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Club donates coldwater rescue suits to Lyons FD



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January 28, 2014 | 11:12 AM
LYONS — Fire and ice.

Two things that fire departments have to deal with, because firefighters don’t just put out fires, they rescue people.

Firefighters at the town of Lyons Fire Department have taken training in cold water rescue, said Assistant Fire Chief David Blink.

The Lyons department recently added part of Honey Lake in Spring Prairie to their primary response area. And the department has long been responsible for a portion of Lake Ivanhoe and a substantial stretch of the White River.

Last spring, firefighters had to rescue capsized kayakers from the river’s still-chilly waters.

Cold water rescue requires special equipment, including suits that will keep the rescuers warm and safe. The bright orange suits are 100 percent buoyant, said Lyons Fire Lt. Andy Fincutter.

“You can go under, but you’ll pop back up,” he said.

And being made of neoprene, the suits retain heat and are waterproof. Rescue workers clad in these suits don’t have to worry about freezing or going under when rescuing persons who have gone through the ice.

The Lyons department bought two of the neoprene suits for $500 each. But having two more would improve the department’s cold water rescue response. Unfortunately, the funding was lacking.

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Enter the Sno-Bums, a local snowmobile club that knows what it’s like to be cold. Roy Monteith, club president, said the club donated $1,000 to the Lyons firefighters to buy two more of the cold-and-water-proof suits.

Club member Marty Baker said the 35-member club does an annual fundraiser, called the Chili Ride. The club then looks for a local group that needs the cash.

“We always try to do something for the community,” Baker said.

Sno-Bums trail-master Scott Doane said club members learned of the fire department’s need through friends they have on the department.

On Dec. 16, the club donated the cash to the fire department for the two additional suits.

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Doane said the club voted unanimously to make the donation for the two suits. Baker said a personal tragedy also had a hand on the club’s decision to make the donation.

Four years ago, the 7-year-old son of Baker’s nephew broke through the ice on the Fox River in Burlington and drowned.

Baker said the local emergency services did everything they could. Maybe if they had a little bit more equipment, or training, it might have made a difference, he said.

The Sno-Bums fundraiser this year is from noon to 5 p.m. Feb. 1, featuring a chili and hotdog lunch at Bobby Rockets, 6291 Hospital Road, town of Lyons. The event also features raffles and a silent auction.

According to Monteith, the Sno-Bums snowmobile club has been active for about 40 years.

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