Baltimore County firefighters dispatched to Hurricane Irma

Posted at 11:34 PM, Sep 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-07 23:35:31-04

Four Baltimore County firefighters heading south to Hurricane Irma, according to the fire department.

They're being dispatched through FEMA's Pennsylvania Task Force 1 and will be stationed in Alabama until the massive storm makes landfall in the U.S.

"Basically, these are people who have specific search and rescue skills," said fire department spokesperson Elise Armacost.

Each of the Task Force first responders trains for dozens of hours a year to make rescues and deal with HAZMAT situations in disaster areas.

"Structural collapse, confined space, trench, swift water, boat operator. It's a constant thing that goes on all year long," said Baltimore County Fire Lieutenant Paul Cusic.

Cusic served on PA Task Force 1 for 10 years. He says crew members also require expert knowledge of a laundry list of equipment items like heavy duty ropes, power wedges, boats, inflatable bags strong enough to lift 20 tons and much more.

The county says most of the Task Force members will be deployed for about 2 weeks.

"This is the way we ensure that the right people with the right skills are down there helping those people when they need it," Armacost said.

The county also said that five first responders dispatched to Texas after Hurricane Harvey are now on their way home.