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In a story about today's Miami bridge collapse, I saw this photo:

In the upper left, there is a white box truck which seems to say "MIAMI DADE FIRE RESCUE / TECHNICAL RESCUE / COLLAPSE UNIT," even though the start of each line is obscured by a pole.

First responders, including another fire truck, are visible on the scene and one of the crushed passenger vehicles' headlights are still on. (Reports indicate the crushed vehicles were stopped for a red light). The disaster scene looks pretty fresh, though clear of bloodied victims and easily clearable bystanders.

However, collapses like this are supposed to be quite rare. The impressive observation that such a specialized unit got there so quickly got me wondering, how many of these units are there?

Recognizing that collapses might be more common in countries with weaker building codes, and thus Collapse Units like this might be more necessary there, I'm primarily restricting the scope of this to the US.


Photo by Joe Raedle, Getty. I do not have original image credit/permission to relicense this under CC-BY and thus am not re-uploading it, but asking the question seems like a fair use exemption.

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    $\begingroup$ This is a question about Fire & Rescue departments, not engineering. $\endgroup$ – AndyT Mar 16 '18 at 9:22
  • $\begingroup$ @AndyT it's about designing soft infrastructure & systems for preparedness in advance of an issue, so as to be better able to manage an issue if/when one occurs. This is more systems engineering than structural/civil but related to those too, because engineering quality in those areas (or lack thereof) would seem like the primary driver for needing such units. Finally, this incident and the response to it are likely to be making it into engineering management and ethics course curricula once the failure analysis is complete, for lessons focusing on preparedness & prevention. $\endgroup$ – WBT Mar 16 '18 at 11:59
  • $\begingroup$ Taking the Grenfell Tower tragedy as an example: Cladding specification is on topic here, fire door specification is on topic, number of escape routes is on topic; length of firemen's ladders is off topic. $\endgroup$ – AndyT Mar 16 '18 at 12:09
  • $\begingroup$ There will probably never be a Fire & Rescue Departments SE as that's far too narrow. I still believe that systems design for anticipation of & being able to handle an issue, anticipating probabilistically (even if the specific cause & site of what's being prepared for cannot be anticipated precisely enough to be prevented), is a reasonable and important part of systems engineering. This question probably wouldn't be on topic at "Structural Engineering.SE" but I think is on topic at "Engineering.SE." Also note, this is a systems question, not focused on the specific contents of those units. $\endgroup$ – WBT Mar 16 '18 at 12:22
  • $\begingroup$ The question as posed has nothing to do with engineering. If you want to ask "what skill set, tools prep, ....does a Collapse Response Unit need", that might be on topic $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Mar 16 '18 at 14:22