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Jefferson Hills VFD Swift Water Team Completes Training

Borough Firefighters Become Trained in Swift Water Rescue

By Andrew Tomer, Chief/Emergency Management Coordinator

Jefferson Hills Volunteer Fire Department 

   It’s no secret that the weather patterns seem to have shifted resulting in excessive amounts of precipitation in the Pittsburgh area. In July of 2018, heavy rains resulted in multiple people being trapped in flood waters throughout Jefferson Hills and the rest of the region. As a result, the Jefferson Hills Volunteer Fire Department recognized the need for an established and well-trained swift water rescue team. 

   Jefferson Hills Borough Council understood the need and provided funding to purchase swift water rescue equipment: dry suits, life vests, a swift water rescue boat and trailer, and other miscellaneous equipment.  Jefferson Hills fire fighter began their training last August with Water Rescue Awareness. Ten members completed the 68 hours of training which includes: Water Rescue Emergency Response, Emergency Boat Operations Responder, Advanced Line System Rescue, and Ice Rescue and Emergency Response. With the addition of the ten trained water rescue technicians and --Andrew Tomer, Stacey Tomer, Brian Chalfant, Justin Allan, Chase Bendick, Ryan Hess, Anthony Lewis, Dylan Clark, Michael Toth, Sean Dornin-- the Jefferson Hills Volunteer Fire Department now has twelve water rescue technicians. Swift water rescue team members who were previously trained are Edward Parker and Alan Rowe.

    While the Jefferson Hills Volunteer Fire Department is committed to preserving life and property for all residents and visitors to our community, the first step in flood safety starts with you. It is important to remember that flash flooding can happen within minutes or hours of heavy rainfall.  Flashfloods can move homes and cars, uproot trees, and cause significant damage in local infrastructure.  Most of all flash flood fatalities are vehicle related. Six inches of water can stall a vehicle, and one foot of moving water can sweep away most cars, trucks, and SUV’s.  

Additional Water Safety Tips

=        Do not walk in water that is up to your ankles, moving water can sweep you off your feet.

=        Avoid low lying areas during heavy rains such as underground parking garages and basements.

=       “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” do not attempt to drive through standing or moving water.

Stay off bridges as fast-moving water can move or damage bridges

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