Water Rescue & Recovery Team


The Elgin Fire Department Water Rescue & Recovery Team’s mission is to provide a professional response to water rescue and recovery incidents to the residents and visitors of the City of Elgin.

Responsibility & Methodology

The Elgin Fire Department Water Rescue & Recovery Team was founded in 1976 as a special unit of the Elgin Fire Department. Since that time, all of the department members have been trained to be shore tenders to assist divers at the scene.

The Water Rescue & Recovery Team responds to all water rescue calls within the city and is called out to other areas in need of mutual aid as a part of the M.A.B.A.S. Division II Dive Team.

The Water Rescue & Recovery Team is organized for rapid rescue response, responding quickly, gathering information, and deploying two or more rescuers to perform a rapid and effective search and retrieval.

2008 Elgin Fire Department Dive Team.jpg

Due to the variety of water environments in the area (lakes, rivers, ponds, drainage ditches, etc.) the Water Rescue and Recovery Team must be prepared for several types of water rescue situations.

  • Evidence Recovery - They assist law enforcement agencies, locally and through mutual aid in crime scene investigations and evidence recovery operations.
  • River Diving - Rescue or recovery of victims using underwater search patterns in a moving water environment.
  • Surface Water Rescue - Rescue of accident victims while they are still on the surface of lakes, ponds and other types of still water.
  • Swift-water Rescue - Rescues performed anywhere near rivers and other types of moving water.
  • Underwater Rescue - Scuba divers performing underwater search patterns to locate near-drowning victims.

Qualifications & Continuing Education

All of the divers must attain at least their Dive Rescue 1 certification, Advance Diver Certification, Dry Suit certification, Ice Diver certification, and many members are certified in Swift water rescue, Boat Operator certified or Divemaster certified.

The Water Rescue & Recovery Team prepares for surface and underwater rescue, establishes rescue priorities (surface victims first, underwater victims second, if a choice must be made) to reduce the risks to themselves and deploy as quickly, efficiently, and as safely as possible.

Training is performed monthly, through diving at different locations; through this training team members gain knowledge and experience of both their skills and the varied dive sites. Each year, active dive team members are required to participate in a skills evaluations academic and practical training in addition to their firefighting and emergency medical training.

Divers exiting Fox River.jpg