Area firefighters deploy to East Coast with Missouri Task Force 1

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Updated Sunday Nov 4: Provided by MO-TF1 Public Information Officer.
Missouri Task Force 1
All photos courtesy of Boone County Fire

Missouri Task Force 1 completed their mission Saturday in Long Beach, Long Island, NY. They are en route to Fort Dix, NJ for the night and will be flown by Chinook Helicopter to New York City to continue with search and rescue missions along with humanitarian efforts.

All members are doing well and glad to be working.

Boone County, Mo. – Missouri has one of 28 federally funded Task Forces across the country.

Public Information Officer (PIO) Gale Bolmenkamp, told Quick News “Missouri Task Force 1 (MO-TF1) is comprised of 210 members, which gives us three separate 70 member teams.  They’re on a rotating schedule…any given month a different group of 70 people are available.  Members come from all over the state from St. Louis to Kansas City and everywhere in between.”

From a local standpoint, numerous firefighters and paramedics from across Franklin County are a part of MO-TF1.

This deployment included five firefighters from the Union Fire Department; Joe Straatmann, Matt Tobben, Kevin Wissman, RB Brownand, and Alex Szpatoski, along with Jeff Buchheit, former New Haven Fire Chief.

Bolmenkamp said, “Monday MO-TF1 was placed on alert in the event we would be activated for Hurricane Sandy.  Late Monday night, FEMA activated MO-TF1 to respond to the east coast for search and rescue missions.”

Bolmenkamp also mentioned that the 210 members are all volunteers until they are physically deployed, at which time they become a federal paid employee.

However, for the countless number of hours of training required, they are not paid.

The last time MO-TF1 was sent on a Federal deployment was during Hurricane Ike in 2008.

Below is a timeline of events, leading up to MO-TF1 deployment to the most recent updates provided through Boone County Fire’s Facebook page.

Tuesday morning at 2 a.m., MO-TF1 departed from their headquarters located at the Boone County Fire Department.

Initially, the team received orders to depart for Herndon, VA. for standby.

The team was then diverted to McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey.

Wednesday: MO-TF1 and Ohio TF-1 were assigned as Rapid Response Force Packages. Two Chinook and six Blackhawk Helicopters were also available for any search and rescue missions in the area.

Later on Wednesday, MO-TF1 was sent to Flushing, NY, and then moved to Maritime College, located in the Bronx, on Wednesday night.

Friday:  In the morning, MO-TF1 was sent to Long Island, NY where they were assigned to a wide area search mission in five different areas within Long Beach, Long Island.  Their mission included going door to door in areas that have been extremely difficult to access.

Friday at 11 a.m., Bolmenkamp provided an update that MO-TF1 was searching a 10 x 15 block area of Long Beach and Long Island, NY.

The area was flooded by the storm surge causing numerous trees and power lines down in the area with moderate damage to some residences.

A second team was in Freeport, NY searching a small residential area. They reported seeing similar conditions.

MO-TF1 completed their mission around 2 p.m. in Freeport, NY.  They returned back to Long Beach, Long Island to meet up with the remainder of the team.

As of the latest update at 4 p.m. Friday, MO-TF1 was doing a wide area search in Long Beach, Long Island, NY, going house to house checking on residents and doing anything possible to assist.

Quick News will keep you updated on how our local firefighters are doing as well as MO-TF1.

Be safe and God Bless.