(Cincinnati) With Spring on the way, and areas already seeing flooding the Cincinnati Fire Department has improved its ability to deal with water rescues and fighting fires in flood waters.

In 2006, member of the Cincinnati Fire Department Tom Lakamp issued a report that detailed flood rescue preparedness by CFD. It reported the department had a lacking in training of boat use, lack of personal floatation devices, and a did not address flood emergencies in its operations manual. Lakamp, now Special Operations Fire Chief, says the department has come a long way since then. He says the department now has dozens of firefighters who are trained in boat operation and rescue as well as more boats. He says all firefighters in the department have a personal floatation device available to them in case they are conducting rescues in flood waters. S.O. Chief Lakamp says they have new software called Raven 911, which allows rescue crews to see what water and flood conditions are so they can coordinate personel and equipment suitable for flood or river rescues. S.O. Chief Lakamp says there have also been strides made in coodinated efforts among all tri-state fire and rescue agencies. 

"We just rewrote the River Red Book," said CFD S.O. Chief Lakamp, "which is part of the Area Maritime Security Commitee, which covers the Ohio River from dam to dam." 

The Area Maritime Security Committee is under the federal Homeland Security, which has place areas of the country in different zones. Each zone lead by their AMSC devises a coordinated emergency plan that includes flood emergencies. S.O. Chief Lakamp says as part of the plan the agencies between the two I-275 bridges have worked together to plan for flooding and water recue emergencies. He says those agencies include ones in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. The plan splits the areas between the two bridges into three different zones.

"Now, if we have an emergency on the river, we have protocol depending on where it is, everybody in that zone will be notified,"  said CFD S.O. Chief Lakamp, "so we don't really care what it says on the side of the boat, it's whoever gets there first. So we've pretty much thrown jurisdiction out the window." 

S.O. Chief Lakamp says the departments regularly have training together and are knowledgeable about other's equipment and boats. He says this cuts down on response time and make rescues successful more often. He also says they have coordinated their communication devices so they can communicate to each other during water rescues, which can be dangerous for the crews. The Little Miami River has also been included in their plan because of drownings that have occured there.