Firefighters from Phoenix are on their way to North Carolina ahead of Hurricane Florence. The request came from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The crews left early Tuesday morning with all their equipment, including boats, and expected to arrive in Raleigh sometime Thursday.
They'll assist local departments with whatever they need. That might mean rescuing people who decide to ride out the storm in their homes.
According to Fire Capt. Rob McDade, a total of 35 Phoenix Fire Department members and 12 support members en route.
The group makes up a Type 3 team. The group is smaller than a full Arizona Task Force 1 team, which is usually about 80 people.
More Phoenix firefighters are on standby in case FEMA requests more help; a total of 240 of them are qualified to go.
Some of the crews who could be deployed spent their Tuesday practicing their rope skills for mountain rescues at a local rock gym.
"All of these skill sets, they translate to everything we're going to do, whether we are here in town working on incidents or on a federal deployment," said Phoenix Fire Capt. Bobby Dubnow, who also leads technical rescue training.
Depending on the severity of the storm and whether FEMA needs additional help, Dubnow could deploy next.
"Everybody is energized and motivated to be able to impact a part of the country that's going to experience some pretty devastating weather," he said.
Dubnow and Capt. Ryan Gray, the acting division chief for special operations, were two of the 80 people deployed to a flooded suburb of Houston after Hurricane Irma last year.
"There were cars underwater and mailboxes underwater," recalled Gray, who helped navigate the rescue boats through the flooded streets.
"Here in Arizona, a lot of the times, the water will come up creating a lot of damage and the water goes down very quickly so on a personal level for me to see, it was very surprising to see a large body of water standing in the community and not going anywhere."
Even though the team that's deployed doesn't know what to expect just yet, Gray said they're ready for whatever they're asked to do.
"We train year-round to prepare ourselves for this type of event and we're uniquely qualified to go in and take care of the community," he explained.
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