Urban Search And Rescue (USAR) Team
Plano Fire-Rescue's Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Team operates out of Station 4 and provides the following rescue services:
- Swift Water
- Trench Collapse
- High Angle
- Heavy Vehicle Rescue
- Structural Collapse (USAR).
The team as we know it today was formed in 1999 in an attempt to consolidate all of the USAR disciplines at one centrally located station and to come into compliance with NFPA 1670 and NFPA 1006. Prior to that, the USAR disciplines were assigned around the city at the double company stations, with each station responsible for one discipline.
Today, fire department members volunteer for the open spots at Station 4. Once approved members are assigned to Station 4 with the understanding that they have to complete their training within a reasonable time frame based upon training funds and class availability. The latest training standard for USAR team members requires the completion of:
- Rope Rescue Technician
- Swift Water Rescue Technician
- Trench Rescue Technician
- Heavy Vehicle Rescue Technician
- Structural Collapse
After meeting the minimum standard for training, members are also encouraged to continue their education by attending specialized training. Personnel must take part in quarterly drills and recertify/refresh their certifications periodically. Most of the USAR training is conducted at Tarrant County College Fire Service Training Facility in Fort Worth or the TEEX Brayton Fire Training Field in College Station.
The equipment used in the USAR program has changed drastically over the years. When the team was formed, crews performed trench rescue with manual screw jacks and cut sections of drill stem as shores. The team utilized a borrowed inflatable boat with a 10 HP motor for swift water and the rope rescue equipment was older than some of the members on the team. Equipment was carried in trailers that the Hazardous Materials Team and other city departments had outgrown. Today, the team operates with top of the line hydraulic shoring systems, a brand new Zodiac rescue boat with 40 HP motor, and technical search cameras and listening devices. All equipment is carried in new or re-furbished and better designed cargo trailers and a Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) heavy rescue vehicle. Both Engine 4 and Truck 4 carry a compliment of rope rescue and swift water equipment. Much of this equipment was purchased with FEMA grants and Fireman’s Fund Grants following 9-11.
The SRT also participates in regional and state-wide mutual aid systems to provide assistance to our neighboring communities or anywhere we could be needed in the State. The team has responded to numerous incidents in and around Plano over the years as well as provided several weeks worth of assistance along the Gulf Coast to those affected by Hurricane Harvey.
With national security and natural disasters a constant concern with most Americans and amid an aging infrastructure and continuous urban growth, it is certain that USAR services will become increasingly important in the future. The Plano Fire-Rescue Special Rescue Team is poised to meet the challenges of the ever changing fire service while providing the citizens of Plano and Texans with the technical rescue services they have come to expect.