With furnaces melting iron at temperatures ranging from 2,600 to 2,800 degrees, safety is paramount at Waupaca Foundry. For each foundry shift, a number of employees are trained to be members of the company’s First Responder Team and Emergency Response Team (ERT).
As members, they can provide aid on-site, whether it’s for an injured or ill co-worker or an environmental issue, until the local emergency medical technicians or local firefighters arrive.
For many Waupaca Foundry employees who go through the training, their offer of help doesn’t end at the company’s doors. Of the more than 200 employees company-wide who received the ERT or first responder training, more than 40 percent serve on their local emergency response teams.
That dedication — and Waupaca Foundry’s support of its employees who volunteer their safety services in their communities — earned the company a platinum recognition from the Amherst Fire District. Waupaca Foundry employees at the plants in Waupaca volunteer in both Waupaca and Portage counties
“All of our facilities are in small communities or rural areas, and the need for volunteers is high and we want to support our employees who take that on,” says Bryant Esch, the environmental coordinator for Waupaca Foundry. “At Waupaca Foundry, we want to be a good neighbor in the communities where we operate and supporting our employees’ volunteer efforts is a part of that.”
Waupaca Foundry allows employees to leave work when their beepers go off to respond to a local emergency and continues paying them while they are off-site, says Kirk Kallio, human resources manager.
“If the beeper goes off, they just tell their boss they have a call and then they can leave and help out,” he says. “Our associates are always willing to step up and do a little more to make up if someone is gone.”
Employees who join either Waupaca Foundry’s ERT or First Responder Team receive initial training and then attend additional training annually, Esch says. That’s in addition to any training they need for their volunteer efforts.
“We’ve seen a lot of synergy between the local communities and the company and this is one way we can help,” he adds.
Waupaca Foundry provides the same benefit — continuing to pay employees when they are called away from the worksite — at all its facilities. Besides Waupaca, the company has foundry operations in Marinette, Tell City, Ind., Etowah, Tenn., and Lawrenceville, Penn.
“It’s just part of who we are as a company that we extend this benefit,” Kallio says. “At Waupaca Foundry, we are very concerned about safety, which is why we spend so much time and training on it. We’re happy our employees are sharing their knowledge about safety and providing first-on-the-scene health care with the wider community.”
While Waupaca Foundry received the award, Esch says the volunteer firefighters and first responders are the real heroes.
“We’ve had some people doing this for 20 years. Volunteering for these jobs can be a heavy inconvenience — they have to go when the beeper goes off, so their dinner may go cold, their work on a project is interrupted or they lose time with their families,” he says. “We’re thankful for the employees who have stepped up.”