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Onalaska Fire Chief says the department will continue to thrive after his retirement

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Onalaska, WI (WXOW) -

Onalaska's Fire Chief Don Dominick looks forward to retirement after 39 years, the last 11 serving as chief.

As chief, he's taken the department forward to serve as a community resource instead of just fighting fires.

"When I started out the Fire Department wasn't responsible for medical emergencies," Onalaska Fire Chief Don Dominick said. Due in part to his efforts, along with others, the department now responds to medical emergencies.

The changes made during Dominick's tenure impact Onalaska residents whether they are aware or not.

"In those 11 years he's established a lot of relationships of course, and I think again of the school system, you have to establish trust," Onalaska city council member Harvey Bertrand describes his opinion of the chief.

"His door is always open, not only to city council people but everybody," Bertrand said.

Coming from the Detroit area, Chief Dominick quickly came to appreciate the tight-knit Onalaska community, a connection that helped him to feel at home.

"People on our dispatch on the radio say when you get to the address the front door is open and come on in, the community really, really cares," Chief Dominick said. 

His departure creates a challenge for the city to find a suitable replacement.

While his retirement has some residents worried, Dominick says the department thrived before his involvement and will continue to after he leaves. "It wasn't me. My predecessors are the ones that paved the way. If there is something that is difficult, firefighters find a way to be successful with it.

Once June comes Chief Dominick looks forward to spending weekday afternoons fishing and spending time with his family, free from distractions.

Chief Dominick's last day is June 21, with his retirement effective on June 22.

The city is not yet looking for a replacement.

MORE: Previous Onalaska Fire Coverage

Onalaska Fire Department

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