Dive & Rescue Department
The Lake Villa Fire Protection District currently has twelve divers on the roster. Of those twelve, ten are Ice Dive Certified and eleven are members of the Lake and McHenry County Specialized Response Team (SRT). These divers respond to multiple water and ice rescue calls per year, not only in our district but mutual aid to neighboring departments.
To become a member of the Dive Team, an individual must complete a recreational Open Water Diver course from a recognized training agency. The member then must complete a Public Safety Diver course, including the use of a drysuit and full-face mask from a recognized training agency.
The Lake Villa Fire Protection District has a contractor that is an SDI/ERDI Instructor, Lt. Glen Heitman, Lt. Heitman trains and certifies all LVFPD divers, along with many other area department rescue divers. By conducting in-house certification classes as well as ongoing training, we keep costs lower and tailor the training to our needs and the conditions that we dive in.
The Dive Team holds multiple training dives throughout the calendar year, including an Ice Dive. To maintain membership on our Department and SRT Team, a diver must complete five training dives a year, a pool session where they demonstrate the ability to perform basic skills as well as mitigate diver emergencies. They also must complete a watermanship test consisting of an 800-meter mask, fins and snorkel swim, a 500-meter swim with no swim aids, a 100 meter buddy tow and a 15 minute survival float.
Each diver is outfitted with personal gear at a cost of over $5000 per diver. All dives are conducted in Drysuits and Full-Face masks to help protect the divers from contaminants in the water as well as to provide thermal protection. The department has multiple search lines and underwater communication equipment as well as specialized ice rescue equipment. The team responds in a custom-built Van that houses the search lines, communications equipment, ice rescue equipment and diver’s personal equipment. The department also has a boat that responds on all water rescues calls.
Most of the firefighters employed by the Lake Villa Fire Protection District have received Surface Ice Rescue training. The LVFPD responds to multiple calls a year for snowmobiles/ATV’s that have fallen through the ice and individuals as well as pets that have fallen through. We have Surface Ice Rescue gear at each of the four stations as well as on the Dive Van.