La Crosse Fire Department received 500 more response calls in 2019 compared to last year

The La Crosse Fire Department responded to more than 6,600 calls this year.

That’s 500 more calls they took than last year.

“We keep getting busier,” fire department chief Ken Gilliam said.

More fire calls have kept the department on its toes.

“That just continues to trend annually that direction,” Gilliam said.

The beginning of 2019 was a big cause of it.

“I think we had a very big spread of them kinda during that polar vortex right away at the beginning of the year,” Gilliam said.

Temperatures got lower than negative 30 degrees in La Crosse during that brutal stretch.

“There’s a few weeks where I think we had upwards of 17-18 fires in about a two-three week span,” Gilliam said. “That’s very uncommon.”

The fire department received 6,665 calls in 2019. But 132 of them were for fires. Emergency management and rescue service accounted for 4,358 calls. That’s about 65 percent of the total calls.

So the department is putting a bigger focus on making sure you stay safe.

“We strengthened our paramedic first response program with Gundersen Tri-State ambulance,” Gilliam said. “We’re still progressing towards a long-range contact with that.”

Another focus is more training.

“Really big initiatives on our special operations team, the water rescue hazmat technical rescue, and our tactical EMS,” Gilliam said.

And also making sure the community is prepared.

“That’s ultimately reducing the risk,” Gilliam said. “Not just responding to them, but getting out there ahead of the curve, and teaching people how to be safer and have some impact on the front end of it before there’s a tragedy.”

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