© 2023 WFSU Public Media
WFSU News · Tallahassee · Panama City · Thomasville
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Tallahassee Firefighters Are Searching Through Rubble Of The Partially Collapsed Surfside Condo To Find Survivors, Victims

Pictured is a partially collapsed building. Workers can be seen on the ground looking at a piece of rubble being lifted into the air by a machine.
Lynne Sladky
AP Photo
Workers search the rubble at the Champlain Towers South Condo, Monday, June 28, 2021, in Surfside, Fla. Many people were still unaccounted for after Thursday's fatal collapse.

Tallahassee’s Urban Search and Rescue Team is combing through the rubble of the partially collapsed condo in Surfside. They’re one of eight teams from across the state that are working at the site.

The Tallahassee team is composed of 24 firefighters, one contract engineer, and one mechanic. They will be working 12-hour shifts and staying in tents near the collapsed condo. Mike Hadden is a Division Chief for the Tallahassee Fire Department. He says the work will be dangerous.

“There’s still a lot of unknowns of why the building collapsed. They’re still worried about secondary collapse from the other structure. They are worried about making sure that the pile remains stable,” Hadden says.

Tallahassee’s Urban Search and Rescue Team has previously been deployed to Jackson County and Mexico Beach in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in 2018. But Hadden says it’s the first time the team is being deployed to a structural collapse.

“What they’re doing is utilizing their training and specialized equipment to try to find victims. They’re trying to isolate the areas where victims may be located: bedrooms, living rooms, places like that. And then what they’re trying to do is home in on those areas, and they’re listening—using special listening devices, they’re using sonar. They’re using cameras to get into these areas and crevices to see if there are any survivors,” Hadden says.

Tallahassee’s Urban Search and Rescue Team is scheduled to return home this Sunday. But Hadden says their stay in Surfside may be extended depending on the situation.

Corrected: June 28, 2021 at 4:56 PM EDT
In the previous version of the story, it stated that the Tallahassee Urban Search and Response Team was made up of 26 firefighters and one contract engineer. That is incorrect. It is made up of 24 firefighters, one contract engineer, and one mechanic.
Robbie Gaffney graduated from Florida State University with degrees in Digital Media Production and Creative Writing. Before working at WFSU, they recorded FSU’s basketball and baseball games for Seminole Productions as well as interned for the PBS Station in Largo, Florida. Robbie loves playing video games such as Shadow of the Colossus, Animal Crossing, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. Their other hobbies include sleeping and watching anime.