Governor Cuomo Announces Upcoming Water Rescue Trainings for First Responders Across New York

Governor Cuomo announced that the NYS Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services’ Office of Fire Prevention and Control will be offering Ice and Cold Water Rescue Technician trainings across the state.

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Photo of previous training.

Photo by: Governor's Press Office.

Albany, NY - February 17, 2017 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services’ Office of Fire Prevention and Control will be offering Ice and Cold Water Rescue Technician trainings across the state. The courses will teach first responders, including local firefighters and emergency personnel, the proper techniques of how to rescue victims from the surface of cold or frozen water. The trainings are part of a coordinated effort to enhance safety along waterways for all New Yorkers that enjoy winter recreational activities.
“New York has premier winter recreation opportunities alongside our lakes, ponds and waterways, and we must ensure that residents and visitors alike can take advantage of all that our great outdoors has to offer safely,” Governor Cuomo said. “These trainings will give first responders the training and skills needed to act in emergency situations around frozen waterways, where every second counts, and make this state safer for all.”
“Ice rescue can be extremely dangerous for our first responders, who also can fall victim to the hazards of ice rescue,” said DHSES Commissioner John Melville. “Whenever you are engaged in activities on the ice, it is absolutely critical to ensure that the ice is safe prior to heading out.”
This 16 hour course combines classroom and hands-on training and covers how to recognize ice characteristics, especially its strengths and weaknesses, how to properly utilize water personal protective equipment, rescue techniques, medical aspects of ice and cold water rescues, and culminates with hands-on, practical training. Photos of previous trainings are available here.
After several recent fatalities, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation have also warned outdoor enthusiasts about the dangers of snowmobiling on thin ice. 
When preparing to fish, skate, snowmobile, or engage in other activities, New Yorkers are reminded that anything less than three inches of ice should be considered unsafe for any activity.  Three to four inches of new, clear ice are considered safe for fishing or activities on foot, and at least 5 inches are required for snowmobile or ATV use.  At least 12 inches of new, clear ice are necessary for any type of activity involving a car or truck.  These ice thicknesses should be doubled for slush ice and white ice, because they are significantly weaker.  Ice around the shore, near docks with “bubblers”, and near moving bodies of water can produce thinner, more dangerous areas of ice. Any individuals that have concerns over the thickness of ice on a given body of water, consult with local authorities to determine whether it’s safe to proceed. 
The Ice and Cold Water Rescue Technician courses are offered from January through March each year throughout the state.  In 2017, 146 firefighters have already taken this course during eight sessions across New York.  Courses in 2017 have taken place in:

  • Broome County
  • Jefferson County
  • Monroe (3 classes)
  • Ontario County
  • Schuyler County (2 classes)

Future training classes are scheduled at:

  • (Upate - 2/22/2017 - Rescheduled to Feb. 22) Franklinville Fire Department - February 18-19 (Cattaraugus County)
  • Johnsonville Fire Department - February 18-19 (Rensselaer County)
  • Hammondsport Fire Department - February 25-26 (Steuben County)
  • Croton Falls Fire Department - February 25-26 (Westchester County)
  • Yonkers Fire Department - February 27-28 (Westchester County)
  • Lakeville Fire Department - March 4-5 (Livingston County)
  • Minoa Fire Department - March 4-5 (Onondaga County)
  • Colton Fire Department - March 11-12 (St Lawrence County)
  • Waterloo Fire Department - March 11-12 (Seneca County)

Fire departments wishing to schedule a course can submit a request for the training through their County Fire Coordinator’s Office.
About the State Office of Fire Prevent and Control
The Office of Fire Prevention and Control delivers a wide breadth of services to firefighters, emergency responders, state and local government agencies, public and private colleges, and the citizens of New York. The Office advances public safety through firefighter training, education, fire prevention, investigative, special operations and technical rescue programs. The timely delivery of these essential services enables the Office to make significant contributions to the safety of all of New York State.
The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services and its four offices -- Counter Terrorism, Emergency Management, Fire Prevention and Control, and Interoperable and Emergency Communications --  provides leadership, coordination and support for efforts to prevent, protect against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from terrorism and other man-made and natural disasters, threats, fires and other emergencies. For more information, visit the Facebook page, follow @NYSDHSES on Twitter, or visit