Urban Search & Rescue

​Share this page​

AZ Task Force OneFire AZTF1 Logo

It is the mission of Arizona Task Force 1 (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.

AZ-TF1 has four main groups: Search Team, Rescue Team, Medical Team and Technical Team. The Search Team uses dogs, listening devices, Search-Cams and other technical search equipment to find victims buried under the debris of a disaster. The Rescue Team is skilled in rescue tactics and techniques such as in breaching and extrications, rope rescue operations, confined space rescue, shoring and stabilization. The Medical Team is responsible for all team member medical needs. The Technical Team includes structure specialists such as engineers, hazardous materials specialists, heavy rigging specialists, equipment specialists, communications and logistics specialists.  

AZ-TF1 is one of six Task Forces that is Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) certified having received extensive training in responding to incidents involving chemical, biological or radiological agents.


Washington State Mudslide - Oso, Washington - April  2014  - Canine UnitsFire AZTF1 John Dean & Booter

Two dog handlers and their canines from the Phoenix Fire Department left this morning to assist in the search and recovery efforts in Snohomish County, Washington following the severe mudslides that occurred March 22, 2014. These are two of twenty “Canine Search Teams – Human Remains Detection” being deployed to the disaster area by FEMA. 

Phoenix firefighters and their canine search and rescue partners will demonstrate some of their tasks and training at the Phoenix Fire Department Special Operations rubble pile. In addition to search and alert exercises, information will be provided about canine training and certification.

Arizona Search Dogs and their handlers are mobilized with FEMA Urban Search and Rescue task forces. Each highly specialized canine and handler team must be certified through FEMA in search and rescue. There are less than 200 certified canine and handler teams in the United States. Fire AZTF1 Tim Steckler & RogueDisaster canines are trained to locate victims and indicate the position where the strongest scent is found with a focused bark alert.

Twenty-two people are still unaccounted for in the 1.3 square mile mudslide area, 15 to 20 feet deep in some areas.



Washington State Mudslide - Oso, Washington - March 2014 

Two Phoenix Fire Department members and one structural engineer were deployed to assist in the search and rescue efforts following the severe mudslides that occurred Saturday in Snohomish County, Washington.  At least 14 people were killed when a 1,500 foot-wide hillside suddenly sheered away and fell towards dozens of homes in its path. Over 150 people remain unaccounted for.

Members from AZ-TF1 joined over 100 others searching for survivors in difficult, quicksand-like conditions. FEMA Task force members provided technical and command assistance as well as logistical support to the local, State and Federal rescuers.

 AZ-TF1 is one of 28 National Urban Search and Rescue teams that are prepared to deploy in response to local or national disasters. Task forces are located throughout the United States. The deployment is estimated to continue for 14 days.

Hurricane Katrina - New Orleans, Louisiana - August 2005

Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster - Southwest debris recovery - February 2003

Hurricane Gustav - Galveston, Texas - September 2002

Winter Olympics - Salt Lake City, Utah, deployed to local military base on standby in case of attack or disaster - February 2002

World Trade Center Attacks - New York City, New York - September 2001

Oklahoma City Bombing - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma - April 1995

Northridge Earthquake - Los Angeles, California - January 1994

9/11 Terrorist Attack -  New York, New York - September  2001

The Phoenix Fire Department's Urban Search and Rescue Team returned to Phoenix on Friday, September 28th after spending eight days at the World Trade Center site in New York City.

Sixty-three members of AZ-TF1 arrived at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey on Thursday (9/20), and were transported to New York in the afternoon. Rescue and Recovery efforts at the World Trade Center site were called off that evening due to weather. AZ-TF1 members began their work on Friday morning.

The team was divided into two shifts - a 12-hour day shift and a 12-hour night shift. They were assisting the Fire Department of New York in The Plaza area, which is located between Towers 1 and 2, and buildings 4 and 5. Their work involved cutting with torches and steel work. They also used the search cameras and dogs to help in the recovery of victims. Unfortunately, no victims were found alive.

 All of the workers at the World Trade Center site have been making significant progress. Some of the streets have been getting cleared, and several businesses began to re-open, as close as two blocks away from the site.

AZTF members reported that on their way to and from the World Trade Center site, the streets were lined with people holding signs and shouting, "We Love You!" Many celebrities have been lending a hand to the hundreds of workers, as well. Debra Winger, Matthew Modine, Susan Sarandon, Sigourney Weaver, Loretta Swit, Bianca Jagger and more have either stopped by to help serve food to the rescuers, or to just say, "Hi!"

The team members worked hard during their week in New York, but felt it was worth every minute to support their fellow fire and police department brothers and sisters.