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Special Teams


HSEMD has worked with government and private-sector partners to develop specialized capabilities that may be used for the benefit of all Iowans. Homeland security and emergency response teams are recognized under Code of Iowa 29C, and are deployed as a resource to supplement and enhance disrupted and overburdened local emergency and disaster operations. These teams may also be deployed to provide assistance to other states under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.


HSEMD does not directly operate any of these teams. Rather, the State has put into place several memorandums of understanding (MOUs) that enable HSEMD to contract with the teams to respond if the need arises. Individually, the teams may provide support to other jurisdictions within the state through separate local agreements, without assistance from state government.


SWAT team exercises in Polk County in June 2010. Photo by Stefanie Bond, Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management.


Click on the tabs for more information about each team.

B-SAFE (Building Safety Assessment and Failure Evaluation) Team


Iowa's B-SAFE (Building Assessment and Failure Evaluation) Team is comprised of state employees as well as volunteer engineers and architects from various professional organizations, including the Iowa Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the Iowa Engineering Society/American Council of Engineering Companies, Structural Engineers of Iowa, and the Iowa Association of Building Officials. Although Iowa HSEMD has the authority to deploy the team, the State Fire Marshal Division of the Iowa Department of Public Safety manages the team.


The B-SAFE team may be deployed to determine if structures affected by a disaster (such as a tornado or flood) are safe for occupancy. The team may also provide technical assistance to local communities regarding building inspections and building safety during times of disaster as well as during the recovery process.


The first step in deploying the B-SAFE team is to contact the local emergency manager for the county where the resource is needed. Anyone wishing to join the B-SAFE team may contact the State Fire Marshal's office.



Explosive Ordnance Disposal (Bomb Squad)


Photo of Des Moines Bomb Squad truck and robot. Photo by John Halbrook, Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management.The Explosive Ordnance (EOD, or "bomb squad") cadre provides statewide coverage for the detection and disposal of explosive weapons. This group of highly-trained professionals is built on a foundation of seven nationally-accredited state and local teams: Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, the Quad Cities, Waterloo, Johnson County/City of Marion, Pottawattamie County, and the Iowa State Fire Marshal’s Office.


These teams are fully operational and can be deployed to any location in the state. All bomb squad technicians are required to have been trained in a rigorous three-month program at the FBI's National Academy in Quantico, Va. Each team is comprised of at least two trained bomb technicians.


Although there is often much interest in joining these teams, it is extremely competitive and bomb techs are chosen from the existing members of each local police department. Officers may serve in their departments for several years before getting the opportunity to train as a bomb technician.



Incident Management Team (IMT)


Iowa’s Incident Management Team (IMT) is a cadre of multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional professionals, activated to support incident management at large or complex incidents, disasters or special events. The IMT has been developed at the state level to provide support to local officials who become overwhelmed during a long-lasting disaster event. The team serves in a support function, filling in for fatigued personnel and providing technical advice. Through the local county emergency management agency, a local incident commander may request deployment of Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management's IMT to perform incident support.


Any interested, qualified persons may join the state's IMT. All potential applicants for Iowa's Incident Management Team must have completed the following FEMA incident command system courses: ICS-100, 200, 300, 400, 700 and 800b. (FEMA/USFA/NFA 0317A Command and General Staff Functions for Local Incident Management Teams may be substituted for both ICS-300 and 400.)


Click here to download or complete the application for Iowa's Incident Management Team. You may complete the form and save it to your computer before sending it, along with your resume, to Frank Klier.



Region IV Disaster Saw Team


The Region IV Disaster Saw Team uses chainsaws to clear debris in the aftermath of severe storms, and is comprised of firefighters from volunteer agencies. The team is sponsored by Pottawattamie County Emergency Management and currently boasts approximately 60 members from throughout southwest Iowa.


The local county emergency management agency may request that Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management deploy the team to assist with their debris management when the need exceeds local capabilities.


Membership on the saw team is competitive and location-dependent, and at present the team is not soliciting new members. If you have questions about the Region IV Disaster Saw Team you may email Pottawattamie County Emergency Management Director Doug Reed.



Search and Rescue (Iowa Task Force 1)


Iowa Task Force 1 (IA-TF1) is Iowa’s Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team. IA-TF1 team members have been trained and equipped to locate, rescue and provide initial medical stabilization to victims in confined spaces, including collapsed structures, grain silos, mines and collapsed trenches. The team is also trained in swift-water rescue and performing a wide area search.


In addition, the team may loan equipment like generators, light kits, and communications equipment for local responders. Iowa Task Force 1 was built using existing capabilities and resources, is comprised of the Sioux City and Cedar Rapids fire departments, and draws additional membership from fire and rescue professionals from across Iowa.


Anyone interested in joining Iowa Task Force 1 should visit the IA-TF1 website.



Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT)


The state has built a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) core group of six separate tactical teams capable of handling high-risk situations which require special weapons or extraordinary special operations. Iowa now has statewide coverage for these types of incidents with four local and two state teams.


The local teams are the Cedar Rapids Police Department, Metro Star (combined Des Moines/Polk County area agencies), North Central Iowa Narcotics Task Force (north central Iowa area law enforcement agencies), and Woodbury County Sheriff’s Office. In addition, the Iowa State Patrol provides two teams.


Each SWAT team is made up of at least 12 tactically-trained officers. The teams are chosen from existing members of each local police department or law enforcement agency. Membership for SWAT teams, like bomb squads, is extremely competitive. Officers may serve in their departments for several years before getting the opportunity to join the SWAT team.


Des Moines SWAT officer oversees a training activity.











Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)/HazMat


Photo of WMD HazMat Team exercising in 2009. Photo by Stefanie Bond, Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management.Iowa’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)/HazMat team was established to enhance the capabilities of existing fire department hazmat teams to provide statewide coverage for on-site testing and identifying, assessment and support for render-safe operations involving increasingly sophisticated improvised explosive devices and those that may contain chemical, biological, radioactive, nuclear or explosive (CBRNE) materials.


Fire department hazmat personnel from established departments in Council Bluffs, Davenport, and Des Moines make up the state's WMD HazMat team. These departments were chosen based on their existing hazmat capabilities.