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La Crosse airport plans to provide its own fire protection

Brad Williams

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The La Crosse airport is going to provide most of its own fire protection in the new year, instead of relying on the city fire department. 

That change has been approved as a cost-cutting measure by a city council committee, with the full council expected to take a vote next week. 

The contract between the fire department and the airport expired at year’s end. 

Fire Chief Ken Gilliam says it was mainly a matter of saving money, and airport director Ian Turner says other cities in the region do the same thing.

“Most of our regional airports in central Wisconsin, and down I-90 in Rochester, this is how they staff their firefighting duties,” said Turner.

Existing airport staff would be trained to handle some emergency responsibilities on airport property, under the plan. 

The change could allow the fire department to devote more resources to pandemic response. 

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.

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    Gerald Every

    January 8, 2021 at 12:17 pm

    The reasoning here is sound. The people stationed at the airport are trained and able to handle non threatening accidents and minor fires, that need to be handled on the spot, with limited equipment and supplies. They are backed up, and rightfully so, however by city owned equipment and facilities. The questions are; Will the same number of firefighters be stationed there? Are city personell rotated into duty there to fill manpower shortages? How often? Who will pay for the new equipment or needed manpower? As I understand it the airport is an enterprise type unit which has a limited type of tax funding. Do they have excess funds? Why? If not, what are the funding and staffing plans? This is an idea that is worth exploring, however I hope it is not just another scheme that promises no increases in taxes because of savings elsewhere, which should rightfully be returned to taxpayers!

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