Local firefighters head to New Zealand

Two local firefighters who specialize in disaster response are part of an international team deploying to New Zealand, which was hit Tuesday with a 6.3-magnitude earthquake.

Capt. Chris Swartz and Firefighter Specialist Anthony Ramirez, both of L.A. County Fire Station 82 in La Cañada Flintridge, are headed to Christchurch, the island nation’s second-largest city.

Swartz and Ramirez are part of California Task Force 2, a self-sufficient 74-member urban search-and-rescue team that carries 55,000 pounds of equipment and can operate around the clock in split shifts, said L.A. County Fire Battalion Chief Ron Larriva. The group includes firefighters, doctors, paramedics, engineers, hazmat technicians and heavy-equipment specialists who will search the quake’s rubble for survivors.

-Joe Piasecki

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