La Crosse Fire Department to run Holmen Area Fire Department for $14,583 a month in new pact
LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — The La Crosse Fire Department will assume administration of the Holmen Area Fire Department for a year under a resolution the La Crosse Common Council approved Thursday night.
Council members Mark Neumann and Doug Happel characterized the approval, at a cost of $14,583.33 a month to the Holmen district, as one of the most important actions the council took Thursday, if not stretching back further.
The resolution, which has been considered in one form or another for years and is similar to La Crosse pacts with other municipalities, is the result of the Holmen department’s request for the La Crosse department’s chief and subordinates “to serve as the Acting Chief and management and administration” for Holmen.
The measure also calls for negotiations leading to a long-term agreement to begin immediately.
The Holmen Area Fire Association, which has been struggling to keep up with its fire staff and emergency response times, receives funding from the village of Holmen, the town of Onalaska and the town of Holland. Those municipalities have agreed to the resolution’s memorandum of understanding.
A December 2020 report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum found that the Holmen department had only 15 firefighters on staff, and the department’s responses to emergencies averaged six minutes slower than national standards.
Neumann, who welcomed the time-limited aspect of the pact, said, “It is good for us to improve services for our neighbors … but also important for our neighbors to carry the weight.”
Neuman praised the potential for the neighboring jurisdictions to contribute more money in the future.
The agreement, which took effect Thursday and extends until June 20, 2022, calls for the Holmen association to pay La Crosse the initial 2021 annual administrative services fee prorated at $14,583.33 a month from July through December. The first payment of $43,750 for three months will be due on Aug. 15.
The $43,750 payment for the remaining three months will be due on Oct. 15, under the agreement.
The annual cost will be increased by 3 percent a year, paid annually in two installments beginning in 2022.
In anticipation of the agreement, the Holmen department put its fire chief, Buck Manley, on paid administrative leave three months ago.
La Crosse Fire Chief Ken Gilliam said last month that the shared-services agreement would help reduce costs for both departments instead of having both pay for their own staffing and equipment.
The full resolution follows:
Resolution approving a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City of La Crosse
Fire Department and the Holmen Area Fire Department regarding a “Shared Fire
Administration” services agreement.
WHEREAS, the City of La Crosse Fire Department (LCFD) participated in the 2020
Wisconsin Policy Forum Study regarding Fire and EMS shared services opportunities in the
La Crosse County region; and
WHEREAS, the LCFD has expressed interest in partnering on shared services
opportunities with our regional mutual-aid municipalities; and
WHEREAS, the LCFD and the Holmen Area Fire Department (HAFD) have a longstanding mutual-aid agreement; and
WHEREAS, the HAFD Association Board has expressed interest in negotiating a
long-range Shared Services Agreement with the LCFD and the City of La Crosse; and
WHEREAS, the communities served by the HAFD (Village of Holmen, Town of
Onalaska, and Town of Holland) have voted to support the HAFD Association Board in
these Shared Services Agreement negotiations; and
WHEREAS, the HAFD Board has negotiated with the LCFD Fire Chief to develop an
interim “Shared Fire Administration MOU” agreement to provide the HAFD with immediate
leadership and management services while long-range Shared Services Agreement
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COMMON COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF
LA CROSSE AND THE HOLMEN AREA FIRE DEPARTMENT ASSOCIATION BOARD that
both counsels hereby approve the Shared Fire Administration MOU.
The full memorandum of understanding:
CITY OF LA CROSSE FIRE DEPARTMENT
HOLMEN AREA FIRE DEPARTMENT BOARD AND OWNERS
INTERGOVERNMENTAL SHARED ADMINISTRATION
MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING
Whereas, this Memorandum of Understanding (hereafter the “MOU” or “Agreement”) concerning
intergovernmental shared administration services is drafted and entered into by and between the Parties
hereto on or about the 9th day of July, 2021, by their respective governing bodies; and
Whereas, the Parties hereto are the City of La Crosse (hereafter the “City”) and the Holmen Area Fire
Association (hereafter the “HAFA”) (each respectively “Party” and collectively “Parties”); and
Whereas, HAFA requested certain temporary fire services and assistance from the City, including, without
limitation, the City’s Fire Chief and subordinates to serve as the Acting Chief and management and
administration of the Holmen Area Fire Department (hereafter the “HAFD”); and
Whereas, the City is willing to provide such temporary services under certain conditions and while the
Parties explore and negotiate a long-term shared service contract; and
Whereas, this MOU enables each of the Parties to take whatever actions each may jointly or severally
determine desirable and/or beneficial to effectuate the laudable intent and goals of this comprehensive,
mutual approach to fire prevention, fire suppression, review, inspection services, emergency medical
services, emergency hazardous substances response services, and other services incidental to the
protection of person and property within their respective participating communities; and
Whereas, each Party hereto already has a longstanding history of working and assisting each other
cooperatively in each of these activities; and
Whereas, this Agreement furthers the best interests of each community and governmental unit; and
Whereas, this Agreement shall facilitate greater efficiencies and economies of scale through unified
management and cost sharing, while preserving the high level of fire, first responder, and other services
each Party currently provides its citizens, residents, taxpayers, and businesses; and
Whereas, this MOU is intended by each of the Parties hereto to constitute a temporary yet flexible and
living instrument that primarily implements the spirit, intent, and vision of the parties, as well as a signed
document that memorializes and defines the present and reasonably foreseeable needs and desires of
each Party. As such, this MOU may be updated and amended from time to time, and at any time, by written
understandings, modifications, letters, and documents, which are signed by the Parties hereto; and
Whereas, this MOU attempts to describe, among other things, each of the Parties’ obligations with respect
to 911 emergency communications, personnel, property, fire stations, fire vehicles, engines, other
equipment, staffing, services, leases, cooperative efforts, and payments; and
Whereas, this MOU is not intended to establish, and does not establish, a separate governmental entity for
the performance of any function. By entering this MOU, the City does not assume, and shall not be
responsible for, any financial or other liabilities, whether known or unknown, with respect to the HAFD or
HAFA, or any other person or entity that may currently and/or in the future exist as of the Effective Date of
this MOU; and
Whereas, this MOU shall be construed and applied in accord with the laws of the State of Wisconsin.
NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the foregoing recitals, and the mutual
promises and covenants contained in this MOU, each Party hereto promises and agrees as follows:
1. Above Recitals Incorporated: Each of the above recitals is reiterated and incorporated herein by
reference as if fully set forth verbatim.
2. Scope of Work: In concert with the La Crosse County Fire Department Mutual Aid Agreement
and the Automatic Mutual Aid Agreement between the City and the HAFA, effective July 9, 2021,
the Parties are prepared to move forward with one temporary joint administration.
3. “Fire Chief” shall mean the duly appointed and employed Fire Chief for the City.
4. The City shall provide the position of Fire Chief to provide temporary administrative services to
HAFD for the purposes set forth herein.
5. The City has its own Board of Police and Fire Commissioners pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 62.13.
The HAFA functions as a joint board of fire commissioners pursuant to Wis. Stat. §§ 60.55(1)(a)2
and 61.65(2)(b)2. For purposes of this MOU, each such board of commissioners shall retain its
authority for its jurisdiction. To that end, the HAFA shall appoint the Fire Chief as Acting Fire
Chief for the HAFD as well as the City’s Assistant Fire Chiefs, Battalion Chiefs and Division
Chiefs as Acting Assistant Fire Chiefs, Acting Battalion Chiefs and Acting Division Chiefs for the
HAFD for the term of this MOU.
6. The Fire Chief and designees within the City’s Fire Department (hereafter the “LCFD”)
organizational chain of command are responsible for oversight and management of operational
and administrative services, fire prevention and investigation services, fire suppression services,
first responder emergency medical and technical rescue services, training and professional
standards services, public education and community risk management services, public relations,
budgeting, and strategic planning.
7. The Fire Chief and designees within the LCFD organizational chain of command will respond to
emergency incidents and be responsible to aid and assist in the mitigation of those emergency
events to the best of the existing response force’s capabilities.
8. The Fire Chief, or designee, is vested with the discretion to determine what service and
equipment is necessary, and is further vested with discretion as to responding to simultaneous
fires within the City of La Crosse, Village of Holmen, the Town of Holland, and the Town of
Onalaska served by the HAFD. The City shall in no way be liable for the exercise of such
discretion and the determination by the Fire Chief not to answer any alarm provided, the order of
priority assigned to any alarms that are received, or the methods of responding to the alarm within
the reasonable and available resources of the LCFD and HAFD, however, that an agent
designated by the HAFA shall be notified by the Fire Chief (or designee) that the LCFD and/or
HAFD are engaged in incident responses beyond available resource capacity within either
agency’s limits or any other town that the City or HAFA has a contract or mutual aid agreement
with, and the Fire Chief has decided that LCFD and HAFD cannot safely respond to the alarm of
the Village or Towns served by the HAFD. Existing mutual aid and MABAS agreements with
neighboring agencies will be requested at the discretion of the Fire Chief, or designee, to respond
to the potential of multiple simultaneous incidents that exceed available resources and response
will be prioritized to the best abilities of available partnering mutual aid resources. These
decisions will be made based on the priorities of life safety, incident scope and scale, and tactical
capability considerations in balance with available emergency response resources.
9. The Fire Chief will inform the HAFA, the City’s Mayor and Common Council, and the City’s Police
and Fire Commission of departmental shared services actives and operations as pertinent to
each organization on a regular and scheduled monthly basis and as requested by each
10. Funding: The HAFA shall provide annual funding to the City for the shared administrative
services. Considering the broad scope of administrative and management services affected by
this MOU and the work delegation capacity provided by the Fire Chief throughout the LCFD
organizational chart, the initial associated cost for this shared administrative services MOU shall
be based on an annual fee of one hundred seventy-five thousand dollars ($175,000.00). This
annual fee will include the costs to LCFD for one additional LCFD Fire Training Captain, whose
position will be regularly assigned to the Holmen Area Fire District as a shift supervisor working
a 112-hour bi-weekly shift schedule. This position will also provide flexibility to cover other offshift HAFD training needs and be available to rotate with other LCFD officers as needed to the
benefit of the HAFD and the Fire Chief.
The 2021 annual flat rate cost agreement that is identified in this MOU is offered in good faith by
the Fire Chief based on the HAFA’s commitment to immediately and continuously provide a
minimum of three qualified personnel on-duty at the HAFD on a full-time basis, and to
acknowledge these additional increased budget impacts of the investment into the increased
staffing matrix. Subsequent negotiations working towards a long-term shared services
agreement will evaluate the per capita cost ratio of services provided and/or any hybrid funding
system agreeable by all Parties to be utilized for future shared services.
The HAFA shall pay to the City the initial 2021 annual administrative services fee prorated at
$14,583.33 per month. In 2021, the MOU covers six months (July 2021 – December 2021). The
first 2021 payment for three months ($43,750.00) will be due on August 15 of 2021. The second
payment for the remaining three months ($43,750.00) will be due on October 15 of 2021. Unless
changed by subsequent amendment to this MOU or a future shared services agreement, this
annual calculation will be multiplied by a 3% annual increase from the 2021 base rate, and will
be paid annually in two installments beginning in 2022 (1st installment by April 30th and 2nd
installment by September 30th annually).
11. Working Relationship: The Fire Chief, Assistant Fire Chiefs, Battalion Chiefs, Division Chiefs and
any other City employees, such as the Captain identified in Section 10, working in the Holmen
Area Fire District pursuant to this MOU is an employee of the City, bound by the Policies of the
City and the Rules and Regulations of the City’s Police and Fire Commission, and will maintain
compensation, fringe benefits, and workers compensation protection from the City during all
times pertinent to this MOU. All fire personnel of the HAFA remain employees of the HAFA and
will maintain compensation, fringe benefits and workers compensation protection from the HAFA
during all time pertinent to this MOU.
12. The acts and/or omissions of the Fire Chief, Assistant Chiefs, Battalion Chiefs, Division Chiefs
and any other City employees, such as the Captain identified in Section 10, working in the
Holmen Area Fire District pursuant to this MOU are considered the acts and/or omissions of the
HAFA employees. The HAFA shall indemnify, defend and hold the City harmless for any such
acts and/or omissions.
13. The HAFA agrees to hold harmless and indemnify the City from any expenses incurred during
any Hazardous Materials Incident. The City will bill the HAFA for these costs pursuant to the
actual and necessary expenses incurred in responding to a hazardous materials incident in the
Holmen Area Fire District. “Hazardous Materials Incident” means any cost or loss arising from
the violation of the following:
i. Every person, firm or corporation using, storing, handling or transporting
flammable or combustible liquids, chemicals, gasses or other hazardous materials,
in the service area, shall comply with the requirements of OSHA 29 Code of
Federal Regulations 1910, EPA 40, Code of Federal Regulations 311, and Chapter
ATCP 93, Wis. Admin. Code, as the same is now in force and may hereafter be
amended or superseded from time to time.
ii. Every person, firm or corporation using, storing, handling or transporting (whether
by rail or on the highways) flammable or combustible liquids, chemicals, gasses or
other hazardous materials, in the service area are liable to the City for the actual
cost of labor and materials associated with the use of any specialized extinguishing
agent, chemical, neutralizer or similar material or equipment employed to
extinguish, confine or clean up any such hazardous material which is involved in
any accidental spill or in threat of any fire or accidental spill.
14. The HAFA shall hold harmless and indemnify the City from any claim or loss, of the City, arising
from any incident that occurs on properties that for the reason of slope, structure setback from
roadway, lack of fire hydrant water supply, grade or weight capacity of driveway, width of
driveway, overhang of buildings or trees, or other property design and access features that delay,
impede or prohibit access to the property by the LCFD equipment or otherwise adversely affect
or impede accepted LCFD’s tactical procedures or policies.
15. Effective Date/Duration/Termination: This MOU shall take effect July 9, 2021, and shall end on
June 30, 2022 at 11:59 pm.
16. Each Party expressly waives any and all claims against the other resulting from the discretionary
commands or instructions and the decisions made by any Incident Commander in the course of
responding to and managing any incident under this MOU, excepting only commands,
instructions, or decisions made with malicious intent or with intentional disregard for the rights of
17. Nothing in this MOU shall be deemed to waive any governmental immunity or liability limitation
to which any Party hereto is entitled by operation of law.
18. Default/Breach, Remedy: In the event that a Party defaults or breaches, on its part, in the
performance or fulfillment of one or more term(s), promise(s), or condition(s) of this MOU
(“Default”) and shall fail to cure such Default within ninety (90) days following delivery of written
notice from the other Party, specifying the Default and the date on which the right to terminate
the MOU may be exercised if such Default is not cured within the ninety (90) day cure period. If
the Default is not cured within ninety (90) days or some other resolution is not reached prior to
the termination date stated in notice or a consensus for any extension date is not reached, as
either the resolution or the extension date are mutually agreed to in a signed writing, then this
MOU shall terminate in accordance with the terms and conditions of this MOU. If the Default is a
failure of appropriation or other failure to make available funds or make a payment as required
in this MOU or otherwise, the cure period shall be thirty (30) days from the date of written notice.
19. Order and Decision of Fire Chief Binding: In each and every instance of management and control,
the decision, direction, and order of the Fire Chief shall be final, binding, and non-appealable,
the same as if given by the fire chief of any other Party hereto.
20. The Fire Chief shall create and maintain Standard Policies, Procedures, and Guidelines for the
mutually aligned management structure of the Departments. Emergency Medical Protocols will
be approved by the Departments’ mutual Medical Director. The Policies, procedures, guidelines,
and medical director protocols shall allow qualified personnel of the Departments to utilize fire,
rescue, and emergency medical equipment and supplies of each other’s Departments according
to the policies and protocols of the aligned Departments.
21. While directed and managed by the Fire Chief as part of this MOU, the HAFD reserves and will
remain primarily responsible for fire prevention, fire suppression, technical rescue, and first
responder emergency medical services within the jurisdictional boundaries of the Holmen Area
Fire District, as well as Fire District Fire and Building Codes, periodic fire safety inspections, and
issuance of building permits and certificates of occupancy. Recognizing the importance of the
LCFD being acquainted with structures in the Village of Holmen and the Towns of Onalaska and
Holland, as well as being responsible for managing fire prevention measures that would protect
the lives of LCFD and HAFD firefighters, the HAFD agrees to cooperate and coordinate with the
LCFD administration with respect to fire prevention and inspection activities, and the LCFD will
be notified and afforded the opportunity to participate in fire prevention and inspection activities
upon sufficient prior notice.
22. Applicable Codes: The Parties agree that the Fire Codes and Building Codes for the Village of
Holmen, the Towns of Onalaska and Holland, and the Fire District shall be compatible. The HAFD
and HAFA jointly and severally agree to and shall, within ninety (90) days of the Effective Date
of this MOU, adopt the current “International Building Code (IBC)” and the “National Fire
Protection Association Fire Code (NFPA 1)”, and shall adopt any subsequent versions of the
International Building Codes and NFPA 1 Fire Codes within six (6) months of the City’s adoption
of said subsequent versions of said codes. If the Towns and/or Village fail to update their codes
in accordance with this section, then the City may terminate this Agreement.
23. No Conflicting Fire Codes: The Village of Holmen, the Towns of Onalaska and Holland, and the
HAFA each also agree to not adopt any laws or amendments to said building and fire codes that
conflict with or are materially inconsistent with the applicable International Building Codes (IBC)
and Fire Codes (NFPA 1) without obtaining the prior, written approval of the Fire Chief. The City
has adopted amendments to the IBC and NFPA 1 which are already in effect for the City. Both
the Village of Holmen and the Towns of Onalaska and Holland shall provide the Fire Chief copies
of the adoption of ordinances, if and when so enacted, and all subsequent amendments thereto.
If the Towns and/or Village fail to comply with this section of the MOU, then the City may terminate
24. Emergency Medical Services and Technical Rescue Services: The Fire Chief shall directly
oversee and manage first responder emergency medical services and technical rescue services
to be provided within the jurisdictional boundaries of the Holmen Area Fire District. The minimum
level of first responder emergency medical services (Emergency Medical Technician level) will
be equivalent to that provided to City residents during the Term of this MOU. This is in addition
to what the HAFD already provides.
25. Fire Cause Determination and Arson Investigations: During the Term of this MOU, the LCFD
shall oversee and coordinate on all “cause and origin” fire investigations within the Holmen Area
Fire District, working together with qualified HAFD staff and consistent with the LCFD’s
investigative practices and procedures within the City. The LCFD will work in conjunction with
the HAFD and respective law enforcement agencies and the State Fire Marshal’s Office
regarding all fire and arson investigations which involve, or result from, the commission of a
criminal act in the Holmen Area Fire District.
26. Change of Quarters. In the event either Party’s resources or ability to respond to emergency
incidents are temporarily depleted as a result of deployment, equipment failure, or similar
temporary impediments to service, the depleted Department may make a request for a “Change
of Quarters Unit” through the La Crosse County Dispatch Center. When the other Department
has available response apparatus and personnel, it shall move the equipment as directed by the
Fire Chief or designee and shall be stage and be available for response as necessary and as
27. Equipment and Vehicle Loans. Notwithstanding anything in this Agreement to the contrary, if
either Department borrows or uses the other Department’s equipment or vehicles, the borrowing
Department shall be responsible for and shall timely pay for the cost of any repairs for damages
sustained to such vehicles and equipment during the course and as a result of the temporary
use, unless such damages were the result of the acts or negligence of the lending Department.
28. Other Shared Services Opportunities. The Parties agree to work together to negotiate and
facilitate other forms of providing shared services, including, without limitation, joint staffing
opportunities, shared stations and equipment, maintenance programs, aligned training and
professional standards management, administrative support services, fire prevention services,
public education efforts, community risk analysis and community risk reduction services,
potentially improved ISO ratings, and eventual incorporation into the City Fire Department’s
existing accreditation by the Center for Public Safety Excellence and the Commission on Fire
29. Rolling Stock, Buildings, Fixtures, Equipment, and Station Facilities: Each party shall retain and
maintain ownership of its own current and future rolling stock, buildings, fixtures, equipment, and
fire facilities, and at all times shall keep the same insured, solely at its own expense, for liability
and comprehensive at replacement value. The Fire Chief shall make all management, direction,
and use decisions as to the acquisition, maintenance, repair, replacement, and use of all rolling
stock, buildings, fixtures, equipment, and fire facilities. Each Party, however, shall be solely
responsible for all costs, expenses, fees, borrowing, and expenditures arising from and/or
pertaining to same.
30. Each Party hereto shall be solely responsible for maintenance and ownership for all its own
31. This MOU is not intended to, and shall not be construed to, alter or amend any collective
bargaining agreement now in effect. In addition, City shall have no responsibility or financial
liability for and will not administer any differential pay or severance obligations that the HAFD
and/or HAFA now has and/or may have for its paid and unpaid personnel, and shall have no
responsibility or financial liability for any obligations that the HAFD and/or HAFA may have to
said personnel and/or volunteers based upon their service to and employment and/or use by the
HAFD including, but not limited to, payouts, leave, benefits, overtime, compensatory time,
disability, workers compensation, merit pay, bonuses, pensions, litigation claims. In the event a
firefighter union or person asserts or alleges that this MOU modifies, alters or amends any
collective bargaining agreement, then either Party may terminate the Agreement.
32. Any references in this MOU to any particular agency, organization or officials shall be interpreted
as applying to any successor agency, organization or official or to any other agency, organization
or official to which contemplated functions are transferred by statute or ordinance. Any references
in this MOU to any particular stature, ordinance or other law shall be interpreted as applying to
such statue, ordinance or other law as recreated or amended from time to time.
33. Amendment: This MOU may be amended from time to time by written agreement of the Parties.
34. This MOU and any dispute arising from or related to this MOU shall be governed by, construed,
interpreted and enforced in accordance with the laws of the State of Wisconsin. This MOU has
been drafted by the combined efforts of all Parties to the Agreement and therefore shall not be
construed against the drafter during a dispute.
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