Tarkington Volunteer Fire Department is looking for sponsors to help send several firefighters to a Swift Water Rescue Class that is being held later this year in San Antonio. Tarkington Fire Chief Paul Gregory says that recent storms – particularly Hurricane Harvey and Tropical Storm Imelda – have underscored the need for training for firefighters.
“It’s for the safety of our firefighters and the people they rescue. During Harvey and Imelda, we were out doing rescues by boat and high-profile vehicles. There were some incidents where the water was deep and moving quickly, so we had to rescue people by boats from their houses and vehicles,” Tarkington Fire Chief Paul Gregory said. “Had one of the firefighters or residents fallen into a deep hole or slipped, they might have been swept away downstream.”
It’s not just the hurricanes and tropical storms that are an issue as Liberty County is prone to major flooding, like in December 2018 when Tarkington firefighters had to assist stranded residents in the Cleveland area after a major storm dropped several inches of rain.
“It’s a little different than running into a burning building where you can actually see the enemy. Swift water rescue is not something we know enough about as firefighters, so this training is very important,” Gregory said. “These are volunteers risking their lives to help the people of this community. They need training so they can go home afterward to their families.”
The message of “Everyone Goes Home” has been preached around fire agencies in recent years, but Gregory said that when an agency is unable to offer the training because of a lack of funding, there is an issue. The pandemic has made it more challenging for the agency to hold its regular fundraisers.
“You don’t always know the dangers when you are working in swift water. You can’t see where you are walking and can’t always use a boat to reach a house and rescue a person, so this training is important,” he said.
Anyone who wishes to make a donation should call the Fire Station at 281-592-7800 and leave a message, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.