The Rapid Intervention Reality of Your Department - Part 2

  The first installment of this series (January 2011) discussed preliminary items that must be understood to have a successful rapid intervention team (RIT) on the fireground. The next question that must be asked is this: What is the true rapid...


  The first installment of this series (January 2011) discussed preliminary items that must be understood to have a successful rapid intervention team (RIT) on the fireground. The next question that must be asked is this: What is the true rapid intervention capability for your fire...


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The first installment of this series (January 2011) discussed preliminary items that must be understood to have a successful rapid intervention team (RIT) on the fireground. The next question that must be asked is this: What is the true rapid intervention capability for your fire department?

An in-depth assessment using the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1407 Standard for Training Fire Service Rapid Intervention Crews can help us answer that question. To have a successful training program and function on the fireground when it comes to rapid intervention, as a minimum a fire department should be covering 18 points that we will begin discussing in this column.

Point 1 – Our department has a plan that all members understand and have been trained on for calling a Mayday on the fireground.

Does your department have a rapid intervention policy or operating guideline in place? Even more important, does every member understand it? If your department does not have a policy, many resources are available to help you develop one. Is there a policy for calling for help and is everyone trained on how to do so if the need arises on the fireground? LUNAR is an acronym that has been successful when calling for help:

LOCATION – Where is the distressed firefighter?

UNIT – What unit on the fireground is the firefighter assigned to?

NAME – What is the name of the firefighter who is in trouble or missing?

AIR STATUS – How much air does the firefighter have?

RESOURCES – What is the problem the firefighter is experiencing and what is needed to help?

Many instructors use the acronym LIP to further simplify the call for help:

LOCATION – What is your location?

IDENTIFICATION – Who are you?

PROBLEM – What is your problem?

No matter what acronym is used, the important point is that your department has a procedure and everyone from the chief to the greenest rookie understands the process. Even more important, however, is that every member is trained to recognize trouble and to call for help at the earliest point to provide the best chance of survival.

Point 2 – My department has the proper rescue equipment to fulfill rapid intervention responsibilities on scene and does not have to call for it after a Mayday is declared.

Does your department have the resources to staff a rapid intervention team on the fireground? Is the function an automatic pre-designated assignment? Remember; when a RIT is placed into action, the resources better be in place to back up that RIT. It has been common practice that many departments will escalate the alarm by two levels if a RIT is activated. None of us, with the exception of the largest cities, have the capability to properly fill this role by ourselves. If not done so already, break down the fences and get your neighboring departments to help and get that help rolling early in the response – it can always be returned if not needed.

Point 3 – If a Mayday is called, we have a plan to provide strong command presence in the rescue efforts while maintaining discipline and control of fire suppression measures.

Does your command team have a plan if a Mayday is called? It is important that discipline is maintained to ensure suppression efforts continue during a Mayday situation, for they may be what is keeping the downed firefighter alive.

Managing a Mayday requires the incident commander to get help. Everyone’s focus is going to be on the rescue effort. As the suppression efforts continue, a RIT is deploying into a hazardous condition and must be closely managed. A strong command presence is needed to maintain their safety. For this reason, it is suggested that a second command-team person control the RIT deployment and the incident commander remain in control of the suppression efforts. This concept has been used successfully by departments with a command-team member designated as a safety section officer. This person, once in place, will be responsible for the incident safety officers, accountability and rehab, but the ultimate focus is to command the RIT functions if a Mayday occurs.

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