Firemen take the plunge
Jacksboro Fire Department will soon offer a new service. Five firefighters — Zach Searcy, Jason Jennings, Russell Pippin, John Moffit and Winfield Maxwell, are learning to scuba dive.
The divers will be able to recover lost items underwater as well as search for missing persons.
Fire Chief Jeremy Jennings said the department has utilized a dive team about once a twice per year in the 12 years he has served in Jacksboro.
“We used them for cars, vehicles, lost items and once or twice for missing persons,” he said.
He said divers are also on standby during the annual boat races at Lake Jacksboro. They will also be able to use the skills they learn in flooding situations.
Two volunteers with the department, County Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jim Richardson and Thomas Cox, are already certified.
The other five will dive this weekend at Glen Rose’s Wheeler Branch Park to receive their basic open water certification.
They are being trained Kyle Omberg of Fire Fight Underwater Recovery.
The cost of the training open water training and advanced open water training is $2,500 which Jennings said is funded from the JFD’s training budget. The department is currently borrowing equipment for the training, but hopes to purchase six sets of dive gear for $5,500.
“This will add to the services we already provide,” Jennings said. “In the past, we’ve had to call Graham Fire Department’s dive team to come out. We’ll also be able to help out in the region. Most people use the DPS team which comes out of Lubbock.”
Omberg said to receive a public safety diver certification, the firefighters will need to complete several more classes including rescue diving, full face mask certification which allows for better underwater communication, dry suit diving for diving in hazardous materials.
There is also wreck diving and search and recovery. Then public safety diving which is one certification higher than master scuba diver.
The cost to reach the public safety diving certification depending on the number of specialized classes a department takes costs between $3,000 and $4,000 per diver.
Because the Jacksboro team members are public safety officers, Omberg said he begins training them with public safety hand and arm signals and underwater communication techniques in the basic open water training.