SLFD implements new water safety program

Sheffield Lake’s Fire Department has begun a Water Safety Program to provide an additional layer of safety for lake enthusiasts experiencing an emergency or other issue. A team of firefighters has been trained to utilize Sea-Doo personal watercrafts, which will be kept at the boat launch to ensure quick response to emergenies. It went into effect May 19.

Fire Chief David Novak said the department has responded to 15 water-related emergencies since 2017. “The most recent, and catalyst for this project, was the disappearance of a kayaker on November 5, 2022,” he said, adding that the increase in lake-related incidents has put a stain on nearby departments who provide mutual aid efforts with Sheffield Lake. Additionally, the nearby Lorain Coast Guard station is staffed only from Memorial Day to Labor Day which means any resources before or after those dates would be deployed from Cleveland.

Sheffield Lake and Avon Lake firefighters recently participated in joint training provided by Michigan Rescue Concepts, LLC. The training, which included hands-on learning and testing, was the last portion of the project that needed to be completed before placing the PWCs into service, the Chief said. He added the training also provided an opportunity for both departments to work together to plan an efficient, well-coordinated response for both cities in the case of an emergency.

The PWCs will be kept at the Sheffield Lake Boat Launch in a secured area, allowing for a quick response. “This will save valuable time in these urgent time-sensitive situations. With training, the PWCs will be able to be deployed, typically, in under 10 minutes,” Novak said.

Lieutenant Brian Davis, Firefighters Joe Cook, Daniel Forror and Dalton Wilson are the members of this team.

“Having this capability is a great asset for Sheffield Lake and our neighboring communities on the shores of Lake Erie,” Novak said. “A lakefront community has the responsibility of being fully prepared in the event of water rescue operations. To that end, the addition of the Personal Water Crafts to our SLFD fleet will enable our team to expedite such water rescue operations. Like any job, the proper tools are necessary. I’m proud to be a part of Sheffield Lake’s commitment to the service and protection of residents.”