Three Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams containing IAFF members continue to search for survivors in the aftermath of the deadly Feb. 6 earthquakes in Turkey and Syria. The death toll has now surpassed 36,000. 

“Our USAR team members are dedicated fire fighters trained to work in harrowing situations,” said General President Edward Kelly. “Their training and resources are vital to supporting disaster operations. 

“We pray for their safety as they work to help others,” he said, “and we keep the people of Turkey and Syria in our prayers as they recover from this devastating earthquake.” 

“The people our members are assisting are facing an unimaginable level of devastation. But what our members’ are doing is important. They are bringing trapped victims to safety and giving hope to Turkish and Syrian citizens,” said General Secretary-Treasurer Frank Líma. “I know our members will stay focused and do everything they can to perform this vital work safely. The IAFF is proud of our USAR members and thanks them for everything they do.” 

Virginia Task Force 1 (Fairfax County, VA Local 2068 members), the Los Angeles County Fire Department USAR Team (Los Angeles County, CA Local 1014 members), and Burnaby Urban Search and Rescue (Burnaby, BC Local 323 and White Rock Local 2407) were on the ground within 48 hours of the 7.8 and 7.5 magnitude earthquakes. 

The teams – which also include doctors, structural engineers, and search dogs – have searched thousands of structures.  

Victims are still being found alive. On Feb. 10, the Burnaby USAR Team found and rescued a female survivor from a collapsed apartment building. Team members say her presence was detected by one of the dogs. It took more than five hours to get her safely from under the rubble. 

The U.S. and Canadian teams are expected to remain on the ground at least another week, assisting with the search and humanitarian efforts.