Frelinghuysen Applauds U.S. Recognition of New Jersey Urban Search and Rescue Team

WASHINGTON, D.C. -  Calling it the “right step for New Jersey and the nation,” U.S. Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen today hailed the formal federal designation of New Jersey Task Force One (NJ-TF1), the state’s Urban Search and Rescue Team.  Frelinghuysen was notified this afternoon by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  The FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Strategic Group had earlier unanimously recommended that New Jersey Task Force 1 (NJ-TF1) join the nation’s 28 team National Urban Search & Rescue System.  

“Let’s face it, we live in an increasingly dangerous world and these search and rescue teams, professionals and volunteers alike, are our best and most important lines of defense,” said Frelinghuysen. “In their hands is one of our nation’s greatest missions: protecting our homeland. This final, formal federal designation will enhance New Jersey’s security, provide the Task Force with more funding for training and equipment and ensure they remain at the ‘top of their game’ in the event of any disaster.”

FEMA considered a number of factors, including experience, population density, critical infrastructure, the number and age of structures in proximity to the team’s base location, geographic coverage and threat assessment.

“Well before the tragedy of September 11, 2001, the members of the New Jersey Task Force One Urban Search and Rescue Team were on their way to the World Trade Center - among the first search and rescue teams on the ground that fateful morning,” Frelinghuysen said. “Not only have the members of this team proven they are worthy of such designation – there is no question about it, New Jersey needs its own federally supported team. Frankly, we should have to wait no longer.  FEMA should have made this designation years ago!”

Frelinghuysen first introduced legislation to provide federal designation of NJ-TF in 2002.  His bill sought expansion of the national urban search and rescue system and a federal designation for the New Jersey team. 

He wrote earlier this year to the Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, a resident of Montclair, outlining the case for NJ-TF1 and later spoke to FEMA Direrctor Craig Fugate.  “Recognizing our state as being one of the most densely populated areas of the country, over the past year FEMA has developed and carried out exercises to increase community emergency preparedness for various disasters, including oil train spills, pandemic outbreaks and extreme weather events.”

Members of the team, which is supported by the New Jersey State Police, hail from all 21 counties.

Frelinghuysen’s current legislation, H.R. 559, is co-sponsored by nine members of the New Jersey House delegation: Reps. Smith, LoBiondo, Lance, Pallone, Watson-Coleman, McArthur, Norcross, Pascrell and Sires.