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Fire department suits up with ice gear purchase

Wet suits to come in handy during ice rescue calls

Southbridge Firefighter Derek Lamica demonstrates one of the new wet suits recently acquired by the department. Adam T. Silva. (click for larger version)
January 20, 2011
SOUTHBRIDGE — The Southbridge Fire Department has updated their inventory with the purchase of two new wet suits for fire rescuing.

"We found out during our last ice rescuing class that we needed two new suits," said firefighter Derek Lamica, and Southbridge Firefighters Union 2194 President. "All the wear and tear on the old ones, especially in the gloves, knees and boots, are really obvious. We went to the chief [Fire Chief Richard Ciesla] and told him what we needed."

Unfortunately, there was only enough money in the department's budget for one suit, which costs $400. The union stepped in and voted to buy the additional one.

The union runs two fundraisers a year, flower sales during Easter and Mother's Day, and a telemarketing campaign. Police and fire departments cannot run the telemarketing campaigns themselves, so they hire a company to ask for donations. With each donation, they receive two tickets to a show, last year a comedy show, and is run by the same company. The flowers are sold at the fire department and at the Big Bunny parking lot.

Lamica estimates that the suits get used three to four times a year and are used in any water rescue. During a water rescue when someone has fallen through the ice, one firefighter goes to rescue the victim, while the other firefighter will stand at the edge of the shore in case the rescuing firefighter needs to be rescued as well.

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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