(CHESTER, PA) – On Wednesday, September 1, 2021, the Chester Bureau of Fire mobilized two water rescue teams in preparation for possible flooding in the city as the remnants of Hurricane Ida passed through the area. Fortunately, the City of Chester experienced no significant flooding however; municipalities in the surrounding counties suffered record setting flooding. The following morning, Thursday, September 2, 2021 the Chester Bureau of Fire received a call from the Delaware County Emergency Operations Center inquiring if the water rescue teams were available for deployment to Montgomery County to assist with the rescue of trapped residents in flooded areas.
A 5-member team consisting of a team leader, three water rescue technicians, a shore-based support member and the Bureau’s zodiac rescue boat responded to Upper Providence Township in Montgomery County. The team was comprised of Firefighters John Albany, Thomas Fanelli, Kevin Postlewait and Colin Flanagan and Battalion Chief John-Paul Shirley. Upon arriving, they were immediately put to work with the Upper Providence Township Fire Department evacuating residents of Mont Clare who had been trapped since the night before due to the flooding of the Schuylkill River. Crews rescued approximately 12 residents from the flooded area within an hour of arriving.
The Chester Bureau of Fire’s water rescue team was then joined by other water rescue technicians and boats from Aston Township Fire Department, Middletown Fire Department, Tinicum Fire Department, Chester Heights Fire Department and Delaware County Emergency Services. These teams formed the “Delaware County Water Rescue Task Force.” The task force was then deployed to help support another mission that was already underway to evacuate trapped residents. Crews from Aston Township Fire Department and Tinicum Fire Department assisted with searching homes to ensure there were no trapped occupants as well as the evacuation of trapped residents that could not be accessed by any other location.
Upon completion of the two missions, the task force returned to the staging area to await assignment for the next mission. While awaiting assignment, they were deployed to assist the Upper Providence Township Fire Department for a reported fire in a home that was surrounded by water. Crews again deployed into the water and assisted in transporting fire department personnel to the home so they could extinguish the fire. The small fire was determined to be caused by the short-circuiting of electrical wires due to the flooding.
The task force spent approximately 8 hours in Montgomery County before being demobilized and returning to Delaware County.
Submitted By: Commissioner W.C. Rigby