​About AZ-TF1

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Current Strategic Plan

Download a copy of AZ-TF1's current strategic plan » (PDF, requires Adobe Reader, or equivalent.)


The Strategic Plan for Arizona Task Force 1 is designed to set goals and objectives as well as including current capabilities for the Urban Search and Rescue team on both a state-wide and national level. This strategic plan includes the Arizona Task Force 1 mission and philosophy, objectives set forth by the program manager, sponsoring agency representatives, and task force leaders, as well as decision making processes and guiding documents.
While this Strategic Plan displays goals and objectives for the next five years, an annual review of the plan will take place to revise objectives in conjunction with changing national strategies, resources, and developing technologies.

Mission and Philosophy


It is the mission of AZ-TF1 to maintain preparedness for deployment and response to Urban Search and Rescue environments on both a local and national level. Our mission is to save lives by developing, maintaining, deploying, coordinating and supporting Urban Search and Rescue resources.  We will work under the direction of an Incident Support Team to locate, provide initial medical treatment and extricate victims of incidents requiring specialized search and rescue operations. Our framework of preparedness, response, mitigation and recovery will be used to address the impacts of all types of disasters.


It is the philosophy of AZ-TF1 to maintain preparedness for deployment and response to Urban Search and Rescue environments using the highest level of training and resources on both a local and national level. Arizona Task Force 1 uses a set of core values based on the organizational policies of the sponsoring agency, Phoenix Fire Department, and the FEMA Urban Search and Rescue National Response System Code of Conduct. The core values of AZ-TF1 include:

  • Service Excellence
  • Embrace Diversity
  • Integrity and Honesty
  • Teamwork
  • Innovation
  • Honor and Respect
  • Communication

History of AZ-TF1

Disasters during the 1980s led the U.S. government to identify the needs for specialized Urban Search and Rescue due to the possibility of events that may lead to large numbers of trapped or stranded victims to be rescued in environments such as collapsed buildings, earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, floods, explosions, civil disturbances and terrorist attacks. Arizona Task Force 1 has been deployed to some of the largest and most catastrophic events in United States history including:

  • Northridge, CA Earthquake -1994
  • Oklahoma City Bombing - 1995
  • Atlanta Olympic Games - 1996
  • California Floods - 1997
  • World Trade Center, NY - 2001
  • Utah Olympic Games - 2002
  • Hurricane Katrina, LA - 2005
  • Hurricane Rita, TX - 2005
  • Hurricane Gustav, TX  - 2008
  • Hurricane Ike, TX  - 2008


Objective 1.  Maintain National and Statewide Search and Rescue Capability

It is the ultimate objective of AZ-TF1 to deploy and provide the capability of Urban Search and Rescue response on a national level when activated by FEMA, as well as a state-wide deployment capability. 

Goal 1.1 Maintain Operational Capability

  • Support the mission of the FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Response System by providing rapid deployment with search and rescue capabilities in an all-hazards environment.
  • Continue to operationally maintain, organize, equip and train all AZ-TF1 members in accordance with the  FEMA Urban Search and Rescue response system guidelines.
  • Continue to operationally maintain, organize, equip and train all AZ-TF1 members for national and statewide activation and response.

Strategy 1.1.1 Recruitment and Training

  • Recruitment and training of new task force members to an operational ready state of deployment.
  • Manage and coordinate operational capability for deployment of all current AZ-TF1 members through continued training as set forth by FEMA and the Task Force Advisory Board requirements.
  • Manage and coordinate all AZ-TF1 training records.

Action Plan

  • Conduct an annual graded self-assessment.
  • Conduct an annual large scale readiness and mobility exercise.
  • Provide recommendations for improvements to Task Force Leaders and Task Force Advisory Board.
  • Conduct training for all AZ-TF1 members to meet minimum training requirements set forth by FEMA and the Task Force Advisory Board.

Strategy 1.1.2 Equipment

  • Manage and maintain all task force cache equipment.
  • Research new technologies to be included in future equipment cache.
  • Provide training to all AZ-TF1 members on the proper use, maintenance, storage and deployment of cache equipment.

Action Plan

  • Procure equipment required in the task force cache.
  • Maintain an accurate equipment inventory.
  • Establish calibration and maintenance scheduling.
  • Perform required equipment calibration and maintenance.
  • Rotate shelf life items as required.

Strategy 1.1.3 Successfully Deploy and Redeploy Task Force

  • Successfully deploy AZ-TF1 members in accordance with the FEMA Urban Search and Rescue response system requirements.
  • Successfully demobilize AZ-TF1 members and return the cache to a ready-state.

Action Plan

  • Accurately track and document all aspects of deployment and task completion.
  • Maintain safety in all aspects of activation, deployment and demobilization.
  • Conduct an After Action Review  (AAR) following each deployment and implement necessary improvements.

Objective 2.  Monitor Organizational and Technological Changes

It is the objective of AZ-TF1 to ensure safe and effective mission activation and deployment by monitoring organizational and technological changes to permit the acquisition and maintenance of all state-of-the-art equipment.

Goal 2.1 Technology and the Urban Search and Rescue System

  • Research technical and scientific changes and their incorporation into Urban Search and Rescue equipment that may be relevant to enhance AZ-TF1's safety and efficiency.
  • Research organization and management changes and their incorporation into the Urban Search and Rescue management structure that may be relevant to enhance AZ-TF1's safety, efficiency and organizational structure.

Strategy 2.1.1 Enhancement of Organization and Technology

  • Enhance the system of equipment acquisition, tracking and maintenance.
  • Enhance the organizational structure to promote unified themes throughout Advisory Board, Program Manager, Task Force Leaders, Work Groups and Operational Personnel.

Action Plan

  • Manage and coordinate Task Force meeting to ensure organization and defined roles on all levels from leadership to operational levels and update annually.
  • Implement Research and Development Program to ensure Urban Search and Rescue operations have the most current available equipment.
  • Adapt the most efficient equipment and services so the Task Force cache is standardized and appropriately configured.
  • Manage and coordinate program to fund, replace and update Urban Search and Rescue equipment and vehicles annually.

Objective 3 - State of the Art Training Facility

Strategy 3.1.1

  • Given the current and anticipated growth of AZ-TF1, increase training props to simulate various rescue scenarios. The current props include a confined space area, rubble pile and burn building.

Action Plan

  • Annually assess the AZ-TF1 training facility and infrastructure.
  • Annually review the task force skills not currently supported by the training facilities.
  • Based upon annual evaluations of capabilities, determine proposed infrastructure additions for required training and skills.
  • In order to continue to provide the best training to the members of the respective specialties involved in the different aspects of Urban Search and Rescue, provide additional training props. Specifically, a permanent trench prop and a repel training tower. The additions of these key equipment props are essential to provide new and current technicians with the most realistic training possible.

Decision Making Process

AZ-TF1 Decision Making Process

It is critical that AZ-TF1 develop and implement a decision making process modeled after the FEMA National US&R response system or the Sponsoring Agency policy. The process provides the program manager an opportunity to manage resources more effectively, without  being directly involved in every aspect. The ability to delegate various minor command and control functions promotes and ensures efficient information exchange, diverse input into every aspect of the program and a coordinated approach to decision making.

AZ-TF1 Guiding Documents

Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Urban Search and Rescue Response Systems Operations Manual

The Operations Manual provides a detailed overview of the FEMA US&R National System including:

  • A description of the composition and capabilities of the Federal Urban Search and Rescue assets.
  • A description of the process through which US&R task forces will be alerted, activated and deployed upon implementation of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. 
  • Delineates organizational responsibilities and roles.
  • Outlines how Federal US&R assets will be allocated during disasters.
  • Provides procedures and guidelines for transporting task forces during disasters.
  • Describes the purpose of the mobilization center, staging areas and activities related to the task force's occupation of these facilities.
  • Identifies the procedures for on-site operations, task force reassignment and demobilization.

AZ-TF1 Administrative Manual

The AZ-TF1 Administrative Manual describes the task force day-to-day operations policies and procedures including:

  • Member recruitment, assignment and separation policies
  • Member pay reimbursement policies
  • Travel policies and procedures
  • Position Descriptions for the Program Manager and staff
  • Organizational Charts
  • Issuance and return of PPE
  • Workman's Compensation procedures
  • Ethics policy and Code of Conduct
  • Audit and inspection policies
  • Public Relations Activities
  • Family support during deployments
  • Responsibilities of AZ-TF1 FEMA Work Groups or IST members
  • Federal, State and local EEO policies

Advisory Organization

Sponsoring Advisory Chief

The Sponsoring Agency Chief is responsible for the selection and appointment of individuals to fill vacancies in the Advisory Organization. Work Group members are appointed and serve at the discretion of the Sponsoring Agency Chief.

Task Force Advisory Board

The Task Force Advisory Board provides strategic planning recommendations for the task force by meeting formally every quarter or when issues may need to be addressed. The Advisory Board provides professional recommendations and technical assistance to the Sponsoring Agency Chief, Task Force Program Manager and Task Force Leaders on policy, fiscal and procedural issues that effect AZ-TF1 and the National Urban Search and Rescue Response System including any other participating agencies. The Advisory Board continues to support the development, operation and maintenance of AZ-TF1.

Program Manager

The Task Force Program Manager is responsible for administering all aspects of the Sponsoring Agency's requirements to the National US&R Response System in accordance with the terms outlined in the Memorandum of Agreement and the Readiness Cooperative Agreement. The Task Force Program Manager is responsible for the development and maintenance of AZ-TF1 to include preparedness, training and ensuring equipment is stored and maintained for rapid mobilization and deployment. In addition, the Task Force Program Manager is required to prepare and manage the annual budget, implement procedures, collect and store data and maintain facilities required to support AZ-TF1.

Advisory Organization

Task Force Leaders

The Task Force Leader is responsible for managing all aspects of a mission including operational and administrative issues from the time of activation through the return to the home jurisdiction. This includes all personnel and equipment resources, as well as overseeing and directly supervising the task force management. The TFL is responsible for the development and completion of all task force tactical objectives, as well as the proper reporting, record keeping and after action requirements. The TFL reports directly to the DHS/FEMA NRCC during the mobilization and demobilization phases of the mission and the IST at a mission location.

Description of Duties:

  • Developing and implementing the Task Force Tactical Action Plan.
  • Addressing the coordination, management and supervision of all task force activities.
  • Supervising the following positions:

Search Team Manager
Rescue Team Manager
Medical Team Manager
Logistics Team Manager
Planning Team Manager
Hazardous Materials Team Manager
Safety Officer

  • Ensuring the development of all task force organizational and logistical needs.
  • Interacting with the IST Leader and/or designee for coordination of all task force activities and support requirements.
  • Receiving briefings and ensuring that all TF personnel are kept informed of mission objectives and status changes.
  • Providing regular situation reports to the IST.
  • Providing regular reports to the Sponsoring Agency Chief.
  • Performing additional tasks and duties as assigned during a mission.
  • Ensuring the completion of all the required reports and maintenance of records.
  • Ensuring incident stress management activities are planned and conducted.
  • Ensuring resource acquisitions are properly processed.
  • Preparing performance evaluations for assigned personnel.
  • Managing all demobilization and return to readiness issues.
  • Performing additional tasks or duties as assigned.

Working Group

A Working Group is comprised of Task Force members assembled to perform specific functions to meet ongoing goals and objectives of AZ-TF1. Working Groups identify issues and solutions that affect task force tactics and field operations. In addition, Working Groups will address issues of consequence within the specific discipline and forward recommendations to the Task Force Leaders. The Working Groups follow the FEMA US&R model and are composed of Task Force Leaders, Managers and Specialists from their respective disciplines.