La Crosse Fire Department looks towards the future

The La Crosse Fire Department was recently given one of the highest rankings in the state when it comes to insurance coverage. The class two ranking means the city saves money, but they won’t be satisfied until they reach class one.

Chief Gregg Cleveland says it’s about developing a long-term plan to improve the entire department. They say if they can do that, the class one ranking will come.

Cleveland says it’s about improving response times and facilities in the city. The two newest buildings they have were built 46 years ago, and the station on the northside was built in 1941. The city has changed a lot since then so part of their plan will take a look at what to do with those aging facilities. 

“To come up with a very visionary and forward plan to provide uniform response times for fire and emergency medical services throughout the community and then along with that will come the ratings scale,” Chief Cleveland said.

That may mean moving fire houses or adding on to current ones. But Chief Cleveland says that these changes don’t necessarily mean spending more taxpayer money. There are a lot of different ways the department can collaborate with surrounding communities to increase coverage. 


“Instead of us doing our own thing in the city, what is it that we can move forward and cooperate with other governmental agencies that could work for the benefit of their taxpayers as well as the city’s?” Chief Cleveland said. “And I think it’s that approach and that type of vision that’s going to set the stage for the next 30 to 50 years for the fire department.”

Chief Cleveland says staffing levels are also an issue. The department has lost between 10 and 15 positions over the past 15 years, and that affects response times as well.

The class two rating was not easy to get, fewer than 3-percent of fire departments in all of Wisconsin received the honor.