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 – 2010 International 4400 Box Truck that carries tools, absorbents, and other necessary equipment.
Robotics Response Team
The Henrico Robotics Response Team, formed in 2018, aims to further the Division’s Mission by incorporating small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) into operations. As advances in aerial technology continued to develop in the public and private sector, the Division recognized the value in this emerging resource. Increased situational awareness, decreased risk to responders, and the timely mitigation of emergency incidents are all supported by the integration of sUAS with the fire service. Examples of application include, but are not limited to:
- Search and rescue missions
- Remote monitoring of hazardous incidents
- Aerial assessment of wildfires
- Ongoing situational awareness at commercial and high rise fires
- Efficient assessment of natural disasters
In addition to the improved situational awareness afforded by basic aerial imagery, the team is also equipped to fly thermal imaging cameras over various emergency scenes. This invaluable tool allows fire service personnel a critical view of missing persons, fire spread, and the structural integrity of compromised buildings. The ability to carry and drop certain items via sUAS is also a function of the team. These items could include throw ropes during water rescue and hazardous materials monitors.
These capabilities combine to provide numerous methods for increasing the efficiency, effectiveness, and safety of operations. The Robotics Response Team deploys out of Firehouse 19, with all of its members trained as FAA certified sUAS pilots.
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 more than thirty members on the SRT with expertise in ground search, swift water rescue, and dive rescue. The team is split between Fire House 2 in the east end of the county and Fire House 17 in the west end of the county. In partnership with the County’s Sheriff’s Department, the team also works closely with “Project Lifesaver.”
The team deploys:
- Two DIB’s inflatable rescue sleds with jet drive engines to provide aid to those in need in swift water rescue.
- 32’ Munson Fire Boat which is capable of flowing 2000 GPM during a shipboard firefighting incident or providing a water supply to units located near the shore for firefighting operations. The Fire Boat acts as the team’s water based dive platform and as a water-based search and rescue unit.
- Surface supply system allowing three divers to have air supply from the surface providing the safest way to conduct dive operations.
- Constant communications to the surface through their full-face diving mask.
The SRT is also part of the Marine Incident Response Team (MIRT) through a partnership with the Port of Virginia. This partnership provides valuable training to the members and resources to the citizens of Henrico in the event of a water-borne incident.
Technical Rescue Team
The Henrico Technical Rescue Team 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, surface and swift-water rescues or any combination of these.
The Henrico TRT consists of 32 core members (the most readily available and most highly trained members), and numerous other support members. The team members operate four vehicles: a rescue engine (combination suppression unit & heavy rescue vehicle), an aerial platform ladder truck, a rescue support unit (Sterling tractor trailer unit) and an ALS transport unit.
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. Henrico County is also a participating agency with FEMA USAR VATF-2, based in Virginia Beach. The Division has ten (10) personnel rostered with VATF-2. Personnel have participated in deployments since 2012 to include Hurricane Sandy in New York to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.