Phx firefighters ready to roll east if called

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- A team of between 70 and 80 Phoenix firefighters is packed and ready to head east should they get the call to help in the aftermath superstorm Sandy.

No strangers to dealing with the effects the Mother Nature's fury, this specially trained group went to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005. They also went Galveston, Texas after Hurricane Ike in 2008.

But it's not just natural disasters that spur the team into action. They also helped in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 and the Sept. 11 terror attacks in 2001.

The special-ops team has honed a unique skill set that makes it extremely useful in the wake of devastating events whether they're nature or man-made.

"They're trained to do structural collapse," Capt. Gary Tigges, the heads of the team, explained. "They can do building shoring. They can do breach and break-in of concrete structures. We do a lot of search activities."

Tigges said the team has two semi-trucks and two box trucks packed with supplies and equipment.

The team hasn't gotten the call yet, but Tigges said it could come within the next couple of days.

"We do transport over the road and we would like to get there as soon as possible to make a difference," he said. "We've got a long way to drive."

The team's convoy includes nine vehicles, including those semis and box trucks.