Central Ohio may be experiencing mild weather this week, but a couple of Upper Arlington firefighters are dealing with the aftermath of a hurricane.

Central Ohio may be experiencing mild weather this week, but a couple of Upper Arlington firefighters are dealing with the aftermath of a hurricane.

UA firefighters Ed Beacom and Dave Grumney have been deployed as part of Ohio's and the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Federal Urban Search & Rescue Team, Ohio Task Force 1 (OH-TF1). About 80 task force members were activated on Aug. 26 to deal with the aftermath of last weekend's Hurricane Irene, along with some firefighters from Columbus and Westerville, and an engineer from a private company in Dublin, according to task force spokesman Dan Kochensparger.

Kochensparger said Aug. 29 that Beacom and Grumney were preparing to be transported from Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, N.Y., to areas upstate for search and rescue operations.

"They are right in the middle of being helicoptered to an area in upstate New York," Kochensparger said Monday. "They've had a chance to speak with the liaisons between the local and federal forces, and there was some request for some searches in upstate New York."

The Ohio task force arrived at Stewart ANGB at 2 a.m. Aug. 29, following a 200-mile detour. The task force was ordered by FEMA on Sunday to relocate from its initial staging area at McGuire Air Base in New Jersey. The task force encountered debris and flooding along the primary roadway, forcing them to find an alternative travel route, according to Kochensparger.

While at McGuire on Aug. 28, the task force was assigned to what turned out to be an erroneous report of a dam breaking in the New York state area; officials clarified that it was a controlled release of water from the dam, according to Kochensparger. Incident support team personnel then advised the Ohio group to continue with plans to travel to New York.

"Overall, if they go according to their normal deployment maximum, they shouldn't be gone for more than 10 days, but that depends on if there are any more missions for them or not," Kochensparger said. "It also depends on if the locals are asking for any more assistance. They could be moved to another section of the East Coast, it just depends on what the local jurisdictions want or need."

Currently, task forces from Virginia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Maryland are also deployed along the East Coast waiting for orders.

"Though the waiting is sometimes frustrating for the deployed personnel, it's a point of pride and professionalism that our search and rescue forces only respond into areas where the local jurisdiction has requested help," Kochensparger said. "Disaster specialists are in agreement that response agencies that "freelance" cause more harm than good."

Both Beacom and Grumney are experienced task force members, Kochensparger added. As one of the longest tenured task for members (starting in 1998), Beacom was deployed in 2001 to help in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks. Grumney has already deployed on several hurricane response efforts.

Ohio Task Force One deployed with 80 search and rescue personnel in a 14-vehicle convoy; each task force carries an 80-ton equipment cache and is self-sufficient for 36 hours, according to Kochensparger.

Dave

Grumney

Ed

Beacom