During last week’s Common Council meeting, the La Crosse City Council approved for the La Crosse Fire Department to conduct a feasibility study on adding a new fire station.
Currently the department has four stations throughout the city.
“They were built to the time when the fire service was just different. The trucks were a lot smaller so our apparatus are barely fitting in the bays. We don’t have a lot of room to work with down on the apparatus floors, as well as back when these stations were built there weren’t co-ed living arrangements, or working arrangements. In the fire service there were no females,” said La Crosse Fire Chief Ken Gilliam.
For the potential new station, the department says they want it to be on La Crosse’s southside.
Gilliam says the department is looking at the southside because that is where the community is continuing to grow.
“We looked at a lot of data, call volume analysis, things like that. And it truly showed that we needed a station located farther to the south,” he said.
Gilliam says he is now in the process of working towards picking a site for the new station.
“It’s really the flow of traffic, making sure we can get onto a major artery to get north, south, east, west, things like that. The other piece that’s kind of unique that we’re looking at is where can we develop in partnership with other city departments,” said Gilliam.
In 2017, a Fire Station Task Force recommended La Crosse go from four stations to five.
Gilliam says if a fifth station on the southside were to be built, the city wouldn’t be forced to hire more staff.
“We’re certainly looking at these fire stations to be neighborhood anchors, really to be places where people can go for a safe place to help. We’re pretty strategically located in the center of a lot of community group areas right now,” said Gilliam.
The department has asked for funding for the new station in the 2020 Capital Improvement Budget, but that needs council approval.