Members of the Albany Fire Department’s rescue and recovery dive team assist Albany police with finding property. (Staff Photo: Jim West)
ALBANY — The Albany Fire Department’s new rescue and recovery dive team had an opportunity to practice their skills Thursday while assisting the Albany Police Department.
Police officials say tips were received recently concerning the location of property which may be stolen. To retrieve the property would mean retrieval from the muddy bottom of the Flint River.
By the time the mission had ended for the day, two AFD divers retrieved five suspicious articles, fire officials say, in dives at the Marine Corps canal leading to the Flint. At least three of them were sections of a business cash register system.
“This is a good opportunity to let citizens know how important tip information can be,” said Phyllis Banks, spokesperson for the Albany Police Department. “The important thing here is to encourage people to provide these kinds of tips, no matter how small, so we can make progress in these areas. We never know how important it’s going to be.”
Assistant Fire Chief Rubin Jordan said the team is made up of 21 dedicated divers — down from 30 since the team began in May, 2013. Those novice divers train steadily and are now advance-certified to dive in moving water. The ultimate goal, Jordan says, if to attain swift water certification for all the divers.
“This was great practice for them,” said Keith Ambrose, AFD battalion chief and dive team leader. “They two who were diving said that swimming around in the dark water, it was easy to appreciate the training and instruction they’ve received.”
Ambrose said he hopes that with additional training, all the divers would win their swift water certification and be classified as public safety divers, but he’s uncertain if all of them will persevere.
“To become a public safety diver is a very difficult and demanding course,” Ambrose said.