March 13, 2009

News Release

For Immediate Release

Fire Department Discontinuing Dive Recovery

The Springfield Fire Department is discontinuing the Dive Recovery portion of its Water Rescue Program effective immediately. The Department will continue to provide swift water rescue as it has in the past.

The program, which was put in place during the 1980s, has not been a factor in any life saving events, yet it puts those responders who dive at elevated levels of risk when working in a recovery mode. Since January 2004, Water Rescue personnel have responded to five recoveries. These have usually been for vehicles in the lakes and rivers around Springfield. One vehicle recovery operation nearly resulted in a tragic outcome when a member of the team required treatment in a hyperbaric chamber following an emergency ascent to the surface.

The Missouri Water Patrol currently provides dive recovery for the State of Missouri. Within the southwest Missouri area, the Western Taney County Fire Protection District performs dive recovery with its water rescue team. Contract salvage divers are available and are currently in use by City Utilities for its lake system.

While safety and a risk versus reward analysis are the main reasons for the change, there is also a significant cost associated with ongoing certification training and equipment testing to support the operations.

For more information, contact: Assistant Chief David Hall, (417) 864-1500.

city of springfield fire

Springfield Fire Department

830 Boonville Ave., P.O. Box 8368, Springfield, MO 65801
417-864-1500 • FAX: 417-864-1505 • springfieldmo.gov/fire