CFD and Respect Our Rivers asks citizens to return loaner life jackets after each use

Published: Jun. 15, 2022 at 6:42 PM CDT
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CASPER, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - The Casper Fire Department and Respect Our Rivers organization have been teamed up since 2014 to help ensure safety on the North Platte. They have done this by offering free loaner life jackets at stations along the river in Casper. These jackets may have saved countless people from drowning since they have been offered but over the years hundreds of these jackets have been taken and not returned.

CFD Deputy Chief Devin Garvin and Fire Captain Jennifer Henderson spoke about the issue saying, “So far this year we’re already down about 57 life jackets and that’s only a few weeks into the season. It seems like, kind of, historically we lose about 250 per year. This has been a situation, or an issue that we’ve had every year. Last year towards the end of the season we actually had to go purchase another 170 life jackets.”

The fire department has been receiving life jacket donations from citizens around Natrona County to try and combat the issue. Each fire station in Casper accepts donations of life jackets and a few even have specific “Duck Boxes” which are large wooden boxes where folks can drop off functioning life jackets to be loaned out. The Fire Department and Respect Our Rivers wants to remind folks who would like to donate that the jackets must be a vest style and have Coast Guard approval.

When asked about the importance of the free life jacket stations Fire Captain Henderson said, “They’re important because that river is a lot stronger than I think people think. They think it looks nice and calm and that it looks like a wading pool or a little swimming area, and what people don’t know is that there’s huge drops in there that are 15 feet deep and that you can’t beat the hydraulics of the river.”

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