NC Strike Force 1
NC USAR Task Forces
NC Canine Emergency Response Team

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Last updated: Oct 4, 2021

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Heard of North Carolina Strike Force 1?

They were the state's first Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team, and they started in the late 1990s. They were conceived as regional technical rescue team that was based in Forsyth and Davidson counties. They were incorporated as a non-profit organization in 2000, and renamed from "Strike Force" to "Task Force" in May 2000. Two years later, they shortened their name to NCTF-1.

But wait, Batman, the state-sponsored USAR task forces weren't created until 2003. What's the story here? Thanks to some readers and a recent discussion on social media, here's a history of the organization, as well as one of their founding agencies, the now-defunct Forsyth Rescue Squad. 

Short Version

Note: This "short version" was created for a blog posting about this page, posted on May 8, 2017.

North Carolina Strike Force 1

Photo courtesy of Jeff Hinshaw

Late 1990s - First USAR Team in North Carolina

1998 - North Carolina Strike Force 1 is organized in the latter part of 1998. The initial services they provide are trench, collapse, and technical rescue, through their first two member agencies: Forsyth Rescue Squad and Thomasville Rescue Squad.

1999, July - First canine training conducted, which added a canine search and rescue (SAR) function to the team.

1999, September - First deployment of NCSF1, to Hurricane Floyd, via the state EM.

1999 - After the devastating impact of Hurricane Floyd, North Carolina Emergency Management (NC EM) begins developing regional USAR teams, to address gaps in capabilities of local responders (and federal teams, which are too far away to be effective resources).

2000-2002 - Incorporation, New Names, New Members

Circa 2000 - NCSF-1 expands to include Troutman Fire-Rescue.

2000, May - North Carolina Strike Force One, Incorporated as non-profit charitable corporation. The purposes of the organization are: 

The initial board of directors are:

Other notes:

2000, June - Snapshot:

2000, November - Snapshot:

2000, December - Equipment carried on USAR 1 includes:

Read this PDF document (2.4M) from December 2000, with the full list of equipment carried.

2000, December - Snapshot:

2001 - The organization is renamed North Carolina Task Force One, Incorporated.

2001, November - Snapshot:

2001-2002, circa - Two search and rescue teams join Task Force One:

2002 - The organization is renamed NCTF-1, Incorporated.

2003 - State System Established, Another New Name, Forsyth Rescue Closes

2003 - By this time, NCTF-1 was operating as a state-sponsored USAR team. Their organization name wasn't changed, but they operated in the state system as NC USAR Task Force 4.

2003, circa - Thomasville Rescue Squad withdraws from NCTF-1, and forms their own state-recognized USAR task force.

2003 - Forsyth Rescue Squad disbands.

2004-2013 - New Members, Task Force Disbanded

2004 - NCCERT relocates to Apex, N.C. See next section.

2004 - Apex Fire Department joins Task Force 4. See next section.

2004 - Task Force 4 membership consisted of:

2006 - Morrisville Fire Department joins Task Force 4.

2013 - Task Force 4 dissolved, along with three other teams, after NCEM streamlines the number of USAR regional teams needed to serve the state. 

Short History of North Carolina USAR Task Forces

1989 - FEMA creates the National Urban Search and Rescue Response system, after recognizing the value of a network of such USAR teams as were created in the early 1980s—by fire departments to deal with rescue operations in collapsed buildings—in Fairfax County, VA, and Metro-Dade County, in FL. Three years later, the concept was incorporated into the Federal Response Plan, first published that year. FEMA sponsored 25 national USAR task forces.

1995 - Shortly after Oklahoma City bombing, some states being building USAR capabilities, as well. Many of the state programs, like the later North Carolina teams, are developed through local Emergency Management agencies.

2001 - After the events of September 11, 2001, federal money was made available through North Carolina Emergency Management to develop a statewide USAR program to respond and assist impacted communities when local resources were taxed beyond their capabilities.

2002 - NCEM implements progressive plan to establish regional USAR teams across the state. The Task Forces are focused around a modular resource package that supports a wide array of disasters, from collapsed buildings, to flood response, to communications and logistical support.

2003 - Eleven regional USAR teams are identified, with various size teams and geographic locations. In the Raleigh-Durham area, Task Force 8 becomes operational in September 2003.[1]

2013 - NCEM streamlines the number of USAR regional teams needed to serve the state. Four teams are dissolved:

[1] The story of NC USAR Task Force 8:

Right: NCTF8 fleet in April 2011. Courtesy NCTF8.

List of Original Task Forces

Here's a snapshot of the state teams, and their original classifications, before they were reduced in 2013:



Plus other stuff to be added, acknowledgements, etc.

North Carolina Canine Emergency Response Team

New section, under development!


In 1999, the North Carolina Canine Emergency Response Team (NCCERT) was organized.

In August 2000, NCCERT was incorporated as a non-profit charitable organization.

In July 2003, Forsyth Rescue Squad ceased operation.

In August 2003, their corporation disbanded and the squad's building and assets were transferred to NCCERT.

After August 2003, NCCERT started looking for a new home.

In the fall of 2003, NCCERT approached the town of Apex, about forming a partnership.

In January 2004, NCCERT relocated to Apex, NC.

In May 2004, the cooperative agreement between NCCERT and Apex FD was made official.

Terms of the agreement included:

The agreement gave Apex FD access to:

Vehicles housed at Apex Station 3 were:

Other vehicles in the fleet were:

See fleet details below.


In 2006, NCCERT and the town of Apex renewed their agreement.

In April 2006, the town of Apex agreed to purchase NCCERT assets, including:

NCCERT retained possession of the team's water rescue truck, boats, boat trailers, command vehicle, and communications unit.

Both Apex FD and NCCERT continued to operate as part of a Task Force 4.

By August 2007, the team's vehicle fleet as listed on their website was:

In/around 2011, NCCERT and Apex FD ended their partnership. By that time, NCCERT had relocated their business office to Wendell, and their office trailer at Station 2 was vacant. There were also logistical challenges, for NCCERT members who lived in eastern Wake County or Johnston County, the driving distance to Apex was significant. End the partnership was advantageous to both groups.

In 2011, NCCERT disposed of their communications unit, as increasing numbers of responding agencies had their own units.

In 2013, Task Force 4 and three other teams were dissolved, as the state streamlined its USAR resources.

In 2015, NCCERT changed their corporation name to NC K9 Emergency Response Team, Inc. (NC K9 ERT).

The Team Today

Today, the team operates four units: canine search, ground search, sonar water search, and communications. They remain a non-profit charitable organization, supported by donations, and available for statewide response at the request of emergency agencies. They're available 24 hours a day, at the request of emergency agencies. They also work to promote understanding and public awareness of the role of search dogs, through demonstrations and lectures to local and state agencies, schools, and retirement and rest homes.

Courtesy NCCERT and Apex Fire Department

NCCERT Fleet Vehicles in 2004

Fleet information, June 2004:

C-1 Command Unit 1999 Ford F350 Crew Cab 4x4 Dual Wheel w/Shell
Primary Duty Personnel & Equipment, Tow Vehicle
Equipment GPS, Computer (online), VHF, UHF Radios
C-2 Water Response 1996 Ford F350 w/Utility Bed
Primary Duty Water Search & Rescue, Tow Vehicle, Dive Operations
Equipment Water Safety Equipment (Personnel), Ropes & Rigging, Underwater Camera, Medical Equipment
R-3  Heavy Rescue 1992 International Truck w/16' body Roll up Doors
Primary Duty Heavy Rescue (Vehicle Extrication, Low & High angle Rescue, Confined Space and as a Support Unit for Trench Collapse
Equipment On board 12kw Generator, Portable Lighting, Electrical Rescue Tools, On board & Portable Hydraulic Pumps for Hurst Rescue Equipment
C-4 Communications 1994 Ford E350 (Converted Ambulance)
Primary Duty Interoperability for Interagency Operations, Searches, Disasters, Special Events
Equipment VHF, UHF, 800, Low VHF, Marine, CB, Aviation, Alltel, Nextel, Amateur Radio (HF, 2mm, 70mm)Self Contained.
C-5 Boat (Open Water) 2003 Lowe 17' (Aluminum) Modified "v" Hull 7 Person
Primary Duty Canine Search Operations, Water Search, Rescue, Victim Evacuation, Rescue, Dive Operations
Equipment 50hp Motor, GPS, Sonar, Trolling Motor, Radio
C-6 Jon Boat 1993 Aluminum Craft 14' Flat Bottom w/25hp Motor
Primary Duty Canine Search Operations, Rescue, Recovery, Dive
Equipment Basic Water Safety Equipment
C-7 Boat Inflatable 1996 14' Zodiac Hard Bottom w/20hp Jet Motor
Primary Duty Diver, Search Support,
Equipment Basic Water Safety Equipment
C-8 ATV 2004 Yamaha "660 Grizzly" w/5'x10' Trailer
Primary Duty Search, Transport Personnel, Canines, Equipment
Equipment Still being evaluated
C-9 PWC 1999 Kawasaki Jet Ski
Primary Duty Search, Rescue, Transport Personnel, Equipment
Equipment Basic Water Safety Equipment
C-10 PWC 1995 Yamaha Jet Ski
Primary Duty Search, Rescue, Transport Personnel, Equipment
Equipment Basic Water Safety Equipment
T-1 Trailer 2002 Pace Enclosed Cargo W/side door & rear ramp door
Primary Duty Transport required equipment used in Trench Collapse Rescue
Equipment 51-Airshore Struts (pneumatic), 10-Shorform Panels, 7-Ground Pads, Ingersol-Rand Air Compressor, Air Tools, Saws, (Manual & Power)
SC-1 Trailer 2-Air Knife for emergency excavations, 2-Portable Pumps, 2-P
Primary Duty 2002 Pace Enclosed Cargo W/side door & rear ramp door
Equipment Portable Air Compressor, Portable Generator, Pneumatic Nailers, Electric Power Tools, Hand Tools, Shoring Materials, Stanley Hydraulic Pump, 1-35lb, 2-45lb, 1-90lb Breakers, Air Hammer Drill, 3-Set Cordless Power Tools, Paretech Low & High pressure Lift Bags, Hydraulic Jacks, High Lift Jacks, Measuring and Marking Equipment
C-13 NCTF-1 Canine 2003 Haulmark 14' Enclosed Trailer
Primary Duty Canine & Personnel Rehab Unit,  
Mini Ops Command Logistical & Equipment Transport
Equipment Heat & Air Condition, 4.5 kw Honda
Quiet Gen (EU-4500)80 amp Converter, Snake Eye Camera,
Hole Saw (Gas)
C-15 Trailer 2001 Land 18' with Rack
Primary Duty Water Response, Operational Support
Equipment C-6 & C-7, PFD'S, Ropes & Rigging, 12kw Quiet Onan Generator, Mounted & Portable Light Units, 10'x20' Shelter