Technical Rescues

Everyone in the City probably already knows that the Fire Department does more than just put out fires and operate ambulances.  Certainly the "Great Flood of 2008" saw all the fire fighters out in the Department's boats, DNR boats, loaned boats, trying to help all those who needed a "technical rescue".  Fire fighters spend a great deal of their time at the Station in training, particularly in technical rescues.  While the Fire Department hopes it can rescue anyone from any situation who needs help, the fire fighters regularly train on:

Confined Space RescueCONFINED SPACE


The Department trains in numerous different "types" of confined spaces, each of which has its own particular problems, equipment usage and potential dangers.  Here a fire fighter is practicing in one of the City's water towers.




Of all the technical rescues, the one that probably has the most potential for causing serious injuries to the fire fighters trying to save someone is a trench rescue.  Generally, during this type of rescue operation, a ditch or other dirt digging has collapsed and someone is trapped.  The fire fighters need to learn how to shore up the sides of the trenches before they can safely rescue anyone.



The Mason City Fire Department has been involved in the field of water rescue for over thirty years. The department has fielded a small SCUBA (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus) team since 1960 when Chief Arnold purchased the first two dive sets.  Recent training and equipment additions have allowed the department to expand its capabilities into swift-water and ice rescue.  Today's Dive Team is 8 strong, with gear to handle everything from swift water to ice.  The state-of-the-art equipment is kept in a dive trailer pulled behind Squad 2 (usually). 

MCFD Fire Fighter Looking Out at 2008 Flood Waters
Photo by Globe Gazette

Prevention of water-related emergencies is the first obligation of a rescue team.  More people drown in the United States every year than die in a fire. 

Water Safety Begins with You

  • Always wear a life jacket when boating. 89% of boating fatalities were not wearing a Personal Flotation Device ( P.F.D. ).
  • Refrain from the use of alcohol or drugs when boating. Over 50% of all boating fatalities are alcohol-related.
  • Never drive a vehicle across a flooded road or street. 1 1/2 to 2 feet of water will float most cars.
  • Avoid fast-moving floodwaters, the power of moving water is enormous; even wading in shallow, swift water can be life threatening.
  • Stay away from dams and weirs; they do not look dangerous, but they are nicknamed, "The Drowning Machine" for good reason.
  • Never dive into water where the depth is unknown. This causes several hundred cases of paralysis each year!!

Mason City Fire Department employs two water rescue boats. Both boats are inflatable and easily deployed. The lightest is only 125 lbs. The boats are used for initial response as well as scuba support operations.


Ice and Cold Water RescuesICE AND COLD WATER RESCUE


Of all of the technical rescues at the Fire Department, it is in the ice and cold water rescues that the fire fighters have probably benefited the most from advances in technology.  With the new arctic and cold water gear, the fire fighters stay quite warm while in Iowa's frigid winter waters.





The fire fighters used all of their training and equipment in swift water rescue during the 2008 flood in Mason City.  All water rescue equipment is contained in the Department's dive trailer which is usually pulled behind 2332 (or Squad Two).  In addition to the two inflatable rafts and motors, the Department recently received the use of a jet ski from Mason City Honda for use in water rescues.






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