By ARDEN BASTIA To celebrate Earth Day, the Warwick Fire Department dive team took to the water to conduct an underwater cleanup of Safe Harbor Cowesett, the former Brewers Marina. The team, Divers Against Debris, is part of Project Aware, an initiative
To celebrate Earth Day, the Warwick Fire Department dive team took to the water to conduct an underwater cleanup of Safe Harbor Cowesett, the former Brewers Marina.
The team, Divers Against Debris, is part of Project Aware, an initiative from the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). For the past 28 years, Project Aware and PADI have aimed to raise awareness of the importance of clean, healthy oceans through clean ups and education.
For the Warwick Fire Department, the project served two purposes: it gave firefighters a chance to practice their dive rescue skills while also giving back to the community.
“We consider marinas to be target areas where we could have an incident,” explained Battalion Chief Tom Brady. “It gave guys an opportunity to dive in the area without having boats overhead and familiarize themselves with the underwater environment. And it was a show of goodwill for the community.”
Brady has been a certified PADI diver since 2009, but has worked as firefighter since 1990. He currently teaches diving courses, and has done so since 2015.
He explained that a training session like this one is more difficult and dangerous when the marina is filled with boats, and Brady wanted to give his team a chance to get familiar with the water.
“The water was shallow and 46 degrees, but we conducted our dive and collected several wheelbarrows of debris,” said Brady in an interview on Monday.
While firefighters didn’t pull any treasure chests from the docks, they did recover several cell phones, tires, sunglasses, beer bottles, traffic cones, and a ladder. Brady said the team recycled what they could, and disposed of the rest.
Brady had originally set a goal of two dives in April, but so far the team has only completed one. Brady wants to get in at least two more before the boating season officially starts on Memorial Day weekend.
In the past year, the fire department dive team has conducted 46 dives to test their skills.
“We have a really great group of guys that want to get in the water as much as possible,” said Brady. “It’s all about getting people as comfortable underwater as they can be.”
The dive team has been part of the WFD since 1996, when three incidents in a calendar year signaled the need for a water rescue team. Brady explained that a young kid fell through the ice on Spring Green Pond, and two drownings occurred later in the year, one of which occurred at a marina.