Trio of Suffolk firefighters to help in Florida rescue mission

Published 6:20 pm Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Three Suffolk firefighters are on their way to Florida to help with the search and rescue mission at the Champlain Towers South Condo community near Miami after its high-rise building collapsed nearly a week ago.

Since then, there has been an around-the-clock effort to locate and rescue people trapped inside, and 16 people have died, with scores more still missing.

Demitri Wilson, Ben Brower and Travis Peirce deployed along with the rest of the Virginia Beach-based Virginia Task Force Two Urban Search and Rescue team, which was activated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

That team is one of 28 FEMA urban search and rescue teams across the United States, and the Virginia Beach Fire Department is its sponsoring agency. It deployed three engineers from the task force earlier this week, and the other 80 members left June 30 from Virginia Beach.

The task force has performed search and rescue missions following multiple disasters. It was last fully activated and deployed in 2018 for search and rescue operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, which struck Florida that October as a Category 5 storm.

Suffolk Fire Chief Michael Barakey was previously a task force leader for Virginia Task Force Two and had numerous deployments with it.