Duluth Firefighters Use Unstable Ice, Open Waters For Rescue Training

DULUTH, Minn. – The unstable ice and open waters are creating great conditions for the Duluth Fire Department to train for possible rescues this winter.

Firefighters hopped in their rescue suits Tuesday to take advantage of the dicey conditions in a slip in the Duluth Port.

Officials said this type of training is crucial to react fast to emergencies on the ice, especially when ice breaks away with a lot of anglers stranded.

Fire Capt. Ben Johnson said new and seasoned anglers should always check the ice thickness, go out with at least one other person and especially invest in flotation gear.

“Many people that are getting into ice fisherman are spending hundreds of dollars on Vexilars and augers and other equipment – spending that extra three, four hundred dollars on a good flotation suit that you use for ice fishing can make a difference if you do go through,” said Capt. Ben Johnson, with the Duluth Fire Department.

Duluth has seen its fair share of ice emergencies over the years — even with the most experienced.

The most recent big rescue happened in February when dozens of anglers got trapped on drifting ice after a big chunk broke free from the main flow. Everybody was eventually rescued safely.

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