The team was dispatched by the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Virginia Task Force 1, a team sponsored by the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, is on the ground in Japan. Crew members are sifting through rubble of destroyed buildings and homes and trying to locate survivors.
Captain Willy Bailey says crews had to pack extra gear for this particular trip.
"They're dealing with a lot of water so what the team also took with them is a swift water complement which is about four or five inflatable boats. They also took swift water gear," Bailey says.
The crew took about 75 tons of rescue equipment and six dogs to help look for survivors. Virginia Task Force 1 has a partnership with the office of U.S. Foreign Disaster assistance and takes on international missions, including the earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010.