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Fire Department Ends Dive Recovery Service

Citing budget and safety concerns, the Springfield Fire Department says it’s ending the dive recovery portion of its water rescue program. KSMU's Jennifer Moore reports.

The decision is effective immediately.

Assistant Fire Chief David Hall said since the city is facing a tight budget, the dive recovery program, like others, has been under scrutiny for some time.

“So, as part of the evaluation, we looked at what are the real risks, and what are the real benefits we’ve gotten. And while we have done some recovery-type diving, we’ve never had where we’ve saved a life through these particular events of the dive rescue,” Hall said.

Hall said it costs the city over 12,000 dollars to train each diver, and the city also pays for the maintenance and annual inspection of the diving equipment.

He added that the decision to end the dive recovery service was not based solely on money; there was also a safety concern for the firefighters who go underwater in search of missing people.

“We’ve had a couple of instances where we’ve had firefighters that had close calls doing this. It is an extremely dangerous operation, even on just strictly recovery-types,” Hall said.

The Springfield Fire Department will continue to provide swift water rescues for people caught in flash floods. However, if someone were to go missing in a body of water in Greene County, the department would now have to call the Missouri Water Patrol, or the Western Taney County Fire Protection District, which does have a dive recovery team.

Hall acknowledged that it would take longer for them to arrive on the scene.

The Springfield Fire Department has responded to five recoveries in as many years. Several of those recoveries have been for vehicles in nearby lakes or rivers.

For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Moore.