Rep. Frelinghuysen Continues Push for U.S. Recognition of New Jersey Urban Search and Rescue Team

WASHINGTON, D.C. - New Jersey Task Force One (NJ-TF1), the state’s Urban Search and Rescue Team, has taken a step toward federal recognition.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Urban Search and Rescue Strategic Group has unanimously recommended that New Jersey Task Force 1 (NJ-TF1) join the nation’s 28 team National Urban Search & Rescue System.  

“As a result of dangerous world we live in, these emergency management 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 FEMA designation will enhance New Jersey’s security, provide the Task Force with more funding for training and equipment and ensure they remain prepared in the event of an emergency.”

FEMA’s US&R Strategic Group 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.

“As disaster struck early 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 has introduced legislation since the 107th Congress in 2002 seeking 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.  “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.