Trenches are a type of excavation, or holes dug in the ground, that are typically defined as deeper than they are wide. Trenches are found all over Prince William County on a regular basis due, in a large part, to construction related directly to the county’s growth. Every year the dangers of working in even the most carefully prepared trench cause problems for both the workers and rescuers.
Prince William County, in conjunction with OWLVFD, has taken steps to provide the equipment and personnel necessary to perform safe, effective and efficient trench rescues. The hazards associated with trenches are the potential for the dirt “walls” to collapse in on the personnel in the trench, malfunctioning equipment and dangers from water and utilities.
DFR takes a tiered approach to performing Trench Rescues. Predominately the Department’s two Heavy Rescue Squads, Rescue 504 and Rescue 510, will take the lead on a trench rescue incident. Our Ladder Trucks (T511, Tw512 and Tw513) are part of the dispatch compliment to provide assistance, rope work and initial size-up of the situation. Collapse 502 is a support unit brings the specific equipment necessary for trench rescue operations. Lastly, the sister engine companies (E504, E510, E511, E512 and E513) may be called upon to provide support personnel, as these incidents can be very labor intensive. In the near future, DFR will further expand our capabilities to mitigate these incidents by providing a collapse unit at Fire Station 4. This unit will be run by the members of Rescue and Engine 504 which are on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week.