Task force returns from Florida condo collapse

Photo courtesy of Governor’s Office

Gov. Tom Wolf and Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel on Friday afternoon welcomed back about 80 members of PA-Task Force 1, who returned to Philadelphia after completing their mission to search for, rescue and recover those missing after the collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida on June 24.

Members were dropped off at Penn Jersey Diesel and Trailer, 6601 New State Road.

The task force is one of 28 federal urban search-and-rescue teams overseen by FEMA. The team is sponsored by the Philadelphia Fire Department and includes first responders from throughout the region.

The convoy departed on June 30 and included technical search specialists, structural engineers, doctors, canines and canine handlers, and experts in hazardous materials and other related fields.

About half the team worked at the site from noon to midnight while the other half worked from midnight to noon. Their duties included recovering remains and personal property, delayering debris, assisting in crane operations and mapping and collecting data.

Members of PA-TF1 were among hundreds of specially trained first responders from across the world who worked to bring closure to the families affected by the tragedy.

“I want to thank the men and women of PA-TF1 for assisting at the site of a terrible tragedy. This was a dangerous mission but they understood the risks and worked long hours at the site of the building collapse to provide critical emergency services. Pennsylvania is proud and grateful for their service,” Wolf said.

Ninety-seven people died in the condo collapse. ••