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Preston Dive Team requests funds for equipment

KINGWOOD – The Preston County Dive Team is seeking financial help to buy gear.

At the Tuesday meeting of the Preston County Commission, Commissioner Samantha Stone said she received a call from Reedsville Volunteer Fire Department Chief Scott Spiker about the gear the department would like to purchase.

“I asked him to compile some information,” she said. “The dive gear is worth upward to $68,000 and is being sold for $20,000. He (Spiker) wanted to see if we could provide any funds.”

“A Volunteer Fire Department in Delaware is selling it,” Spike told The Dominion Post. “I contacted the commission and Sen. Dave Sypolt to see if we can get some help.”

He said the VFD selling the gear is disbanding and wants to sell the gear as a deal instead of selling it in individual pieces. Spiker said a lot of the gear is newer. A VFD in Georgia is also looking at it.

Spiker said the Preston County Dive Team has only $1,000 in funds. He said due to the pandemic they have not been able to hold fundraisers as they have in the past.

“The dive team was founded 20 years ago,” Spiker said. “Delegate Larry Williams helped us get $15,000 from the Governor’s Contingency Fund.”

He said the team’s 14 divers come from VFDs from across the county. 

“We purchased our own gear,” Spiker said. “We take it home with us. We leave the two sets of gear the Fireman’s Association bought for us on the trailer in case one of us is out and we get a call. That way he doesn’t have to run home before going to the scene.”

He said a basic set up of gear costs $2,000.

Spiker said calls come not only in Preston County.

“Some of our work is for the sheriff in evidence and body recovery,” he said. “But we are called to assist other counties too.” 

An in-county example happened last August when Preston volunteer fire departments,  ambulance squads, Health Net, the dive team and the fast water rescue team joined forces to rescue a man who had fallen over a waterfall and hit the rocks near the Rockville-Mount Nebo Bridge.

Following the rescue, Spiker said when his team arrived at the scene, they found a man at the bottom of the falls. He said circumstances required a vertical rescue.

Bruceton-Brandonville VFD, Masontown VFD, Reedsville VFD , HealthNet, KAMP Ambulance and Bruceton Ambulance were on the scene.