Update from Fairfax Firefighters on Hurricane Duty

News release from Fairfax County Fire and Rescue

By: John Morrison
Member of VA-TF1

Our Fairfax County Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Team has had a busy week!  Before Hurricane Dorian made landfall, FEMA activated an 80-person Type 1 USAR team (VA-TF1) to stage in Florida on Friday, August 30th.  Due to forecast changes, the team was then relocated to North Carolina, and eventually released by FEMA on Wednesday, September 4th.

That same day, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) activated a 57-person Medium USAR team (USA-1) to respond to The Bahamas.  The team arrived early morning on Thursday, September 5th in Nassau to join USAID’s Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), which is coordinating the U.S. Government response to Hurricane Dorian in The Bahamas.

Later that day, members of the team used a fixed-wing United States Coast Guard aircraft to conduct an aerial reconnaissance mission of the hard-hit Abaco and Grand Bahama Islands.  The results of this reconnaissance, and all subsequent operations, were provided to the Bahamian National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), which is directing the response effort.

USAID further tasked the Fairfax County USAR team with establishing a forward base camp for the DART, which added more than 40,000 lbs and another eight team members.

In the following days, USAID’s USA-1 team worked with U.S. military partners to move over 95,000 lbs of equipment from Nassau to Marsh Harbour via airlift in US Navy CH-53 Sea Stallions, US Navy SH-60 Seahawks, US Marine V-22 Ospreys and US Army CH-47 Chinooks.

In the days since, USA-1 has performed search and rescue operations, humanitarian needs identification, and structural assessments on numerous cays and islands around Abaco Island, as well as the areas surrounding Marsh Harbour.  This has been done utilizing US Army UH-60 Blackhawks and US Army CH-47 Chinooks.

Our team holds daily meetings with NEMA, which is leading the response efforts, to ensure that our work is coordinated and effective.

Our partnership with USAID has been in place for over 30 years, and we are proud to represent them, our country, and the residents of Fairfax County.