West Virginia Regional Response Team Task Force 1
The West Virginia Regional Response Program was formed as a result of the events of September 11, 2001. When the Department of Homeland Security began to release grant funds for states to prepare for acts of terrorism, West Virginia developed a regional approach for response to all types of hazards including natural disasters. The program was born under the then Office of Emergency Services (now known as the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management) and has transitioned to be placed under the operational control of the West Virginia State Fire Marshal, Sterling Lewis, Jr.
The Charleston Fire Department is one of the “host” departments for the Regional Response Team. It houses a Hazmat/Weapons of Mass Destruction Mitigation Unit, Heavy Duty Urban Search and Rescue Unit and Light and Air Support Unit. The fire department has over 30 members that are part of Task Force 1.
The Charleston Fire Department has the largest number of hazardous materials technicians of all fire departments in the state of West Virginia. They are trained, not only in basic response skills, but also have specialized training in weapons of mass destruction, radiological and tank car emergencies. Due to the heavy concentration of chemical manufacturers and chemical transportation throughout the Kanawha Valley, this team is a valuable asset to the citizens of Charleston and surrounding areas.
Along with the Hazardous Materials Team, the fire department also provides the manpower for the only Heavy Urban Search and Rescue response unit in the state of West Virginia. The team responds to all incidents where structural damage to buildings has occured or has the potential to occur. This includes, but is not limited to, natural disasters, acts of terrorism and compromised structural integrity.