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Monday, January 30, 2006

Funds for New Dive Equipment Needed

By Jennifer Connic

Westport Police Department officials were planning to replace the dive team’s equipment starting in July, but it needed to be replaced now because of its age.

Police officials will be seeking nearly $20,000 from the Board of Finance on Wednesday at 8 p.m. to buy new equipment for four divers.

Deputy Police Chief David Heinmiller said two sets of equipment were first going to be replaced in the 2006-07 budget, which goes into effect in July, and the other two would be included in a following budget.

“When we were researching, we realized the suits were bought in 1996,” he said. “The five-year life was stretched to 10 years. We can’t really do half and half in upcoming budgets.”

The equipment includes dry suits and cold water regulators, Heinmiller said.

The dry suits divers currently use have been drying out and are tearing, he said.

“We’ve repaired them a couple times, but they are well beyond their usable life,” he said.

Police Chief Al Fiore, who used to be on the dive team, said the dive team is a combination of police officers and firefighters, and they train regularly together.

The group is used to help when there is a drowning incident or evidence needs to be recovered, he said.

“We’ve helped other towns,” he said. “There were a couple Wilton drowning cases that we helped on in the last few years.”

Divers need to be fast to save people, Fiore said, otherwise the divers’ efforts are more of a recovery effort.

Many times suspects will also throw evidence into the water throughout town, including the Saugatuck River, and divers need to search for it, Fiore said.

“They throw evidence in the water a lot,” he said.

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Posted 01/30/06 at 12:00 PM  Permalink



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