The Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) Foundation is giving everyday heroes help in keeping their communities safe. The foundation is awarding $50,000 to help 27 public safety agencies across northeast and north central Wisconsin purchase lifesaving equipment. The funding is part of the WPS Foundation’s Rewarding Responders Grant program.

“We are proud to support the brave individuals who work tirelessly to create a brighter future for our communities,” said Beth Straka, president — WPS Foundation. “Our first responders race toward danger and distress, putting others’ safety ahead of their own lives every day. We’re honored to help provide these vital tools to keep everyone safe.”

Donations that make an invaluable impact

Since 2014, the WPS Foundation has donated more than $450,000 through its Rewarding Responders Grant program. The grants have helped 255 police, fire and emergency medical services (EMS) departments improve public safety across northeast and north central Wisconsin.

This year’s recipients include the Merrill Police Department, which is using its grant to purchase new thermal imaging cameras and binoculars. The Hobart-Lawrence Police Department also received a grant to help purchase a new safe detection system for hazardous substances.

“This grant has a double impact, starting with allowing us to acquire the tangible equipment so we can fulfill our roles better,” said Corey Bennett, police chief — Merrill Police Department. “It also means others value what our role is and have taken special care to partner with not just our agency, but others throughout the state, in support of our mission. This grant demonstrates that the WPS Foundation truly cares about public safety and first responders.”

“This partnership with the WPS Foundation allows us to continue providing a high-quality policing service to our communities by providing a sense of safety in dealing with dangerous substances,” said Michael Renkas, captain — Hobart-Lawrence Police Department. “The support from the WPS Foundation and other community partners is incredibly humbling for us, and shows their appreciation for our organization.”

Improving safety with important tools

The 2022 grant recipients include:

  • Antigo Fire Department — Multi-gas detector
  • Clayton Fire Rescue — Multi-gas detectors
  • Crandon Fire Department — Vehicle extrication tools
  • Crivitz Rescue Squad — EMS training mannequins
  • Crooked Lake Volunteer Fire Department — Portable two-way radios
  • Elkhart Lake Volunteer Fire Department — Thermal imaging camera
  • Emergency Rescue Squad, Inc. (Marinette) — First responder EMS bags
  • Gibraltar Fire Rescue — Open water rescue training
  • Greenbush Fire Department — Multi-gas detector
  • Hatley Area Fire and Ambulance District — Mobile stair lift
  • Hobart-Lawrence Police Department — Safe detection system for hazardous substances
  • Laona Volunteer Fire Department — Firefighter training courses
  • Little Rice Fire Department — Thermal imaging camera
  • Manitowoc Fire Rescue Department — Scene safety lighting
  • Merrill Police Department — Thermal imaging cameras and binoculars
  • Middle Inlet Fire Department — Lighted traffic safety vests
  • Mosinee Fire District — Protective gloves, hoods and helmet flashlights for firefighters
  • Peshtigo Police Department — Night vision goggles
  • Portage County Sheriff’s Office — Thermal imaging camera
  • Pulaski Police Department — Tire deflation devices for roadway safety
  • Reedsville Fire Department — Multi-gas detector
  • Rockwood Fire Department — Protective extrication gloves
  • Stockton Fire Department — Multi-gas detector calibration kit
  • Sugar Camp Fire Department — Heavy-duty smoke ventilation fan
  • Town of Hewitt Volunteer Fire Department — Protective firefighting clothing
  • Town of Oshkosh Fire Department — Thermal imaging camera

The WPS Foundation offers its Rewarding Responders Grant annually to enhance public safety. Eligible emergency response agencies can apply for up to $2,000 in funding. Agencies may receive a grant if they:

  • Operate in the WPS service area.
  • Complete an online grant application.
  • Demonstrate the equipment or training they will acquire is part of a well-planned effort to improve public safety. Grants also may be put toward unique, safety-related projects that are one-time efforts.

Learn more about the grant.