The idea of having the RIT companies available to complete other tasks while on scene is both good and bad.
Rapid intervention is a theory that is no longer a new one to those in the fire service. Rapid Intervention Teams, or RIT as we know it, has evolved and been embraced by departments large and small across the country. RIT is the only means that we currently have available to save our own.
If we can not save our own, who will?
Due to the current approved construction methods, our firefighters are at great risk for injury and or death. It is extremely important that we not only train in RIT but we train in building construction. A great deal of attention must be paid to this. Some of the new truss constructed buildings are now attached with only glue, rather than the gusset plate with several nails in it, which has been failing at an alarming rate. With the knowledge of building construction and the understanding of fire spread we can better protect our firefighters.
When RIT is Needed
If and when the need for RIT arises there are many steps in the process that must be recognized and followed by the incident commander (IC). Upon receiving the transmission of a Mayday, all other units operating at the incident should be placed on another operational channel and a personal accountability report (PAR) conducted.
The IC, the person(s) calling the Mayday and the RIT companies should remain on the original channel. Utilization of units within the area that is immediately dangerous to life and health (IDLH) and in close proximity to those in trouble will decrease the response time. This is definitely a step in a different direction than what we are traditionally taught but these units or individuals have a step ahead of those outside in the initiation of the location and rescue process of those down or in need of assistance.
This is one major area within firefighting that those involved must be able to think outside of the box and use means that may be out of the norm and do not follow necessarily the Standard Operating Guidelines (SOG's) set forth by your department. The IC should consider the utilization of any crews that were operating in the same general vicinity as those requesting the Mayday to assist. These individuals are already in the structure and, in theory, they are not far from the downed person(s). They can gain access and advise what if any other specialized equipment may be needed to assist in the rescue.
The adoption of assigned duties for the individual units in the RIT will eliminate the completion of the same task by multiple units or the failure to complete necessary tasks by others. The idea of having the RIT companies available to complete other tasks while on scene is both good and bad. It will help with the mitigation of the incident with these persons assisting on scene. They may be able to do this as long as they are not involved with operations inside the structure or the hot zone where they are required to be breathing air. If this is the case it will decrease the amount of available air in the need for a rescue. As well as prolong their response to the Mayday request.
The development and implementation of a RIT program within your community is paramount. As time goes by, cheaper and cheaper methods of construction will evolve as well as improved manufacturing of the fire gear that we wear. This gear is allowing us to go further into fires and stay longer. This is a two-fold situation; it is good that we can endure the heat more now than before but adversely it also may be giving us a false sense of security due to the increased collapse potential in residential occupancies.
Training Helps Keep Rapid in RIT
Is rapid intervention really rapid? Due to the tests and training scenarios that have been presented to the fire service community by a great majority of the larger departments across the country we see and hear that it is not rapid at all.