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Phoenix Approves Deal To Stay FEMA Deployable

Arizona Task Force One
(Photo by Phoenix Fire Department)
A member of Arizona Task Force One responding to Houston after Hurricane Harvey.

After responding to Houston, an Arizona task force is on its way to Florida in preparation for Hurricane Irma. On Wednesday, Phoenix council members approved a deal to keep Phoenix nationally deployable.

The Phoenix Fire Department is the lead agency for Arizona Task Force One (AZ-TF1). It’s among 28 urban search and rescue response teams that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) relies on.

Phoenix Fire Captain Larry Subervi said this is the first time the Arizona task force has been deployed in back-to-back natural disasters. 

“It’s a pretty big honor for them to be called into action again and to get to help again," Subervi said. "They are just looking forward to the opportunity.”

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton praised the team’s efforts at Wednesday’s city council meeting.

“We are so thankful to have one of the best and most respected urban search and rescue teams in the country," Stanton said. "And because they’re so good, they get called out to serve people in need.”

Hurricane Irma, a record breaking storm, is expected to barrel into Florida this weekend. AZ-TF1 will stay in Louisiana, then move East into Alabama as they await the storm.

As soon as FEMA activation is received, AZ-TF1 is required to deploy within four hours by road or six hours by air. To be nationally deployable, the task force is required to buy, maintain, supply and store certain supplies and medications.

Council members approved a five year contract with Banner — University Medical Center. The hospital will store the pharmaceuticals at no cost, but the fire department could spend up to $100,000 to replenish expired drugs.

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.