Posted 12:58 p.m.
As New Jersey and other states north of us recover from a more devastating blow from Hurricane Sandy than we received, our own first responders are there helping.
Virginia Task Force 1 — Fairfax County’s Urban Search and Rescue Team — was deployed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to Little Ferry, N.J., and participated in water rescues and evacuations Tuesday in an area where a levee broke. VATF-1 worked through the night with one team as well as the military.
This morning, the team was briefed by FEMA and they are in the planning stages for the next 24 hours. The water has receded in the Little Ferry area and the team is now able to drive through the entire neighborhood with little difficulty. It was anticipated the team would finish with the neighborhood around noon today
The 80-member team and four canines are doing well and members have been able to get some rest.
The team consists of firefighters, paramedics, search and rescue specialists, structural engineers, physicians, hazardous materials specialists, planning and logistical staff, and canines and handlers. In addition to its regular complement of equipment, the team will also deploy with two inflatable boats, and water rescue specialists.
As the federal sponsoring agency, FEMA pays for all costs and expenses incurred by VATF-1 when members are activated or undergo training. All training, equipment, and personnel costs of VATF-1 are paid for by the federal government on a regular basis, including its new training facility in Lorton. Additionally, when firefighters and members are deployed, there is no loss in emergency response or service to Fairfax County residents, as minimum staffing for all apparatus is continuous for all fire and rescue stations. The training and expertise gained by working with our federal partners in times of local, regional, national and international disasters and emergencies enhances and improves the skill sets of firefighters and paramedics. The skills gained from this partnership provides a direct benefit to county residents by using these skills in making Fairfax County a safer and better place to live and work.
Posted at 3:34 p.m.
Virginia Task Force One (VATF-1), Fairfax County’s urban search and rescue team, will host both a grand opening and open house, tomorrow, Friday, October 19.
A grand opening will be conducted at VATF-1’s new disaster training center, from 9:30 a.m. until 11 a.m., 9900 Furnace Road in Lorton. Task force members will be on hand conducting various demonstrations using a wide array of rescue tools. Equipment will also be on display. The 25-acre training site is now VATF-1’s primary training area, previously part of the old Lorton Youth Correctional Facility.
VATF-1 also will spotlight its new headquarters, deployment center and warehouse with an open house from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. at 14725-H Flint Lee Road, Chantilly. Tours of the facility will be conducted, including opportunities to talk with VATF-1 members.
VATF-1 is part of the federal government’s disaster response system, both nationally and internationally. VATF-1 is governed through federal partnerships with the United States Agency for International Development for international response, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency for domestic disasters. VATF-1 is one of two internationally certified teams in the country. The team is also deployable within the Commonwealth of Virginia and may be used local events and disasters.
All costs for personnel, training and equipment are paid for by the federal government.
Team deployments include the Oklahoma City bombing, bombing in Kenya, earthquakes in Turkey, and Taiwan, the 9/11 response to The Pentagon, and numerous other national and international activations. The team consists of firefighters, paramedics, rescue specialists, physicians, hazardous materials and logistics specialists, structural engineers and canines.
Virginia Task Force 1 Urban Search and Rescue team will return to Fairfax this afternoon from Waterbury, Conn., where they have been deployed in the days after Hurricane Irene. The team was first deployed by FEMA to North Carolina, then New Jersey and finally Connecticut.
Learn more about the team.
As a result of flooding and concerns with the integrity of various dams in New Jersey, FEMA has directed our Virginia Task Force 1 Urban Search and Rescue Team to McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey this afternoon. Swift water resources have been added to the complement of VATF-1 resources.
Our Virginia Task Force 1 Urban Search and Rescue team is returning home to the fire academy, and they stand ready to be reassigned.
They began their journey home at midnight last night under escort by federal law enforcement officials.
While they were to be deployed to McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey, federal officials actually sent the team to Fort Bragg, N.C.