Franklin Township Volunteer Fire Company has been issued a certificate of recognition from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Office of the State Fire Commissioner for the successful completion of Swiftwater Rescue. The classes were offered the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and Bucks County.
Although there was no fee for firefighters to attend classes, the firefighters paid their own expenses to travel to the classes.
"We decided to get the accreditation because of the large bodies of water in the area," said Justin Smith, Franklin Township firefighter. "We have Beltzville Lake, the Lehigh River and the Lehigh Canal in our service area and we also have a lot of farmers in the area who have ponds."
Firefighters are trained to respond with all types of water rescues except for diving.
Franklin Township fire fighters service approximately 14.2 square miles for fire fighting, plus they also respond to vehicle accidents, searches, natural disasters, flood evacuations and other types of emergencies.
Smith said that Franklin Township Volunteer Fire Company is the first fire company to be certified for Swiftwater Rescue in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Firefighters logged 512 hours to receive the training, which took over two years to complete.
Firefighters have also received Haz Mat Operations training and have completed NIMS 700, 100 and 200, which is a unified company system training.
They are also trained in Water Rescue First Responder, Ice Rescue and Advanced Line Systems. Firefighters have also trained in Helicopter Safety Awareness, and CPR.
The accreditation is effective for three years. In order to continue the accreditation, fire fighters must continue to demonstrate good swimming techniques and show they have maintained their skill level each year.
"There is little expense to the fire company for our training," said Tom Chew. "We receive the bulk of our donations from organizations and businesses."
Chew said that Franklin Township Lions Club, Beltzville Manor Marine, Crusaders for a Cause and Pocono Whitewater Rafting supported the fire company for the accreditation and training.
Smith said that there are four different accreditations and that Franklin Township Fire Company is 3A accreditation. To receive a higher ranking, the fire company will have to acquire a power boat.