As part of a statewide effort to create seven urban search and rescue teams, the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department formed Florida Task Force 5 Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) in October 2001. Since that time, USAR has proven its worth locally, throughout Florida and elsewhere.
Jacksonville USAR teams deployed in Florida for hurricanes Ivan and Charley in 2004, as well as for hurricanes Dennis and Wilma in 2005. The Task Force 5 USAR command team was part of the initial reconnaissance into Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 when it became the first USAR team to begin search and rescue operations in that state.
Jacksonville has about 140 USAR members trained in such specialties as structural collapses, vehicle and machinery extrications, confined-space rescues, trench rescues, high-angle rope rescues, Haz-Mat, wildland search and rescue, swiftwater rescue and K-9 searches.
Deployable USAR teams are required to be self-sustained and capable of 12- to 24-hour operations for 72 hours without the need for outside resources. The teams also are required to be able to deploy within six hours of receiving a call for assistance.
Florida Task Force 5 USAR is part of Special Operations in the Operations Division.