Special Operations personnel are assigned to three groups of response technicians each. The three groups are divided geo-graphically into north, south, central, and west districts. In turn, each group is further broken down into five member teams. The response team sets up a rotating schedule for responses. Members are compensated by the Department of Fire Services for all activations and training.
There are four defined tiers of response for Special Operations. A Tier One Response includes a driver and a maximum of three to four technicians. A Tier Two Response applies to a more complex operation and requires the remainder of the staff from the district and the technical support staff. In a Tier Three Response, all team members statewide are placed on alert that an incident has grown and is expected to exceed 14 hours and it is probable that other teams may be activated within 24 hours. A Tier Four Response entails multiple-team activation for long-term operations.
Team members are notified through MEMA via pagers for Tier One and Tier Two responses. Subsequent activations are made through the ISU.
Fire chief officers from the state comprise the positions of operations chief (OC) and liaison chief (LC). The OC works in and around the ISU in a floating position and coordinates operations with the fire marshal, deputy marshal, and unit coordinator. The OC works as a buffer from the conference area to the operators in the communication area and helps to make necessary decisions pertaining to the Special Operations and its operations at an incident. The LC works directly with the IC at an incident scene and is the only means of communication between the incident command staff and the ISU and its team members. The LC provides periodic briefings relative to team activity and capabilities and also provides the OC with status reports.
The Department of Fire Services has technical support personnel that respond and are on call within the following areas: communications, technology, critical incident stress management, chaplain's services, and public information. Should a specific need arise, the OC will communicate these needs to the marshal and see that the appropriate personnel are contacted.
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