Fire department purchases new drysuits
by Wes Mayer
With the help of donations from the Newnan-Coweta Public Safety Foundation, the Coweta County Fire Department was able to purchase four new drysuits for its water rescue unit.
“It’s important for people to know how their donations are helping out,” said Norma Haynes, with the public safety foundation.
All four drysuits cost the department $3,200, said Deputy Fire Chief Todd Moore. After receiving the new suits, the fire department invited members of the public safety foundation – Haynes, Tammy Cash, Pat Craven and Gail Carnes – to the Fire Station 1 headquarters on Turkey Creek Road to show their appreciation, to let them see the new suits and to learn about their many uses.
“We have a lot of water in Coweta County,” said Capt. Robby Flanagan, who gave a brief presentation on the new suits.
“In the winter-time, these suits will really save us.” A dry suit is different from a wet suit in that it keeps the wearer dry. In a wet suit, the wearer intends to get wet, trap water in the suit and use his or her own body heat to warm up the water and stay warm. In a dry suit, the wearer prevents water from touching them, which is especially helpful when the water is too cold to warm up with their body heat. Being in Georgia’s winter-cold water for a long amount of time can still cause hypothermia, Flanagan said.
Just this year, the fire department has rescued people on the Chattahoochee River three times, Flanagan said.
Flanagan also told the public safety foundation members about the fire department being present for local triathlons, lake activities or other events on the river just in case anyone needs to be rescued. This weekend, Flanagan said a triathlon is being held at Blalock Lake. Also, a large group of kayakers, around 400, are planning to paddle down the Chattahoochee River and stop in Fulton County – but the fire department will be ready just in case they cross into Coweta.
Flanagan showed off the numerous features of the suits. The suit itself has thermal protection, and, at night, the suits are reflective so the firefighters in the department’s inflatable zodiac water craft or from land can shine lights and easily see them.
Inside the suit is a safety harness to hold the suit in place, and the suits have a natural buoyancy – firefighters will still wear life preserver vests on top of the suits, however, according to Flanagan. The suits can even be pumped up with air and used as a flotation device.
Because the Chattahoochee River calls for different situations depending on the height of the water, Flanagan said the suits will have many uses for the department which needs a wide variety of equipment for its water rescue operations.