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Pike Township Fire Dept. bringing back dive rescue squad

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Dive teams can be a critical aspect to a fire department when water rescues are needed.

The Indianapolis Fire Department has been responding to water rescues in Pike Township, but not for much longer.

For the last year and a half, Pike Township Fire has been without its diving squad, but this week it officially restarted the program.

They took a break for program evaluation, safety training and equipment evaluation.

The dive team has been around for more than 25 years in Pike Township.

Firefighter Bill Krieger has been a Pike Township diver for 14 years.

“Firefighting in general is pretty challenging and I think it’s just another thing that gives us goals and things to achieve,” he said.

He believes having a dive team in this area in particular is critical for protecting the community.

“There’s a definite need in this discipline,” he said, “Pike Township has several hundred retention ponds. We have Eagle Creek, which is the largest municipal water source, I believe, in Indiana.”

While protecting the community, they also need to make sure they are protected.

Their dive gear is more durable than standard scuba gear.

Krieger wears a special, heavy-duty dry suit for protection from objects in murky lakes.

“This dry suit is probably what they dive at nuclear power plants with. It’s pretty rugged,” he said.

The divers also have masks with cables that allow them to talk with the support crews.

“To be able to communicate any struggles that we have, but also communicate needs that we may have underwater,” he said.

There are 20 divers like Krieger in the department.

“There is a small increase in pay for doing that, but mostly it’s just for the love of diving and for the community,” Pike Township Fire Department Division Chief of Special Operations Craig Vought said.

Vought hopes to grow the dive team now that it’s back in action.

New hires since 2014 haven’t had the opportunity to be divers until now.

“Several of those people have contacted me with interest of getting into the dive team,” he said.

And he also hopes to add to the equipment they use to make rescues on Indy’s far west side.

“We have two boats currently and we are looking to expand that,” Vought said.

The crews will have some more time in the Pike High School pool for training and then start more advanced training in Eagle Creek Reservoir next month.