The Bike Team was formed to enable the Division of Fire to respond in a more efficient and effective manner to emergencies at events, which cover a large area but have limited apparatus access due to crowds, lack of roads, or geographical features of the area. The Bike Team is regularly deployed at events such as NASCAR Sprint Cup races, Indy races and the State Fair. The team currently has forty members.
The Division of Fire Bike Team usually operates four teams of two personnel. Each team is made up of one Advanced Life Support (ALS) provider and one Basic Life Support (BLS) provider. Between the two members of each team they carry basic ALS and BLS equipment and supplies to include a defibrillator, advanced airway capabilities and cardiac drug therapy. A portable fire extinguisher and Nomex coveralls are carried for minor firefighting capability.
Bike Team members have been credited with saving at least two lives utilizing quick response, defibrillation and CPR.
The HIT team was formed in 1981, with the purpose of responding to hazardous chemical emergencies in the County that exceeded the knowledge and capabilities of the average first responders. In 1987, an agreement was signed with the Virginia Department of Emergency Services (VDES) that placed the team under a contract for regional response. Thus, upon request of VDES, the HIT team, unless otherwise engaged within Henrico County, will respond to hazardous materials (hazmat) events anywhere in the central portion of Virginia. VDES in turn provides training for the team and reimburses the team for costs incurred while on regional calls. The contract also provides for an annual allotment to be used by the team to purchase equipment and other necessary supplies.
The team consists of approximately 40 members, most are trained to the Specialist level and the remainders are trained to the Technician level. The team responds with three vehicles that carry extensive communication equipment, chemical protective clothing, detection and monitoring equipment, and a reference library.
The team responds to approximately 30 calls a year. Most of these are not full team deployments and are handled by the on-duty fire fighters with the equipment on the truck. The calls range in nature from transportation accidents involving highly toxic acids to chlorine leaks in industrial facilities to illegal drug labs. The most common types of calls involve flammable liquids such as gasoline.
The Vehicles used by the HIT team:
HAZMAT 1 – 2006 Freightliner. It has communication equipment, detection and monitoring equipment, and a reference library
HAZMAT 2 – 2006 Freightliner 5 man tractor and 36ft trailer. It has protective clothing, changing room for 6 people and decontamination equipment.
HAZMAT 3 – 1994 International 22′ box truck that carries tools, absorbents, and other necessary equipment.
Search Rescue and Dive Team
The Search, Rescue, Dive (SRT) Team was originally formed in the early 1980’s as the “Tactical Rescue Team.” Its initial functions were that of high angle and water rescue. High angle rescue was soon given to the truck companies (those companies with aerial ladder trucks), and the team retained only the water rescue functions. For years, the team remained nearly inactive. In 1988, the team became involved in ground search functions; and in 1990, after the Division of Police gave up its diving capabilities, the team began to train its own divers.
Currently, there are 29 members on the SRT. Fifteen of these members are on call-back status and have digital pagers. There are presently 15 divers, but there will soon be 22 approved divers after the upcoming Public Safety Diver course. As a minimum, all team members are certified as Ground Search and Rescue Field Responders, and six members are also certified as Field Team Members (the next step up). In addition, all team members have completed Ohio Swift Water Rescue.
The team owns one rigid hull Bombard Explorer boat with 60 HP outboard motor and one C5 Bombard inflatable boat with 28 HP jet power engine and 25 HP reserve outboard motor. Both boats will soon have VHF marine radio capabilities in order to communicate with surrounding jurisdictions and the Coast Guard. The team has a command vehicle which has all normal radio capabilities and will soon have the S.I.R.S. radio for communication with law enforcement agencies. The boats are pulled by either a utility body tow vehicle or a van tow vehicle. The team also currently has a Yamaha Wave Adventure jet drive on a loaner program. The SRT team has the equipment to place up to 8 divers in the water at once. It also has two drysuits and wireless communications for two divers.
Technical Rescue Team
The Henrico Technical Rescue Team (HTRT) was organized in 1990. The original purpose was to be able to respond to unusual rescue situations in Henrico County, particularly those which involve collapsed structures or require extensive rope techniques. The team is now capable of responding to incidents involving confined spaces, high angle rescue (vertical rope operations), low angle rescue (horizontal or near-horizontal rope operations), trench collapse, structure collapse, vehicle extrication, heavy equipment extrication, or any combination of these.
The HTR team consists of 25 core members (the most readily available and most highly trained members), and numerous other support members. These support members are trained in various types of advanced rescue techniques and are used to assist the core team in rescue operations. The team members operate three vehicles: a rescue engine (combination suppression unit & heavy rescue vehicle), an aerial platform ladder truck, and a rescue support unit (Sterling tractor trailer unit). The HTRT also utilizes engineers from the Henrico Planning & Zoning Department. These engineers are trained is disaster response damage assessment and participate regularly in team training.
The onset of the program identified a need to coordinate regional resources, and Henrico TRT regularly responds regionally to assist other jurisdictions. This regional response concept was formalized in 2004 through a Technical Rescue Mutual Aid agreement with Chesterfield County Fire Department. There have been several incidents in which the two teams integrated their personnel and equipment in order to mitigate the situation. The team trains frequently with Chesterfield, Hanover, and Richmond Fire Departments.