1000 Church Hill Road | Pittsburgh, PA 15205 | 412-788-8120

Robinson Township Volunteer Fire Company #1 Swift Water Rescue Team
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Robinson Township Volunteer Fire Company #1 Swift Water Rescue Team


GFVD began training in 2005 and are one of only four teams in the state to achieve Volunteer Rescue Service Recognition. RTVFC #1- Groveton are now members of Allegheny County response team as well as the Region 13 response area consisting of 13 South Western PA counties. They are also an asset to PA Emergency Management (PEMA) and available to Federal Emergency Management (FEMA). Any deployment would incur no cost to the residents of Robinson Township and would be funded at the State/Federal level.

This award demonstrates an outstanding level of commitment to the Fire and EMS Service and to the health and welfare of the residents of Robinson Township and the citizens of the Commonwealth.

Assistant Fire Chief of Robinson Twp VFC#1, Raymond Dankert, presented a power point presentation at Robinson's Commissioners meeting on behalf of his department and Fire Chief, Ken Kisow, Forest Grove's Chief Andy Lizanich and Neville Island Fire Chief, Mike Pugh.

Recently members of these departments received Volunteer Rescue Service Recognition accreditation in Swiftwater and Flood Response certification.

The Robinson Twp VFC#1 in Groveton has had river rescue, scuba and flood management as a core competency since 1943. The department identified the need for additional accreditation after the flooding in 2004 by Hurricane Francis 4 inches of rain and Hurricane Ivan 6 inches of rain just one weeks later. The Montour and Moon Run creeks backed up because they couldn't empty into the Ohio River which was at Flood stage causing the Groveton bottoms to be cut off without an escape route. We performed quite a few rescues from the homes and fed the residents for almost a week during the clean-up. But the Kutchner residence rescue was dramatic and risky due to the location and conditions.

That event identified training and equipment gaps. We immediately sought opportunities to upgrade our equipment and our skill set in water emergencies and rescue. In March of 2005, a group of four (4) members attended the Water Rescue and Emergency Response program recognized through the PA Fish and Boat Commission. Another group attended the training in 2007.

Since then, we formed this team among the three departments and have spent more than 2700 hours in training classes including boat operations, ice rescue and advanced lines as well as hazardous materials operations. The team now has 11 fully certified technician level members and another 11 need one more class to obtain the technician level. We are all volunteers and this was accomplished at no cost to the residents of this Township.

We wanted to demonstrate our commitment and decided to pursue the Voluntary Rescue Service Recognition accreditation. In order to achieve that, we needed to prove our competencies as determined by the PA Department of Health, Bureau of Emergency Medical Services, PA Fish and Boat Commission and the Office of the State Fire Commissioner. This program provides guidance and develops recommendations for staff training and skill levels including Organizational Development, Resource identification, National Incident Management, Training, and equipment.

We underwent an inspection and on November 5, 2013, awarded the VRSR accreditation for a period of three years. During this time, we will continue to train, maintain and upgrade our equipment and prepare for the next inspection. Of the 2100 Volunteer Emergency Services Organizations across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Robinson Township VFC#1 is one of only five teams in the state to achieve this level. We are a member of Allegheny County response team as well as the Region 13 response area consisting of 13 Western PA counties. We are now also an asset to PA Emergency Management (PEMA) and available to Federal Emergency Management ( FEMA), if called on.

Any deployment would again incur no cost to the residents of Robinson Township and would be funded at the State / Federal level. This award demonstrates an outstanding level of commitment to the Fire and EMS Service and to the health and welfare of the residents of Robinson Township and the citizens of the Commonwealth.

This article was written by and presented to Robinson Commissioners by Assistant Fire Chief Raymond Dankert, Robinson Twp VFC#1 in Groveton.