliam said.

With 14 years of experience under his belt, Gilliam can tell you the job is a lot more than fighting fires.

"We're doing water rescue hazmat, technical rope rescue, collapse rescue and it's kind of this all hazards fire system that we're working in here and La Crosse is very fortunate to have that."

As the city's new fire chief, Gilliam says he knows he's stepping into a highly respected role.

He says although the department is accredited and well known for its work, he hopes to bring improvements to the department.

"I'm looking for opportunities where I can engage maybe my skill set from a different perspective to help them get over any hurdles or humps, or it may be just that outside view coming in, looking and saying well have you considered this?"

Gilliam says safety is also on the forefront of his plans.

"How do I make the firefighter's job safer? How do I make it safer for the people out on the streets that we're ultimately here for."

He says his goal is to ultimately build strong relationships in the community and make sure he's available when needed.

"If somebody has a question about why the fire department is doing something I would fully encourage them to just contact me direct, my number is well published, we've got a website so get a hold of me, if there's anything at all that I can do to help educate anybody about this absolutely great organization, I'm all in I'd love to have that discussion."

Gilliam says one of his goals is to also upgrade and improve fire station number one to make it a safer workplace for everyone involved.

The fire department is still working to add a fifth fire station. Rebuilding the four stations and adding an additional fifth station, would cost about $28 million.


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