The Gastonia Fire Department’s Special Operations Division is comprised of two branches, hazardous materials mitigation, and technical rescue. Each branch achieves top performance through coordinated training and education programs taught throughout the U.S.
There are 39 members of the special operations division. These members are cross-trained in rescue and hazardous materials with additional specialty training. The rescue branch has received highly specialized training in disciplines including high angle rescue, confined space rescue, and swift water rescue, from experts that are internationally renowned. The rescue team’s training, along with the equipment and personnel that they provide, has led to the team being the most requested certified heavy rescue team in Gaston County.
The hazardous materials branch, in an effort to continually expand their disciplines, has taken classes to receive specialist certification in “weapons of mass destruction.” The required classes allow the team members to obtain specialized training through the Department of Homeland Security. Some of the specialties are: biological response, taught at Ft. McClellan, Alabama; radiological response, taught at a Nevada test site; and explosive response, taught at New Mexico Tech in Socorro, New Mexico. These courses will ensure the Gastonia Fire Department’s hazardous materials team is ready to meet new challenges confronting emergency responders today.
The rescue and hazardous materials branches are able to meet these challenges thanks to the state-of-the-art equipment and specialized apparatus vehicles obtained through municipal budgets as well as Department of Homeland Security grants.
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