RACINE — Racine Firefighters Local 321, with a generous donation from the Racine Founders Rotary Club, is installing three life preserver stations on local beaches. The boxes, filled with life preservers of varying sizes, are being built by students at Racine Park High School.
Lt. Brian Turczynski with the Racine Fire Department Dive Team said after a summer like no other, he and his colleagues knew it was time to step up in a big way for their community.
"I've been on the city of Racine of 13 years and we get a handful of water-related emergencies every year, but to have four deaths in one year, it's pretty tough. It's pretty tough," Turczynski said. "A lot of our members have kids and children and for them to respond out here, we want to do more. We always want to do more. Just because we're off duty, our commitment to the city doesn't end."
One of the stations was placed on North Beach on Friday morning. North Beach will get an additional life preserver station, and the third will be placed on Zoo beach. In total, 150 life preservers were bought.
Diane Brooks was out swimming in Lake Michigan with her friend on Friday morning when the Racine firefighters placed the first box. She said when she was offered one, she didn't think twice about saying yes.
"I know it's a dangerous lake and I felt really self-assured to have a jacket. And I think I'll come back and if I come back I'll use a jacket again," Brooks said.
The life preserves are free to use, but you are asked to return them to the boxes once you're done swimming.