LA CROSSE Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – For nearly a year, the La Crosse Fire Department has been helping the Holmen Fire Department cover shifts. That agreement is nearing an end.

Last summer, the La Crosse and Holmen Fire Departments joined together to create a shared fire administration. La Crosse took leadership of Holmen and has been providing administrative and staffing help ever since.

Holmen Fire Board President Patrick Barlow considers the arrangement a success so far.

“I think it’s really given us a picture of what things could improve our services, where we were strong, and some ideas of how to make things better into the future.”

The initial agreement was set to expire at the end of this month, but the la crosse city council will consider a resolution this week to extend it through the end of the year.

“They understand a strong regional approach to firefighting benefits all communities, including their own, and we’re very appreciative of their willingness to move forward with us.”

The memorandum of understanding between the two departments was always meant to be temporary while a long-term agreement was ironed out. If the MOU is amended to last until December, Barlow says the extra time will help fine-tune the partnership.

“We are having discussions about what the future entails…those are very broad, sweeping, kind of idea-generating discussions about what it may mean to be connected into the future, and what shape that may take.”

No matter if it’s in La Crosse or Holmen, Barlow says Coulee Region firefighters are committed to keeping the community safe no matter what deal is reached.

“They don’t care what name is on the helmet or the fire truck; if they’re called, they’ll work well together to benefit the community and benefit each other. That’s the kind of spirit that I’m hoping all people in the region can develop and grow.”

The La Crosse City Council will vote on extending the shared service agreement on Thursday. The extended shared service agreement was approved by the La Crosse finance and personnel committee last week. The resolution was recommended to be adopted by all six members of the committee.