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Henrico firefighters ready to help rescue efforts following Florida condo collapse

Florida building collapse
Posted at 4:43 PM, Jun 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-25 19:16:05-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Two members of the Henrico County Fire Department's Technical Rescue Team are on stand-by to assist with search and rescue efforts taking under after the partial condo collapse in Florida.

"The sheer size and scale of that is an event where it could be a -- very well be a once-in-a-lifetime event for many people," said Henrico County Fire Captain Barney Bolter.

Bolter describes the situation in Surfside, Florida where first responders are now sifting through the rubble of a partially collapsed condo. At this time, over 150 people are unaccounted for.

He said that he's prepared to head to the tragic scene if needed.

"We have everything for potential up to two to three weeks of deployment to Florida," Bolter said.

Bolter is a member of Virginia Task Force Two, urban search and rescue teams made up of first responders from different departments, including his, where he leads the county's technical rescue team.

"Common events we run here in Henrico County and across the region and state are your vehicles into buildings," Bolter said.

The county's team is based at Station One where they have a variety of equipment and training stations on hand. One of these training stations is a structure collapse similar to the one in Sunrise.

"This is structural concrete and piping," Bolter said.

Bolter said that what teams in Surfside are dealing with is called a pancake collapse.

"Where everything basically collapses down on to itself," Bolter said.

He said that this specific type of collapse is the most difficult type to deal with.

"Creates very small, very inaccessible access points inside the structure, the collapsed structure," Bolter said.

Using wood, jackhammers and other tools, Bolter said that crews will focus on shoring up the rubble to prevent further collapse and allow rescue teams to look for survivors.