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Fire chief says La Crosse department does more than fire protection

Brad Williams

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As the La Crosse Fire Department makes plans to build additional fire stations, or replace old ones, some people are asking whether the city needs a full-time department. 

Fire Chief Ken Gilliam has a ready answer: his department does much more than fire control.

“We support a hazardous materials team, that deals with tanker and rail incidents. We support a radiological field team assessment that deals with nuclear incidents for this side of the state, one of two in the state,” said Gilliam on WIZM’s La Crosse Talk.

The chief says that the La Crosse department is actively working on “automatic aid” agreements, aimed at getting fire crews to emergencies as quickly as possible.   

Gilliam says a study of mutual aid needs is not a “takeover” of other fire departments, or something for La Crosse’s neighbors to be worried about.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.