Fire power: Report suggests La Crosse County fire and EMS combine resources

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — Should La Crosse County fire and EMS services be working together more? A report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum says yes.  

The study finds La Crosse and its neighbors are doing a good job protecting their communities, but they need more resources. La Crosse County and the La Crosse Area Planning Committee paid for the research that suggests all fire and EMS services work together by expanding mutual aid agreements, training together, and possibly someday combining departments to form a regional fire service.

The collaboration would increase services at a potentially lower cost, according to researchers.

“The real promise of service sharing and consolidation is the potential opportunity to spend less than you might overwise spend in terms of initiating service enhancements,” explains Wisconsin Policy Forum President Rob Henken.

The report is being met with pushback. The town of Campbell refused to take part.  La Crosse Fire Chief Ken Gilliam believes collaboration will benefit the entire region, if leaders give it a chance.

“It’s just a matter of politically getting those political leaders to drop a lot of decades old tiffs over parochial things,” Gilliam said.

Onalaska and Holmen have already reviewed the report. A La Crosse common council committee is next, followed by La Crosse County in March.