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Firefighters work to earn fins

Scott Satterfield goes over a written examination completed by firefighters preparing to become public safety divers.

Scott Satterfield goes over a written examination completed by firefighters preparing to become public safety divers.

ALBANY, Ga. — The first group of rescue dive trainees met for classroom instruction Tuesday at the Albany Fire Department’s training facility on Honeysuckle Lane. While the full group of 30 or so firefighter volunteers will soon receive their baptism by water, the six on hand Tuesday were high and dry.

According to Scott Satterfield, an instructor with Adventure Dive Center on North Westover Boulevard, the team members have a ways to go before becoming fully certified as Public Safety Divers. Adventure Dive Center won a recent bid to provide AFD with scuba gear and training for it’s first-ever rescue dive team.

“It’s going to be from one to two years before we get there,” Satterfield said. “After the classroom preparation comes open water certification, then advanced, rescue and finally, public safety certification.”

Training is complicated by the availability of firefighter volunteers and their differing work schedules. Satterfield said firefighters work 24 hours on, then 48 hours off, but most have additional jobs. Training is catch-as-catch-can, with a single eight-hour session per week expected.

Officials say firefighters will begin training in a swimming pool in about two weeks, and outdoor water training at Vortex Springs in Florida after that.