Emergency Response Division - Special Operations

Emergency Response Division - Special Operations
The Hazardous Materials Team
The Dive Rescue Team
The Technical Rescue Team
The SWAT Medic Team

The Special Operations Section comprises all the specialty units whose activities include unconventional operations and tactics other than fire suppression and emergency medical services. The Fire Service, and specifically the City of Miami Fire-Rescue Department, constantly strive to improve the services to the citizens they serve. In this ever - changing effort, the following specialty teams have been established:

Hazardous Materials Team
The Hazardous Materials Team, which is based at Station 1, was started around 1978. It was one of the first of its kind established in the country, and the first in Miami-Dade County. The Team started as the Special Tactics Team that was analogous to a Police SWAT team. As the team evolved, the fire service became increasingly involved with chemicals and hazardous materials. The team was renamed the Hazardous Materials Team. The concept was the brain child of Chief Herman Brice, who focused on the changing needs of the community and formed a team that eventually specialized in the mitigation of incidents involving hazardous materials or suspected unknown hazardous materials.

The Hazardous Materials team responds to all suspicious material calls, as well as spills, leaks, and breeches of vessels containing potentially dangerous chemicals or unknown substances. All HazMat members, including the Rescue and District Chief, are Hazardous Materials Technicians.
The team responded to 697 alarms last year. This was almost twice compared to the previous year. Most of the alarms were repercussions from the September 11th tragedy and the anthrax incidents and confusion that followed.

Following the September 11th attacks, the Hazardous Materials Team has become increasingly important in the community. The team has been intensely involved in the preparation for responses to incidents involving weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Dive Rescue Team
The Dive Rescue Team was initiated in 1993 and was the result of the many water incidents that occurred in the City of Miami and its surrounding waterways. Miami-Dade County already had a dive team in place and through a joint cooperation between the City and the County, particularly the County's Captain Ed Brown, the City’s team was born.

Miami Fire-Rescue’s Station 5 is the Dive Team’s base station and has approximately 60 SCUBA trained divers, including two rescue units. These specialists respond to any incident that happens within the city limits. If requested, the Team could respond in conjunction with Dive Teams from other municipalities on large scale incidents, i.e., a plane crash, or where combined resources would facilitate a better response. An incident like this happened in the 1990's when a Value Jet airplane crashed in the Everglades.

Technical Rescue Team
This specialized group of firefighters are stationed at Miami Fire-Rescue’s Station 6. These firefighters are trained in several specialized operations including confined space rescues, trench rescues, and incidents involving elevated positions such as cranes or skyscrapers. This is the newest of the specialty teams, and was the idea of Lt. Frank Mainade. This team was established in 2002, and has been used extensively all over Miami-Dade County. The Team is one of two in the county; the other belongs to the Miami-Dade County Fire-Rescue Department. Once again, through joint cooperation of Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami, a new component has been added to better serve the citizens county-wide and within the city. The TRT (Technical Rescue Team) is comprised of 42 men and women trained in accordance with TRT standards.

SWAT Medic Team
The SWAT Medic Team, created in November, 1979, is the first fire - based tactical medic team established in the United States. Members of this team are specialized paramedic/firefighters that train and respond with the Miami Police SWAT Team on tactical operations. Their role is to provide medical support to the members of the Miami Police SWAT Team during these operations. They are also available to provide immediate, on - the - scene medical aid to citizens if necessary. This team was formed as a joint effort to prepare for the many terrorist events taking place in our country. Chief Michael Essex, of the Fire-Rescue Department, Chief Michael Cosgrove, and Lieutenant Robert Sullivan, of the Miami Police Department were the architects of this concept.
There are presently 20 SWAT Paramedics assigned to this team on three shifts.