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SCFD members submerge into dive training

Members of the South Charleston Fire Department reached new heights in training at new depths recently.

On Sept. 4, eight of the SCFD firefighters traveled to Ridgewood Pool in South Charleston for their latest periodic session of dive training they undergo, underwater, to prepare for potential aquatic rescues.

“We try out to get out to a pool every three months,” SCFD Lt. Charlie Wilson said of the simulated rescue training. “As firefighters, we do rescue diving, mainly, which usually means looking for a car or a body in the water.

“There are some techniques we work on at the pool, as far as searching,” Wilson said. “It’s an opportunity for some guys who are a little bit new with the department who have their diving certifications but have never done diving while wearing a drysuit.”

Wilson explained that the drysuits are worn primarily in the winter to counter cold water temperatures during their rescue calls.

“It does do a good job keeping you warmer,” he said. “When it’s 30 or 40 degrees in the water, you don’t want to be in there with a regular wetsuit on. It’s for getting used to them, and some of the guys have worn them before and help.”

The dive training also enables the firefighters to become accustomed to the equipment they wear and use and, for some of them, refresh their underwater skills from previous sessions.

“We put the bottles [air tanks] on them,” Wilson said, “and the masks we use, we can, actually, attach to a communications system. They can have a conversation with the guys on the surface.

“You can’t do a lot in a pool, but they can get underwater and get used to the equipment.”

The dive training also helps the SCFD members make sure their equipment is in working order for emergency call responses, he said.

During last week’s training, “we found a few bottles that needed some minor fixing,” Wilson said. “They do more sitting than being used and, like other things tend to do when they’re not used for a while, they tend to dry out a little bit.”

Wilson said the firefighters worked in the water for about two hours at the Ridgewood Road pool.

“It’s enough time for them to get a feel for the equipment,” he said. “They get to do the easy stuff in the pool, so if they do have to get out into the river, they can be more comfortable. Especially in the Kanawha River, the visibility is just about zero and you’re doing almost everything by feel, so feeling comfortable is a major step in that direction.”

Metro reporter Clint Thomas can be reached at or by calling 304-348-1232.

Funerals for Saturday, September 21, 2019

Abodeely, Malakee - 11 a.m., St. George Orthodox Cathedral, Charleston. 

Ayers, Helen - 11 a.m., Belcher Family Cemetery, Pinch Ridge.

Backus, Ernest - 2 p.m., First Baptist Church of Rainelle.

Bailey, Jerry - 5 p.m., Chapman Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Carney Jr., Chester - 2 p.m., Cunningham-Parker-Johnson Funeral Home, Charleston.

Carter, Blanche - 11 a.m., Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, North Elkview.

Copen, Louise - Noon, McRoss Baptist Church, McRoss.

Fizer, Donna - 3 p.m., Hafer Funeral Home, Elkview.

Fowler, Jeannette - 1 p.m., Casto Funeral Home, Evans.

Goard II, Mitchell - 5 p.m., Central Community Tabernacle, Charleston.

Hammack, Barbara - 2 p.m., Tyler Mountain Memory Gardens, Cross Lanes.

Kessinger, Wilma - 4 p.m., Canaan Baptist Church, Charleston.

Knight II, James - 6 p.m., Casto Funeral Home, Evans.

Lymon, Daniel - 1 p.m., Grace Bible Church, Charleston.

McKown, Travis - Noon, Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, Wallback.

Miller, Alexander - 4 p.m., Roane County High School, Spencer.

Mitchell, Emma - 2 p.m., Calvary Baptist Church, Hurricane.

Montgomery, Betty - 11 a.m., Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Charleston.

Pfeil, Ruth - 2 p.m., Gatens-Harding Funeral Home Chapel, Poca.

Roush III, George - 12:30 p.m., Tyler Mountain Funeral Home, Cross Lanes.

Samuels, Hazel - 1:30 p.m., Dunbar Kingdom Hall, Dunbar.

Slonaker II, Harvey - Noon, Curry Funeral Home, Alum Creek.

Starks, Henry - 11 a.m., Lantz Funeral Home, Buckeye.

Stooke, David - Noon, Henson & Kitchen Mortuary, Huntington.

Thompson, Thomas - 2 p.m., Tyree Funeral Home, Mount Hope.

White, Duane - 1 p.m., Evans Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Chapmanville.

White, James - 1 p.m., Cedar Grove Middle School, Cedar Grove.

Woodson Jr., Lewis - 1 p.m., Abundant Life Ministries, Charleston.