Local fire department has doubled high water rescue equipment

A large part of surviving a storm is preparing for the worst. So, Fox 26 went to the Spring Fire Department to talk with emergency officials about their plan of action for the potential flooding.

The department has dozens of pieces of high water rescue equipment, like life vests and inflatable boats, strategically staged around the area.  In Spring, they are certainly hoping for the best but getting ready for the worst.

The equipment in the Spring Fire Department has been triple tested and taken to several spots around town. 

"We put them in areas that are most prone to flooding,” explains Veteran Firefighter Richard Rakus. 

The department has double the amount of high water rescue boats and vehicles since Harvey.

"The exhaust comes out from the top so they can go through the higher water. This high water vehicle can drive through four to five feet of high water.  We can actually drive with water entering the cab,” explains firefighter Kevin Price.

Rakus, a 12 year veteran firefighter, performed countless rescues during Harvey. 

"It was hundreds and hundreds," he recalls a time when water was waist deep inside the truck and they were still going. "We went to a house that had an explosion. The explosion occurred because the guy didn’t shut off electricity and gas to his house when water started coming into his home."

There was also a time during Harvey when Rakus was sent to recover a body and he actually found the victim clinging above flood waters in a tree. Using what’s called a throw bag, Rakus saved the man's life. 

"We helped him into the zodiac (the inflatable) and took him to shore."

Rakus saved so many lives during Harvey, he was named 100 Club’s 2018 Firefighter of the Year. Now, he and 200 of his fellow Spring firefighters are on standby, waiting and watching the weather. 

"Many of our personnel here are Swift Water Rescue qualified as well as Boat Operator qualified,” explains Price.

While Harvey left widespread destruction, it also gave Spring firefighters invaluable experience. 

“We're now staging them (high water rescue boats and vehicles) better because we know the areas that are prone to flooding. We know how fast we need to get people out. We know if a storm sits over the area, we need to move faster and get people out,” Rakus explains.