Paris Fire Dept. dive team prepares for any challenges

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LAMAR COUNTY, TX -- Some members of the Paris Fire Department geared up for some extra training Wednesday, but these crews aren't preparing to fight fires.

After a three year hiatus, Paris Fire Chief Larry Wright brought back the dive team and Wednesday morning, the newly formed group dropped their new boat into Pat Mayse Lake for training.

"Its not like we are going to be called out everyday," said Chief Wright. "It's important to have a team put together that can respond fairly quickly."

"It means a lot to me to be able to go out and help somebody that may be in distress over losing someone due to swimming into one of these lakes," said dive team member James Dority.

Equipped with a new boat, the team covers not only Paris and Lamar County but seven additional counties in the ArkLaTex Council of Governments.

"There's hundreds of people out here and then you have the surrounding lakes and even small ponds," said dive team member Dustin Huff. "It's just good to serve our community even better than we could before."

Visibility plays a huge role for the dive team. Many of the lakes, rivers and ponds have minimal visibility, hindering the group from locating a body or that key piece of evidence.

"You could see a foot to about two foot maybe," said Huff. "If you're touching the bottom all that sand is coming up, reducing your visibility even more."

Members of the team must not only be open water certified, but take classes on gathering forensic evidence.

"We don't want to disturb anything that doesn't need to be disturbed or doesn't have to be disturbed," said dive team member Cade Oats. "We try to be as careful as we can be."

The department received a grant through the ArkLaTex C.O.G. to purchase their new boat.