Motorists traveling west on Highway 11, just east of Highway 120, are asked if they have what it takes to join the Town of Lyons Fire Department. (Photo by Jason Arndt)

Grant is used to help beef up volunteer ranks in Lyons

By Jason Arndt


Do you have what it takes?

That is the question presented on billboards in, and around, the Town of Lyons to recruit volunteer firefighters for the fire department.

The billboards, according to Town of Lyons Fire Chief Neal Lara, was made possible through an $80,000 federal grant awarded to the department in 2017.

The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant, otherwise known as SAFER, was awarded to more than 300 departments last year.

In Wisconsin, the Town of Lyons was one of just five recipients, according to the Federal Emergency Management website.

The other four were the cities of Watertown, Madison, Oak Creek and the Town of Cambridge Volunteer Fire Department.

SAFER grants are awarded to fire departments and national, state, local, tribal or territorial organizations that represent the interests of volunteer firefighters, according to FEMA.

The Town of Lyons department has 33 volunteer firefighters, but, Lara said, “50 would be ideal” to serve the area.

Geographic challenges

In the last decade, many area fire departments have experienced a drop in volunteers, according to Lara.

“Everybody has this problem and I’d say it really has declined over the past 10 years,” he said.

Additionally, the Town of Lyons faces another challenge – demographics.

Although more than 3,500 people live in the Township, Lara said the area has limited manufacturing businesses, which diminishes the pool of volunteers to serve the department.

“With Lyons, there is no real manufacturing or job base here,” said Lara.

The limited job base, meanwhile, hinders the Town of Lyons from having adequate volunteer coverage during weekday hours.

“From 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. is the hardest time to get people for calls,” he said.

To read the entire story pick up a copy of the Oct. 4 edition of the Burlington Standard Press.