Members of the St. Clair Shores Fire Department and U.S. Coast Guard train on the use of a hypothermia bag during training Feb. 9.

Members of the St. Clair Shores Fire Department and U.S. Coast Guard train on the use of a hypothermia bag during training Feb. 9.

Photo provided by Fire Marshal Scott DesMadryl


St. Clair Shores Fire Department teams up with U.S. Coast Guard for ice training

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published February 23, 2021

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — The surface of Lake St. Clair is frozen, and the St. Clair Shores Fire Department is ready.

The department and the U.S. Coast Guard hit the ice for annual training on Lake St. Clair Feb. 9.

“We work with them ... so it was a good opportunity to reestablish some of those relationships,” said Fire Chief James Piper. “They’ve always been great and willing to do a lot of things with us on training.”

Piper said the department was able to coordinate with the U.S. Coast Guard for both the classroom and hands-on portions of this year’s ice training.

St. Clair Shores Fire Training Chief Kurt Grover said ice training is something the department makes sure to cover every year since the city borders Lake St. Clair.

“We had the Coast Guard because they are kind of in our plan if we need to work with them on a real incident,” he said, adding that it’s a great asset to have a Coast Guard station in the city.

Before heading out in the cold, the department covered logistical issues with regard to ice rescues, like how to contact the Coast Guard in the event an ice rescue is needed, how to contact dispatch and how many rescue personnel to send out on the ice.

“It’s nice to do that inside so when you’re out on the ice, you’re doing the work and the rescue,” Piper said, instead of spending time in the cold covering those matters.

Grover said the department needs to be adept at ice rescues for all kinds of reasons: ice fishermen, skaters, snowmobilers, “anything you can think of that someone wants to go out there.”

“In years past, we’ve had a car go through the ice.”

It did take longer for the lake to freeze than usual, so ice training was a few weeks later than typical, Grover said, but the size of Lake St. Clair means the department typically can’t get out for ice training until at least January.

“It’s one of those many missions that the Fire Department handles, and we keep on top of it,” Piper said. “It’s fun for the guys.

“It’s one of those things we hope we don’t have to use, but we’re glad we’re prepared and equipped for it.”

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