A risky winter tradition has begun

As more venture out onto the ice, those at the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office expect rescue calls to start rolling in.

“We don’t really condone anyone being out on the ice because the ice can never be deemed completely safe,” said Patrol Captain Todd Christie.

The DNR says the ice needs to be at least four inches thick to walk on, and it needs to be at least five inches thick to travel by snowmobile or ATV.

If you do unfortunately find yourself in the water this winter, the cost of the rescue could come out of your own pocket.

“Winnebago County enacted an ordinance for unnecessary rescues,” Christie explained. “If the average person would say the location you’re in, you’re out late at night and it’s deemed the average citizen wouldn’t have done that, and it’s an unnecessary rescue, and cost taxpayers money for law enforcement to respond, those costs can be reimbursed through this process and the individual rescued may have to pay.”

However if you do have to foot the bill, Christie says there is an appeal process.

Authorities warn people to check with the local fishing clubs about conditions, and then decide whether you should head out.




Firefighters are warning people, to be alert for changing ice conditions.

Many departments are also preparing equipment and conducting practice drills.

As temperatures drop, the crowd of fishermen on Lake Winnebago is expected to rise, even as firefighters survey conditions from the shoreline- as they prepare equipment for the possibility of a busy winter.

“There’s always a hazard when you go out onto the ice. Weather conditions, changing temperatures, just different thicknesses, a lot of factors come into play that cause us a lot of concern, this time of the year,” said Chief Al Auxier, of the Neenah-Menasha Fire Dept.

On January 23rd Neenah-Menasha firefighters plan to hold an ice safety presentation- to better educate the public.

Last winter- the department established a dive team, although an active fund raising effort is still underway, to cover the start up cost of 90 thousand dollars.

Dive team member¬†Chris Ederer, said,¬†“Speed is everything. If we can get to the victim, fast enough, we can possibly revive the victim. The faster you get to them, the better off they might be.”

So far firefighters in Neenah- Menasha haven’t responded to any ice rescue calls, but it’s a situation that could dramatically change, with the slightest warm up.

Which is why every effort is being made to inspect equipment, and conduct life like training drills.

Auxier said, “Mother nature has a big part in this, as to how things go, as far as how much ice is out there, to make it somewhat safe for people venture out on the lake. People with more experience, are going to be a little more successful and hopefully the people that don’t have much experience, will stay off the ice.”




Firefighters Prepare for Ice Danger – WBAY.