The woman behind Get Fired Up for Safety
By Kris Rued-Clark
Without the dedication of one woman, Get Fired Up for Safety would probably not exist. The annual fire safety education event is held the second Sunday in October in the parking lots of several North Central Avenue businesses. For more than 12 years, Dar Wernberg has been the organizer and the glue that holds the event together. Indeed, had it not been for all her contacts, the first event may have never taken place.
Wernberg recalled of the event’s inception, “We wanted to do something to give to the community.”
The initial planning took place over lunch one summer afternoon. Wernberg works at Rose Bowl Lanes as the adult leagues coordinator and tournament director. That particular day Kris Leonhardt, one of the former owners of Rose Bowl Lanes, invited Wernberg to join her for lunch with Marshfield Culver’s owner Conroy Soik.
“We decided to do something to bring attention to firefighters and fire safety, to give people the chance to acknowledge not only local firefighters but all the surrounding townships, and we wanted to combine it with fire safety education for children,” said Wernberg.
At the time Soik expressed the hope of having a fire truck or an ambulance on display in the parking lot. Wernberg, who knew many area fire chiefs, began making phone calls.
“That first year we had 12 departments,” said Wernberg. “It just took off like a house afire.”
Over the years she has been pleased to see the area fire departments taking a more active role in providing demonstrations and activities to help educate children on fire safety. Downplaying her role, she said, “It’s not a lot of work for us on the committee to do, just organizing, and all the committee members are a big part of helping to organize the event. Marshfield’s Deputy Chief Ed Erickson has been on the committee since the beginning. The fire departments are in the schools the week before to educate about fire safety. They help tell the school kids about the event, and we put up posters.”
Wernberg and her husband Dale are crop farmers.
“Lots of hay, corn, soybeans, oats, wheat — lots of hard work,” said Wernberg. Their son helps with field work and shares some crops with them. When not busy working in the fields or at the lanes, Wernberg enjoys camping and is a happy grandmother of two. She is also an avid blood donor and volunteered for many years for the Red Cross Bloodmobile.
“I’m working on 17 gallons. More people should donate if they are able to,” added Wernberg.
All her planning and coordinating for the Get Fired Up for Safety committee pays off in many ways.
“It’s satisfying just to see the outcome, to see how many people come out. I love the parade, and I enjoy watching the kids, to see how they get excited looking at all the equipment,” said Wernberg.
When asked what is most rewarding of all, Wernberg replied, “I’m pleased to be part of something that is providing education for fire safety. If we save one life by providing this day, … well, how can you measure that?”