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La Crosse Fire Department breaks ground on new $4.4 million station



A fire truck sits inside La Crosse Fire Station No. 4 on July 27, 2023, the day the department broke ground on a new station. (PHOTO: Brad Williams)

For the second time this month, the La Crosse Fire Department celebrates a new start.

Two weeks after holding an open house at the new Fire Station No. 2, along La Crosse Street, the department broke ground Thursday on a north-side station.

Station No. 4 on Gillette Street, which will cost around $4.4 million, replaces the existing station that, according to Fire Chief Jeff Schott, had several problems.

La Crosse Fire Chief Jeff Schott and others shovel dirt at a groundbreaking on July 27, 2023, for the new north-side station No. 4 on Gillette Street (PHOTO: Brad Williams)

“If we get an inch an hour of rain, it comes into the basement,” Schott said. “We have issues with the heating and the cooling. We have issues with the bathrooms. We don’t have the ability to just go in and renovate as easily as we do with a newer building.”

Schott hopes to have the new Gillette Street station open a year from now.

The ceremony outside the station included thanks for many community leaders, who were helping develop the new building.

City council president Chris Kahlow thanked current Mayor Mitch Reynolds, who’s in Washington this week, as well as former Mayor Tim Kabat and former fire chief Ken Gilliam, who set plans for a new station in motion several years ago.

The existing station has been used since 1941, and the new building going up next door will be much larger and more modern — with more room for housing fire trucks.

Former council member Scott Neumeister is a north-sider who said a new station is overdue.

“I was amazed at how bad the fire station really was,” Neumeister said, recalling a past tour of the station. “Just to have to live here 24-7 for some of these firefighters, it had to be rough, to say the least.”

The new building is being designed for both men and women working as firefighters.

A rendering outside the old station, depicting how La Crosse’s new Fire Station No. 4 will look when it opens in 2024 (PHOTO: Brad Williams)

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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