The Charleston Fire Department Water Rescue Team is trained in mitigating both dive rescue and swiftwater rescue emergencies. The team consists of approximately 30 personnel, with 8-10 members assigned to each shift. The team has the capability to have rescuers in the water for most water rescue emergencies within city limits in approximately five to ten minutes of dispatch. The team members perticipate in year round training that includes; dive rescue, swiftwater rescue, rope rescue, ice rescue, limited visibility diving, boat operations and other various specialties.
The Water Rescue Team has a support vehicle, known as Water Rescue 414 that runs out of Station 1. The vehicle carries four sets of complete diving gear with additional tanks and all of the support equipment for a surface or dive rescue. Rescue 481, which runs out of Station 1, also carries two complete sets of dive gear and is staffed around the clock by team members. The team also has two watercraft that support their operations, Boat 411 and Boat 413.
The departments main fireboat, Boat 411, is deployed to all fires and emergencies on the Elk and Kanawha Rivers. It is powered by dual Honda 225hp outboard engines and equipped with a 1,000GPM fire pump. Boat 411 is maintained and staffed by the crew of Engine 453. Boat 413, housed at Station 2, is a mini-snout which is deployed to flood and swiftwater emergencies.
The Charleston Fire Department has standardized the swiftwater and dive gear used by its personnel. Personal gear is not permitted to be used while on duty. The Team is using Viking Pro Turbo dry suits, the Interspiro AGA full-face mask, and Ocean Technology Systems Mark 7 hard wire communications. All buoyancy compensators (BC’s), regulators, and gauges are manufactured by Sherwood.