Fire department open house marks start of ‘fire prevention year’

The Onalaska Fire Department held an open house Saturday morning as part of National Fire Prevention Week.

Other community emergency response organizations teamed-up with the fire department for the open house such as Tri-State Ambulance, the La Crosse County Dive Unit and Gundersen Health System, which landed their Med-Link Helicopter at the event.

The Onalaska fire chief, Billy D. Hayes, said events like this help him reach out to the community before emergencies happen.

“Today has been a tremendous turn out. We’re overwhelmed by the outpouring from the community, the involvement of the community. And that’s what we’re here for: to serve the community,” said Hayes.

Hayes said he plans on increasing the amount of community events the department holds throughout the year, and that fire prevention week should last all year long.

He is also starting a citizen’s fire academy, which he said will launch in the spring of 2019.