Governor Newsom Sends Urban Search and Rescue Teams to Puerto Rico to Support Hurricane Fiona Response


SACRAMENTO – As Puerto Rico reels in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona, which resulted in catastrophic rainfall and flooding, Governor Gavin Newsom is rapidly deploying urban search and rescue personnel to help those on the island.

Governor Newsom has approved the deployment of 15 members of California/FEMA Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) Task Forces to aid the response to Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico.

As part of the National US&R Response System, administered in California by the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), these members will join other US&R IST members from throughout the country to form a FEMA US&R Incident Support Team.

“As we manage the ongoing emergency response to wildfires and support impacted communities, California is carefully assessing and balancing resources to answer the call to aid our fellow Americans in a time of great need,” said Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci.

These highly specialized personnel will assist in the management, coordination and support of emergency operations in and around the hardest hit areas of the island. They are trained in structural collapse and swift water/flood environments.

The California-based personnel include:

  • Task Force 5 from Orange County Fire Authority
  • Task Force 6 from Riverside City Fire Department
  • Task Force 7 from Sacramento City Fire Department

As part of this deployment, the Incident Support Team deploys with a cache of materials designed to fully support operations. The West Coast Cache includes tents for establishing a Base of Operations and Field Command Post, communications equipment, food, water, and vehicles.

This personnel is part of the National US&R Response System and the State Fire & Rescue Mutual Aid System. There are 28 National FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces within the continental United States, with eight located in the state of California. In California, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, Fire and Rescue, Special Operations Branch coordinates the California US&R Program.

California-based US&R Task Forces have been deployed to a long list of state, national, and even international disasters including 1992 Hurricane Iniki (Hawaii), the 1994 Northridge earthquake, the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina (2005), the 2010 Haiti earthquake catastrophe, the 2011 Japan earthquake/tsunami disaster, the 2015 Nepal Earthquake, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria (2017), the 2017 Mexico City quake, the 2020 Puerto Rico earthquake, and many others.