The department is one of the first in the area to receive this equipment.By Chris Hoffman

CRESCENT TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — A new device for the Crescent Township Fire Department will help to search and rescue as well as search and recovery efforts go quicker. It’s a drone for underwater.

The fire department will be one of the first in our area to have a remote operating vehicle like this for the water.

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“Just about anything underwater and you want to see if you can find it,” Crescent Township Volunteer Fire Department President John Kriger said.

Before they would have to use sonar on boats and send in divers to check it out. Divers can only last about 20 or so minutes depending on the conditions.

“We can be in the cold water with this and then when we find our object, we can send our diver down. It limits his time in the cold water,” Kriger said.

The drone can last up to 3 hours in the water, and pinpoint where the divers need to go. This makes it so divers have to spend less time in the water. It has sonar, a camera, a claw, and is controlled by what almost looks like a video game controller on a boat.

The department has a history of being the river rescue unit in that stretch of the Ohio River and this will help in regional searches.

“Whatever we can do to further our compassion and technology on the river, this is it,” Crescent Volunteer Fire Department Chief Dan Muller said while showing the device.

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It can be used in immediate search and rescue efforts to save a life. In the unfortunate situation of search and recovery it can cut down the time in finding the victim to give the family closure.

The cost was a few thousand dollars, but the department didn’t pay a dime.

“The department means enough to us this was one of the first things we thought about,” Jon Luke Affeltranger said.

His family has been involved with the department for almost 6 decades with his mother Joyce Phillips and grandfather Lewis. Joyce had wanted to get a device like this for the department.

After her death earlier this year, Affeltranger and his sister raised the money and bought the drone for the department. It will be known as the R.O.V. (remote operating vehicle) Phillips.

“It’s going to be like a guardian a angel along the rivers to help a lot more than just us here at the department and town,” Affeltranger said.

The department hopes to get people trained and ready to use by early next year.

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“They stepped up to the plate for us. We’re really really appreciative,” Kriger said.