The Special Operations Division is a multi-faceted unit under the Fire Department’s Operations Branch. The division is staffed with two Captains who administer the Hazardous Materials, Domestic Preparedness, and Technical Rescue programs and a Battalion Chief who manages the Urban Search and Rescue program which is funded by a grant from the Department of Homeland Security. Additionally, two front line Battalion Chiefs oversee the Boat and Heavy Rescue programs.
Hazardous Materials Program (HAZMAT)
The HAZMAT Program is responsible for emergency hazardous materials response in the Sacramento area. This is accomplished in partnership with the Sacramento County Environmental Management Division. The program provides 24-hour response for the City and County of Sacramento and the cities of Elk Grove, Folsom, Galt, and Isleton. The entire response area is comprised of a population in excess of 1.4 million people.
There are approximately 90 department personnel trained to the Hazardous Materials Specialist level. These personnel are available to staff the department's two Hazardous Materials Response Teams. Each team is staffed with eight Hazardous Materials Specialists and are "Type 1" as designated by Cal OES. Type 1 means the teams are capable of responding to any hazardous materials incident including Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). The specially designed and equipped rigs used by the teams are Type 1 can support decontamination operations as well.
The Sacramento Fire Department staffs a regional Technical unit that meets or exceeds the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) State Fire/Rescue mutual aid typing for a Heavy rescue (Type one) capability. This capability brings eight highly trained personnel and associated equipment to address emergencies involving high angle rescue, confined space entry, trench and excavation collapse incidents, structure collapse and a myriad of technical search capabilities. It is not only available 24/7 for local emergencies, but is also recognized and prepared to respond anywhere in the State through the California Fire/Rescue mutual aid system.
The Sacramento Fire Department Marine Program currently deploys boats from Fire Stations 2, 5, 8, and 11. Boat 5 is standing by in the water at Miller Park and has firefighting capabilities. These boats support the Department’s life safety mission on the American and Sacramento Rivers. In addition to the rescue boats, Rescue 20 and Engine 20 are staffed with qualified rescue swimmers for in water-surface rescue.
Urban Search & Rescue (US&R)
The Sacramento Fire Department is the sponsoring agency for California Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 7 (CA TF-7), one of 28 FEMA Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) Task Forces in the nation, and one of eight in California. Task Force personnel and equipment can be used locally as well as for state and federal US&R deployments.
US&R Task Forces were originally designed to respond to structural collapse caused by earthquakes. Over the past two decades the scope of US&R response and capability has grown to include disasters and catastrophes, both man-made and natural, incident support functions, and response to preplanned events.
Specialties within CA TF-7 include: collapse rescue, heavy rigging, logistics, hazardous materials, medical, communications, canine search teams, technical search, and planning. The Task Force is comprised of fire and rescue personnel from Sacramento Fire Department, Folsom Fire Department, Roseville Fire Department, West Sacramento Fire Department, Cosumnes Community Services District, El Dorado County Fire Protection District, Kaiser Permanente, Sacramento County Airports System, and Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District. The Task Force also contracts with civilians for emergency physicians and structural engineers.
CA-TF7 has deployed a Task Force or provided personnel for Incident Support Teams in the following National responses:
- 1992 Hurricane – Iniki
- 1994 Northridge Earthquake
- 1995 Terrorist Attack – Oklahoma City, Alfred P. Murrah Building
- 1996 Yosemite Rock Slide
- 2000 National Special Security Event – 2000 Olympics, Atlanta
- 2001 Terrorist Attack – The World Trade Centers, New York
- 2002 National Special Security Event – 2002 Olympics, Salt Lake City
- 2003 National Special Security Event – Space Shuttle Recovery
- 2004 National Special Security Event – Democratic National Convention
- 2004 National Special Security Event – Republican National Convention
- 2004 Hurricane – Charlie
- 2004 Hurricane – Ivan
- 2004 Hurricane – Francis
- 2005 Hurricane – Katrina
- 2005 Hurricane – Rita
- 2007 Hurricane – Dean
- 2007 Tornado – Kansas
- 2008 Hurricane – Gustav
- 2008 Hurricane – Ike
- 2008 National Special Security Event – Republican National Convention
- 2009 North Dakota Floods
- 2009 Earthquake/Tsunami – Alert Status American Samoa
- 2010 Hurricane - Earl
- 2014 Oso Washington Mudslide