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Special Operations

The Valley Regional Fire Authority serves a diverse demographic and geographic area that includes steep ravines, lakes and rivers as well as a significant industrial community. Many times we are summoned to provide specialized rescue services and Hazardous Materials first response efforts in these unique areas. The VRFA has specially trained fire fighters and tools to meet these demands. The following sections summarize our water rescue, high angle rescue, and hazardous materials first response capabilities.

Water Rescue

The VRFA has joined with the Renton Fire Department to provide underwater (SCUBA) rescue and recovery for our region, known as King County Fire Zone 3. This joint response effort is designed to make sure that adequate personnel and equipment are available when needed to carry out these high-risk and labor intensive operations. Supervised by a Battalion Chief, sixteen VRFA firefighters and officers are specially trained and certified in rescue operations and technical support roles. When dispatched to a water rescue call within Zone 3, these specially trained VRFA and Renton firefighters respond simultaneously, allowing specially trained rescuers to mobilize and deploy in the least amount of time possible. For more information on public safety SCUBA rescue go to

Swift Water Rescue

The VRFA also cross trains your SCUBA rescue personnel as swift-water rescue technicians. This dual role function allows us to deal with water rescue incidents that do not require SCUBA divers. With their specially equipped boats, rope rescue equipment and certified rescue swimmers, your VRFA personnel stand ready to be deployed 24/7/365. By utilizing partnerships with the other King County Fire Zone 3 agencies, this technical resource can be quickly mobilized to assist in rescuing people from floods and water related recreational incidents on the area's rivers and lakes. The VRFA is committed to preventing water related accidents through public education on water safety practices. If you want additional information on water safety visit the following links or call the VRFA Public Education division at 253-288-5800.

Hazardous Materials

The VRFA is a partner in the South King County Hazardous-Materials (Haz-Mat) providers group. This group consists of seven fire agencies who share the responsibility of providing Haz-Mat emergency response to the region with firefighters trained to the highest level, known as "Level-A Technicians." Technician-certified personnel are equipped to respond with specialized vehicles, tools and protective equipment allowing them to take appropriate action to stabilize a spill or release. Haz-Mat Technicians are trained to deal with a broad spectrum of emergencies, ranging from spills of industrial products that are used in manufacturing and transported over the roadways, to releases of products that are transported over the region's vast railway network. These technicians are also trained in first response to weapons of mass destruction (WMD) incidents where chemical, biological, radiological and/or nuclear dispersal devices might be employed by criminal or terrorist elements. VRFA members who are not trained to the technician level are trained to First Responder-Operations level.

The Hazardous Materials personnel respond utilizing a converted passenger bus which is fully equipped with monitoring tools and mitigation equipment. This unit is also available as a major incident support vehicle, with back up communications capability and other tools to assist in managing large scale emergency operations, or as a back up command center during disaster operations.


Urban Search and Rescue

The VRFA has five personnel assigned to Washington Task Force 1, a FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Team serving the northwest region of the country. Twenty-eight of these USAR teams are strategically located throughout the United States with the mission of assisting rescue operations in large scale, federally declared disasters. Each task force is equipped with a cache of equipment that accompanies them to the disaster area and contains everything from listening devices to search cameras, and includes items such as food, water, and clothing. The cache is designed to fully support the needs of each task force without outside assistance for many days. In August of 2005, VRFA USAR firefighters responded with Washington Task Force 1 to the Gulf States in response to Hurricane Katrina.

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