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La Crosse’s fire chief getting ready for new job near Phoenix

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FILE - La Crosse Fire Chief Ken Gilliam (right) gives the low five to Mayor Mitch Reynolds during a fire truck dedication at Fire Station No. 1 on Tuesday, July 20, 2021 (PHOTO: Rick Solem)

La Crosse Fire Chief Ken Gilliam is getting ready for his next assignment–in sunny Arizona.

Gilliam

Gilliam, who will be on La Crosse Talk PM at 5 p.m. Wednesday, told WIZM that he’ll become the chief of the Avondale, Ari., fire department in the Phoenix area next month.

He said the step up to a larger department is bittersweet, because he feels much has been accomplished during his five years in La Crosse.

“We’ve made a lot of inroads on everything from health and wellness to enhanced firefighter safety and firefighter education certifications,” Gilliam said. “We’ve made some major benchmarks. Beyond that, certainly the relationships we’ve developed with the Town of Medary, Town of Onalaska, Town of Holland and Village of Holmen.”

Before Gilliam is done in La Crosse later this month, he’ll be breaking ground in a few days on a new fire station near the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

Gilliam said the pandemic led him to explore other employment options.

“Last year, I kind of felt myself, stuck in the mud,” he said. “It seemed like everything was such a battle. I’m a change agent, I like keeping things moving forward, and it just seemed to me like I was getting stuck on a lot of things with a lot of people and it was just, it was time to kind of look outward.”

Gilliam submitted his resignation last month, and his last day as chief for La Crosse and Holmen will be April 15. He starts the new job in Arizona in May.

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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