Rep. Frelinghuysen: Another step forward for New Jersey Task Force One

WASHINGTON, D.C. - New Jersey Task Force One (NJ-TF1) today took another step toward inclusion in the federal Urban Search and Rescue Team as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) upheld its earlier decision to exclude New Mexico’s team from participation in the National Urban Search and Rescue Response System. This decision means that there is an official vacancy in FEMA’s 28 team National Urban Search & Rescue System.  The US&R peer-based Strategic Group reviewed potential replacement Task Forces and unanimously recommended New Jersey Task Force One (NJ-TF1) as the potential replacement Task Force.

The System will now move forward with the review and assessment process for NJ-TF1.  In order to be officially appointed and capable of deploying, NJ-TF1 must pass an on-site FEMA Readiness Assessment Evaluation. 

“Today’s action represents another strong step forward for New Jersey and the nation,” said U.S. Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ-11).   “A 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 an emergency.”

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 NJ-TF1. 

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.”

In making its unanimous recommendation, the US&R Strategic Group considered a number of factors to include experience, population density, critical infrastructure, the number and age of structures in proximity to the team’s base location, geographic coverage and threat assessment.

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.