The Sitka Volunteer Fire Department has a Dive Team that responds to any water related emergency in the City and Borough of Sitka. The team currently consists of a Captain,
a Lieutenant, two Dive Medics, and 14 Divers who are cross trained as divers and tenders. The team drills every month.
The divers are certified as Public Safety Divers through ACUC and have attended courses through Life Guard Systems (LGS), Dive Rescue International (DRI), and HSS. The team members have attended training to include; Rapid Response/Search/Rescue and Recovery Diving, Black Water Diving, Wide Area Search, Sled Diving, Underwater Boat Extrication, Underwater Explosive Detection, Surface Ice Rescue, Surface Water Rescue, Ice Diving, High/Low Angle Rope Rescue, Swift Water Rescue, Underwater Investigations and Underwater Crime Scene Tech., etc. We have also sent members to the International Police Diver Symposium where they meet with dive teams from the FBI, NYPD, US Navy, and all over the world.
The team consists of volunteers from the community. The Sitka Police Department’s Investigative Dive Unit works and trains under the umbrella of the Fire Department’s Dive Team. The Dive Medics are certified as EMT III's with the State of Alaska, and have attended a Dive Medic course. Several of the team members are trained EMT’s. Our Medical Director has been certified by NOAA as a Diving Medical Officer and can run the hyperbaric chamber.
New team members must be certified in Basic and Advanced Open Water Diving, and have logged a minimum of 25 dives (15 in a dry suit) and worked as a tender for 3 months before
starting public safety dive training with the team. Most of the divers hold either Rescue Diver or Dive Master Certifications through PADI. Some of the members hold
additional specialty certifications.
The team is capable of conducting shore operations, boat operations, and has been deployed by the United States Coast Guard's Jay Hawk Helicopters.
The team utilizes fully encapsulated dry suits with full face masks (AGA’s), and underwater communications for Haz Mat conditions. The team has a ROV and a Side Scan Sonar, which can operate to a depth of 1,000 feet. The team also utilizes an underwater video camera and digital camera
and an underwater metal detector for the collection and documentation of evidence.
The team has conducted several successful surface rescues, which include bridge jumpers, over turned kayaks and overturned fishing vessels with people in the water. The team has responded to downed air craft, overturned boats, and submerged vehicles. The team has conducted several water related death investigations, evidence recovery operations and recovered thousands of dollars in stolen property, including discarded firearms in criminal cases.