Phoenix Fire task force to help New Mexico with search, rescue and recovery after deadly wildfires

Jun 21, 2024, 7:26 AM

PHOENIX — A task force from the Phoenix Fire Department headed out to New Mexico on Friday morning.

The Arizona Task Force 1 team will help authorities in New Mexico deal with devastation caused by wildfires that have killed two people, triggered evacuations and destroyed hundreds of homes.

President Joe Biden issued a disaster declaration on Thursday, which sent more funding and resources to help New Mexico firefighters.

The Arizonan task force will be focused on search, rescue and recovery, according to Phoenix Fire Captain Shaun DuBois.

He said a call from the Federal Emergency Management Agency asked Arizona Task Force 1 to join the battle against the wildfires. It’s one of 28 FEMA task forces across the nation.

“Due to proximity and then the type of capabilities that we offer with skillsets and equipment in the readiness to deploy, we were activated and requested to come help support, New Mexico,” DuBois told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Friday morning.

How will Arizona Task Force 1 help New Mexico?

Although the task force is mainly prepared to save survivors and recover bodies, its members are prepared to switch gears if conditions change due to rain and potential flooding.

The team started heading out around 5 a.m. on Friday. They rolled out with boats, four-wheelers and trucks and trailers filled with equipment.

The 51 people on this task force are ready to stay in New Mexico for weeks, DuBois said.

“We have a really broad range of skills and specialized equipment,” DuBois said.

That includes swift water rescue capabilities, structural collapse, confined space, heavy rescue and hazardous materials detection.

The team can also help with emergency paramedicine. They’re also bringing rescue dogs that can help locate live victims or recover bodies, DuBois said.

“This is an opportunity to go help out another community in need,” he said. “It’s a badge and honor for these men and women to go be able to serve.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jim Cross and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Phoenix Fire task force to help New Mexico with search, rescue and recovery after deadly wildfires