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Thread: Removing SCBA/Changing bottles when training for RIT situations

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    Question Removing SCBA/Changing bottles when training for RIT situations

    Recently our department did some RIT training and during the training, one of the scenarios was to have the RIT team members remove their scba bottles in order to access a tube or tunnel, pushing the scba pack ahead of themselves, and once through put it back on. Also we were instructed to change out the scba bottles of the RIT team if they were low on air.
    I had a few concerns with doing that because of the problems that could arise. I don't think that a firefighter should ever remove their scba in a structure fire or RIT situation. In all of the training videos I have watched I have never seen a firefighter or RIT team member remove their scba or change out a bottle during these types of situations. My question is, do all departments train their firefighters to remove their scba or change out the bottle while insde a structure? Would a firefighter actually do that in a live structure fire? Seeking knowledge.


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    We teach our members to remove the pack in order to squeeze through tight spots, but not to change a bottle while interior. I'm not really sure of a practical use of changing out the bottle. Where would the new bottle come from and what air would they use to breathe while changing it out? I suspect the answer is another firefighter would bring it to them and buddy breathes while changing out the bottle, a kind of RIT for the RIT. If that is the case, just have the person bringing the bottle continue the operation and have the team low on air exit and replace the bottle.

    We do teach buddy breathing and using a RIT pack to assist a downed firefighter, but not change out the bottle.

    As far as removing the pack, again, we do teach that, more as a self rescue technique than a RIT technique. Part or our drill requires the firefighter to negotiate a small opening. Only very skinny firefighters can get through without removing the pack. we require them to keep positive control of the pack and check the other side of the operning before sending the pack through.

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    We also teach the removal of the SCBA in order to fit through tight/confined spaces ... hell, I learned this 20 years ago as part of my Firefighter I class. Granted, there's always been discussion about pushing the pack ahead of you or pulling it behind you, but that's for another thread.

    I have to agree that swapping out the cylinder in the IDLH is pretty unorthodox, however.
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    We teach firefighters to move remove their SCBA in tight areas to move ahead or back.

    The swapping out of SCBA bottles for RIT came about before buddy breathing systems were required. It is still a good technique to learn because not every fire department has new SCBA. The idea behind it was if you had a trapped firefighter that was low on air either because he/she had been inside too long or they have been trapped that long because it is taking the RIT crew a long time to get them untrapped. It is practiced enough the firefighter is only off air for a few seconds. And if successful they should have another 30 minutes of air to use.
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    Instead of trying to change the stuck ff's bottle....use a RIT pack. Couple seconds to change a regulator over on the mask.

    Yes, we train to remove your own SCBA for a reduced profile.
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    That is a quick way to do if the SCBAs are the same brand and model.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    Instead of trying to change the stuck ff's bottle....use a RIT pack. Couple seconds to change a regulator over on the mask.
    Or simply use the universal refill connection (URC) to transfill, regardless of brand or model.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RyanEMVFD View Post
    That is a quick way to do if the SCBAs are the same brand and model.
    That's why RIT packs have a new mask attached to the regulator. IMHO, as much of a pain in the arse as it can be, changing masks will be a lot easier than changing bottles. I would also argue that switching masks and getting the FF back on air will be faster than changing out the bottle too.

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    All the information is greatly appreciated but I will try to clarify about changing out the bottles. We are teaching changing out the bottles of the RIT team with a secondary RIT team, and not the downed firefighters. My concerns to my captains were, there are few problems that could arise, like being unable to get the new bottle back in place in a timely fashion or dropping the botttle and it rolls away. I suggested that the RIT pack be used to refill the RIT teams bottles and if thats not possible the RIT team that is low on air should exit and let the secondary RIT team attend to the downed firefighter. I was trying to see what other departments are teaching and to see if our department is going about it differently then everyone else.

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    The RIT packs I've seen only self equalize once connected. How many "RIT team" bottles do you think you will refill with one?? Your captains are teaching you air management. And the first rule of air management is.... more is better.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoxAlarm187 View Post
    Or simply use the universal refill connection (URC) to transfill, regardless of brand or model.
    To be honest....the URC is not common in this area. We give them a new full bottle, not a partial one.
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    Quote Originally Posted by AFD Firefighter View Post
    ...We are teaching changing out the bottles of the RIT team with a secondary RIT team, and not the downed firefighters...
    As you yourself state...if the RIT team is low on air, why is that team not being changed out instead of just their bottles? Are they super human and never get tired themselves?

    Other question. If your RIT team is going to work, do you call (or have) another RIT team on the ready just in case the first team gets in trouble? If so, when the first team runs low on air, the second should take over.
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    Bones42 - when training, we train with 2 teams for RIT which consist of 2 personell each. I think we would both agree that is still not enough personell to facilitate a proper rescue, but we work with what we have. I agree with you, the first team should remove themselves for the situation and let the second team take over. Just trying to see how other departments are training in regards to this type of situation. Thanks for you knowledge and advice. It is greatly appreciated.

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    2 teams of 2....well, you got to learn to work with what you have.

    Here's a link to our FAST (RIT) SOG....http://www.ofc1.org/pdfsogs/FAST%20Response.pdf
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    I'm just glad this section of the forum is getting active. RIT has to be one of the most important concepts created for FDs in recent history.
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    For the tunnel drill, are you removing the cylinder from the harness or taking off the harness while leaving facepiece on. Seems like removing cylinder from harness would be more difficult. We undo straps, remove harness and push SCBA through ahead of us on floor, while facepiece remains on.
    Generally speaking. I think the members low on air should be relieved by the members bringing in the new cylinders.

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    Exactly, and the old team can give a better report to IC about the conditions and situation inside better in person than over a radio.
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    At smoke divers they taught us to remove the bottle from the harness and breath by turning the valve on and off- as an absolute last resort of course.....But I have never heard of purposely changing a bottle in an IDLH environment.
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    The "R" in RIT is supposed to be Rapid. All of this bottle changing is anything but rapid. When the RIT's air gets low start the second team in, and get the first team out. The first team can direct the second team to the area they left, then change bottles once out side. The member in trouble will be much more impressed with being quickly rescued than they will the skill with which the RIT wasted time changing their bottles.

    Also, realize that once a RIT/MayDay is activated, everyone on the fire ground is potentially RIT, whether assigned initially or not. The IC, and/or RIT chief makes that decision.
    Last edited by The52nd; 04-17-2014 at 09:30 AM. Reason: spelling

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    We train removing the pack if the spot is too tight ( not removing the cylinder from the pack) in the event you get to the end of the pipe it drops off into space you don't lose your SCBA. We also train air management ( our packs are MSA MMRII with HUD's) if your bell is ringing you've been in too long and chances are we're sending someone in to get you.As far as changing out a cylinder inside does'nt happen all packs no matter what the manufacturer are equipped with an URC ( Universl Rit Connection)and as the the name indicates they are universal and are compatable with Scott, Drager etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by AFD Firefighter View Post
    Recently our department did some RIT training and during the training, one of the scenarios was to have the RIT team members remove their scba bottles in order to access a tube or tunnel, pushing the scba pack ahead of themselves, and once through put it back on. Also we were instructed to change out the scba bottles of the RIT team if they were low on air.
    I had a few concerns with doing that because of the problems that could arise. I don't think that a firefighter should ever remove their scba in a structure fire or RIT situation. In all of the training videos I have watched I have never seen a firefighter or RIT team member remove their scba or change out a bottle during these types of situations. My question is, do all departments train their firefighters to remove their scba or change out the bottle while insde a structure? Would a firefighter actually do that in a live structure fire? Seeking knowledge.

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