6 months later: Sun Prairie Fire Department focuses on employees after deadly explosion

6 months later: Sun Prairie Fire Department focuses on employees after deadly explosion

Sun Prairie’s fire Chief Christopher Garrison talked with News 3 This Morning about how the city is rebuilding six months after a fatal explosion that killed one of its firefighters.

Garrison said the department is doing well and that they are moving forward.

“We’re a very strong organization,” Garrison said. “We’re very family-focused and family-centered, and through that and through each other we build strength. We move forward. We have a job to do and everybody understands that and that’s what Cory would like.”

Sun Prairie fire Capt. Cory Barr was killed while responding to a gas leak that resulted in the explosion that leveled part of downtown Sun Prairie. Barr and his fellow firefighters saved many lives by evacuating the area before the explosion.

Garrison said the focus of the department after the explosion has been its employees.

“The biggest thing is employee strength. It’s made us understand that and this goes for any corporation or company that’s been through a tragedy. I guess you have to understand where your employees are and what you need to do for them to help them move forward,” Garrison said. “That is one of the things that we’ve discovered, that we had a weakness in our employee assistance program and through the strength of our organization, we were able to put it together really fast and give our people an opportunity to talk and walk through it.”

Garrison said the explosion is not something you can put behind you and forget about.

“You need to talk about it because if you keep it inside, it’s difficult,” he said.

Garrison said Rep. Gary Hebl, D-Sun Prairie, is putting tighter some legislation that would implement stricter laws for contractors that would require them to double check things and improve communication between companies that are doing the work.

“There are gas leaks every day across the country and this one went bad,” Garrison said. “We don’t want that to happen to anybody else. So I think the biggest issue that I would really like to promote is getting behind Gary. Help make these laws so another fire department doesn’t have to go through this and another family doesn’t have to go through it.”

Sun Prairie’s chief of police Patrick Anhalt announced last month that there will not be criminal charges pressed in connection to the deadly explosion.

Barr’s widow and two other firefighters who were injured in the explosion have filed civil lawsuits against the companies involved.

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