Twin Cities fire department launches free life jacket loaner program

To date in 2022, there have been at least six drowning deaths in Minnesota. Now, fire officials in Maple Grove are taking steps to prevent anyone else from losing their life on the water.

Last week, the Maple Grove Fire Department unveiled two free "Flotation Stations" on Weaver Lake that are stocked with life jackets. They are located at the main boat launch and near the Weaver Lake Community Park. The life jackets range in size from adult to infant.

"I think it's getting ahead of the problem. If anybody comes out and forgot their life jacket or something, it's right there," Shawn Heinzen of Maple Grove told FOX 9.

Drowning is a leading cause of death for young children, and that's why Fire Education Specialist Jeremy Berger wanted to bring the program to the city, which has seen its share of close calls.

"I wanted to try and bring it here to Weaver Lake to try and prevent some possible drownings," Berger said.

Last July, four young people with only two life jackets had to be rescued on Weaver Lake after their paddle boat began to drift away. In that case, a nearby neighbor jumped into action to help save the group.

With the life jacket stations, Berger hopes to prevent drownings by providing people with free access to this life-saving tool.

The life jacket loaner program was made possible through a partnership with North Memorial Health Hospital and the Ellison Family Charitable Trust,