A fire call Saturday in the town of Campbell sparked La Crosse’s fire chief to ignite the concept of forming a regional department. But Chief Ken Gilliam, just shy of a year into the job, said leaders of La Crosse’s neighboring municipalities extinguished the idea. That means — at times — firefighters closest to an emergency won’t be the first to respond when another agency needs help.
“It’s like stepping through a mine field because of past failed attempts at mutual efforts,” Gilliam said. “It’s like people are afraid to even talk about it.” Those charged with leading neighboring municipalities and fire departments say they’re willing to listen to Gilliam, although some have warmed to the idea more than others.