Four have suited up and are making a splash as new participants of a regional dive team that also includes the towns of Easton, Norton and North Attleboro.
Firefighters Dave Ventura, John Casali, Mike Maitland and Greg Luther, all who have open water certification, have joined the regional team. They recently trained with some of their neighboring firefighters at Attleboro High School's pool and Talaquega Lake.
The decision to include Attleboro in the regional effort came after North Attleboro Fire Chief Peter Lamb asked Attleboro Chief Scott Lachance to use the pool at for training. Lamb then called Lachance on another occasion to use a room at the South Attleboro station for classroom training.
Extra Service to the Community
"I like regional teams because they provide an extra service to the community; we get extra training from it and the firefighters like it," said Chief Lachance. "For me, because they are an established organization and because we would be supported by grant money for the training, it was an easy decision to piggyback Attleboro."
Attleboro has more than 20 ponds not counting streams and rivers, according to Lachance. And for that reason, Lachance said he sees the training as a benefit to the community, especially during the summer and winter months when the need is greatest.
"We have used their dive team here in Attleboro before with the drownings at the reservoir," Lachance said. "Some times it's not search and rescue, it is a body recovery (mission)."
Asked about his men's reaction to joining the dive team, spearheaded by Norton Fire Chief Paul Schleicher, Lachance said: "They loved it. They were thrilled to do it, thrilled that they were selected to be part of the regional team and to take the second phase of the training."
The first part of the training was in the pool at and a pond in North Attleboro. Additional night dive training is slated for a later time. As part of it they did diving in the pool and pond in North Attleboro.
Collaboration and Cooperation
While a regional team makes sense from a collaborative standpoint, it also makes sense financially, according to Lachance.
The more than $100,000 in grant money funneled through the Department of Homeland Security comes through the Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District (SRPEDD).
The point is to include Attleboro in the next round of grant funding, according to Lachance, who said his four men are currently "shore people." If the department receives the necessary funding it needs it can purchase the necessary dive gear needed. The existing grant is for personnel expenses-training.
"If I had to purchase equipment it would be out of our budget or through a request for additional funding," Lachance said. "We’ll try to start with less expensive stuff.
"The benefit, when this is all in place and my guys have certification and equipment, is that it gives us better training and equipment," he added.
Benefit to All
"Some would say if Norton has those capabilities why does Attleboro need it," Lachance said. "The reason is, some day they may not."
And, the team could also be utilized for other services, including getting to a deep water valve for the Attleboro Water Department, according to Lachance.
"It’s a benefit for everybody," he said.