The Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) Foundation is celebrating a memorable milestone in improving lifesaving efforts across northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The foundation is awarding a record $80,000 to local first responders through its 10th annual Rewarding Responders Grant program.

“It is our honor to support the brave men and women making our communities safer places for everyone over the past 10 years,” said Beth Straka, president — WPS Foundation. “This program’s true reward lies in what doesn’t happen — the lives that remain unchanged, the moments we never have to remember — because our first responders had the lifesaving tools needed to make a difference.”

A decade of donations toward a brighter future

The Rewarding Responders Grant program is one of the many ways WPS makes the safety of its employees and communities a critical focus every day.

Including this year’s grants, the WPS Foundation has now awarded more than $500,000 to police, fire and emergency medical services agencies through this important program. Its grants have provided critical equipment and training to departments from Eagle River to Sheboygan, helping their members enhance public safety in their communities.

This year’s grant recipients include the Green Bay Metro Fire Department, Eagle River Police Department and South Area Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) District. The Green Bay Metro Fire Department is using its grant to install life preserver rings around area waterways, while the Eagle River Police Department is purchasing an aerial drone through its grant. SAFER District is using its grant to purchase two new multi-gas detection units. The agencies received their grants during unveiling ceremonies August 28-31.

“The Green Bay Metro Fire Department is proud of the support from the WPS Foundation to help us install throwable water rescue life rings in four locations along our waterways,” said Matthew Knott, fire chief — Green Bay Metro Fire Department. “These rings and our ongoing outreach efforts will certainly make our community a safer place.”

“This grant is a great reward to smaller agencies such as ours, as we may have to otherwise avoid purchasing beneficial equipment to stay within our budget,” said Adam Ross, sergeant — Eagle River Police Department. “Community partnership is huge, especially in a small town. Without grants and community and industry support, we would not have the budget for many of our projects that expand our services and capabilities.”

“These meters keep the public and our responders safe, as they give us early warning when carbon monoxide and other harmful gases may be present,” said Eric Lang, deputy chief — SAFER District. “The funds from the WPS Foundation will allow us to purchase this vital equipment and offset the tax money we would otherwise request for these purchases.”

Improving safety with important tools

The 2023 grant recipients are:

  • Almond Village and Town Fire Department — Multi-gas detector
  • Town of Antigo Fire Department — Multi-gas detector
  • Ashwaubenon Public Safety Department — Carbon monoxide gas monitor
  • Brazeau Fire Department — Emergency scene lighting
  • Brussels-Union-Gardner Fire Department — Emergency scene safety equipment
  • Calumet County Emergency Management — Automated external defibrillator (AED)
  • Collins Volunteer Fire Department — AED
  • Crandon Area Rescue Squad — Child safety harnesses for ambulances
  • Critical Care Services Inc. — Medication infusion pump
  • Denmark Volunteer Fire Department — AED
  • Eagle River Police Department — Aerial drone
  • Easton Volunteer Fire Department —Air flow control curtain
  • Edgar Volunteer Fire Department — Multi-gas detector
  • Greenleaf Volunteer Fire Department — Active shooter protective equipment
  • Green Bay Metro Fire Department — Life preserver rings
  • Hiles Volunteer Fire Department — Emergency vehicle safety equipment
  • Kewaunee Fire Department — Thermal imaging camera
  • Kiel Fire Department Emergency medical response equipment
  • Langlade County Sheriff’s Office — Staff wellness initiative
  • Marathon City EMS — Training equipment upgrades
  • Marinette County Sheriff’s Office — Vehicle speed detection equipment
  • Marinette Fire Department  Protective firefighting gloves
  • Menominee Fire Department — Emergency scene safety lighting
  • Merrill Fire Department — Automated external defibrillator (AED)
  • Minocqua Fire Department — Emergency alert pagers
  • New Franken Fire Department — Fire hydrant valve and fire hose
  • New Holstein Volunteer Fire Department — Wearable safety lights
  • Town of Peshtigo Fire Department — Protective firefighting gloves
  • Pine Lake Fire Department — Automated external defibrillator (AED)
  • Plover Fire and EMS Department — Structural firefighting helmets
  • SAFER District — Multi-gas detectors
  • Sheboygan Falls Fire Department — Rope rescue safety devices
  • Stella Piehl Volunteer Fire Department — Scene and life flight safety lighting
  • Stevens Point Fire Department — Emergency building access equipment
  • Sturgeon Bay Fire Department — Heavy-duty rescue equipment mounts
  • Suamico Fire Department — Confined space rescue equipment
  • Two Rivers Police Department — Police bike
  • University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Police Department — Behavioral interview and intervention training for officers
  • Waupaca Police Department — Emergency scene lighting
  • Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office — Personal protective equipment for deputies
  • Wolf River Volunteer Fire Department — Missing person search and rescue training
  • Wrightstown Fire Department — Cold water rescue suits
Grants impact safety across Wisconsin

The WPS Foundation created its Rewarding Responders Grant program in 2014 as part of its longstanding commitment to support public safety efforts. During that time, the grants have helped 202 individual agencies purchase critical equipment or vital training to strengthen safety in their communities.

Eligible emergency response agencies can apply for up to $2,000 in funding through the annual grant program. Agencies may receive a grant if they:

  • Operate in the WPS service area.
  • Did not receive a grant during the previous year.
  • 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