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Posted on: May 10, 2023

Norristown Fire Department earns state Swiftwater/Flood Rescuing Recognition


NORRISTOWN- The Norristown Fire Department has earned the Swiftwater Type 2a Recognition through the Pennsylvania Volunteer Rescue Services Recognition (VRSR) program.

Type 2a recognition is for moderately complex rescues for a six-member, all-hazard team.

The VRSR is administered by the Office of the State Fire Commissioner through the Pennsylvania Department of Health to recognize emergency service organizations in swiftwater rescue. The VRSR has five tiers of recognition based on team qualifications, available equipment and training as needed for safe and efficient rescue operations for the Swiftwater/Flood Evacuation team: Type 1a Team; Type 2a Team; Type 3a Team; Type 4a Team; and Flood Evacuation.

Norristown’s Type 2a recognition is valid from April 1, 2023 to March 31, 2026.

“I’m proud of our department’s commitment to excellence in public safety,” said Norristown Fire Chief Thomas O’Donnell. “This recognition illustrates the dedication that every member of the Norristown Fire Department displays daily in service to their community.”

According to O’Donnell, there are 34 swiftwater certified teams in Pennsylvania. Norristown is one of only 11 2A-certified teams in the state, and the only one in Montgomery County.

The VRSR swiftwater inspection of the Norristown Fire Department was conducted on Nov. 29, 2022 by the Montgomery County Department of Public Safety.

Norristown Fire Department responds to approximately a dozen water rescue calls every year. Related to swiftwater rescue, all NFD personnel are required to have the following training: HazMat Operations; Helicopter Operations Awareness; ICS 100,200 & 700; Swiftwater/Flood Awareness - Water Rescue for First Responders; Swiftwater/Flood Awareness - Water Rescue & Emergency Response; and Swiftwater/Flood Awareness - Emergency Boat Operations & Rescue.

Available apparatus to support water rescue calls include one Marine Unit equipped with water rescue equipment and two swiftwater rescue boats with 40 horsepower motors. A high-water rescue vehicle purchased in Feb. 2022 is expected to be delivered to Norristown Fire Department this summer.

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