Potential Last Winter For USCG Station Frankfort, Local First Responders React

For months now the U.S. Coast Guard Station Frankfort has been playing the waiting game trying to figure out if they will be around next winter.

The Coast Guard’s National Headquarters is considering making the station seasonal, open only in the summer.

Station Frankfort is in Benzie County, but also covers parts of Manistee and Leelanau County.

The station says seasonal has been a thought for years but was just made public in the spring.

The change still hasn’t been approved and if it is, they won’t know when it would start.

The soonest would be next winter.               

Nine and ten’s Megan Woods has details on what everyone’s doing in the meantime.

“We don’t get many calls at all in the winter,”

One of the main reasons U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters is considering whether to seasonalize Station Frankfort says Chief Joe Baxter, Officer in Charge.

 “If this plan is approved my crew would transition down to Manistee so it’s basically just centralizing the command from three individual commands to one centralized command.”

The announcement went public in the spring.

Since then, the coast guard hasn’t made an official decision.

But Chief Baxter says he’s all for it, and as much as they want answers they understand they have to wait.

“There’s a normal process we don’t want to make a rushed positions we want everyone that needs to weigh in on it weighs in on it so when the decision is made there’s some consensus and so that takes time.”

Local first responders aren’t taking any chances.

It takes five to six people to do an ice rescue and if station Frankfort leaves in the winter they lose that extra help.

Director of Benzie County EMS, Craig Johnson says, “It’s more about response and they’re a part of our whole response team and so it was how are we going to fill that void.”

That’s why they’re taking action and trying to get even more first responder’s ice rescue certified. Saturday and Sunday they plan on have a training.

Johnson says, “To fill that void we’ve gone to a county wide ice rescue team. Instead of just having the department in the jurisdiction where the emergency happened there may be two or three different departments that may get toned.”

Regardless of the decision, the coast guard will still be around for the busy summer season.