The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) holds a unique role in non-fire emergency response, having a great deal of experience in responding to and managing a wide range of natural disasters throughout the nation. VDOF is one of several Virginia Emergency Support Team (VEST) agencies which are called into action to support local and statewide emergencies of all descriptions. VDOF’s unique mix of emergency response skills and equipment, its close ties with local counties, and a general can-do attitude under any situation have presented the agency with many unique opportunities over the years.
VDOF agency responders meet rigorous national-level training and credentialing requirements through the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG). The agency’s response experience has also allowed VDOF to be the only state entity in the Commonwealth with a national qualified Type 2 Incident Management Team (IMT). IMTs are used to provide the planning, command and control necessary to coordinate the response activities for the nation’s largest emergencies. VDOF’s IMT members have experience in managing the nation’s largest wildfires, providing support to local citizens following natural disasters, coordinating the restoration of infrastructure following major storm events, supporting the state Emergency Operations Center during Virginia emergencies, including the COVID-19 pandemic and even the recovery of Space Shuttle debris following the Columbia disaster in 2003.