Roseville Fire Chief Helps Lead Search and Rescue Efforts in Houston

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ROSEVILLE -- Chief Rick Bartee is the only member of the Roseville Fire Department in Houston.

"There are still many people who can't return home, the floodwaters in some areas are 10-feet-high and then once those people go home many fires start," Bartee said.

Bartee is on a 14-day federal contract for FEMA and has been working on disasters since 1992, when he worked for the Phoenix Fire Department. He's responded to the Oklahoma City bombings, 9/11, Katrina and more as a first responder.

"It's very Katrina-like, where folks needed to be removed from their homes, or they couldn't get out on their own, or they chose to stay until the water got there and they needed to get out," Bartee said, referencing the constant flooding even after the storm had passed.

For the past four years his title with FEMA has been as an incident support team leader, the team that oversees the urban search and rescue task force.

"I have never been somewhere where it just continually rained for four or five days straight as it did here," Bartee said after arriving last Friday when Harvey touched land.

Bartee says he has worked directly with the mayor of Houston and with the Houston Fire Department, which has 4,000 members compared to Roseville's 120.

"The members of my department understand the value of the experiences that I can bring back," Bartee said, referencing how this FEMA role helps the Roseville Fire Department.

Sacramento and Metro Fire have people helping in Houston as well.

Bartee will be back at the end of the week on Thursday or Friday.

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