1. #1
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    Question Volunteers & RIT

    I would like to know your thoughts on RIT and Volunteer Fire Departments. Normally a VFD is hard pressed for manpower. Should a RIT team only be established when the manpower is available? Let's say you only have 6 to 7 people respond. One is operating the truck. One is in command. That leaves 4 to 5 people left. If you put 2 on a RIT team that leaves 2 or 3 to fight fire. For a small structure that is only one room involved this may be enough but what about a larger structure when 3 or more attack lines are needed? Exposure protection etc. etc. I know you can call for Mutual Aid but at certain times we are still strapped for manpower.

    Had 2 structures on fire New Years morning. Amongst 4 departments there were only 14 firefighters.

    What I am getting at is should the RIT team be discarded in situations like these? Any suggestions?

    Mark

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    Having a FAST or RIT team is a very important crew to have at a fire scene. In my department as soon as we get a call for a possible structural fire we automatically call for a FAST team from a neighboring town. There fore we have a (hopefully) fully manned FAST team on the scene within 10 minutes of our arrival. So except for the first few minutes of a fire we have a FAST team on scene of every working fire. Those first couple of minutes though are tough if man power is lacking. But as a firefighter I never rely on a FAST team. I rely on myself and my team mates around me. You go in with someone you come out with that same person. (

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    Should a RIT team only be established when the manpower is available?
    A RIT team should be established everytime you have any working fire with guys inside, if your hard pressed for manpower maybe look for a town that normally doesn't Mutual Aid for fire attack to come and be your Rehab,At our working fires our RIT team will come from a department based on where in our district the fire is located.
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    Mark,
    Good post .....we too were just discussing this recently at aSafety Officers meeting. Our problem is the youth and lack of experience of our departmetn to actually get people RIT trained, and make a team. We felt that they are too new to continue to branch out training and dont have the bascis really down. What I mean is that 2/3 of the department has less than 5 years on, we train 12 hours per month. So................our neighbors on auto aid with us are doing some FAST training and are almost ready to implement it. In other words we may change their assignment to RIT/FAST vs attack. Another department on a county border has a mutual agreement with that fire district to send the RIT team on fires and vice versa. Dont be afraid to talk to your neighbors to achieve what you may need........the solution maybe closer than you think.
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    You have to cover your basics first -- both in staffing & training -- before you establish a dedicated FAST team.

    Part of the basics is having reserve forces -- the next team to go in to relieve the current hose team, for example. And they at the most basic level form your rapid intervention crew if something goes wrong.

    Not all communities have the manpower available in a timely manner to have dedicated FAST teams. That isn't an excuse for not creating automatic aid agreements when practical -- but sometimes if you're an half hour from the next due company you have more pressing matters than a FAST.

    BTW, those who know my posts know I can be a stickler on semantics sometimes. And RIT/FAST has been added to that list over the last month.

    What's a RIT? Rapid Intervention Team -- to rapidly intervene in what? A FAST is a Firefighter Assistance & Safety Team and that gives them a clearly defined mission by name alone. The IRIT terminology is in keeping with that -- your 2 out is your initial rapid intervention team and they may have to be pushed into service to do things other than focusing on firefighter safety (indeed one of the two could be a pump operator or OIC).
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    We are Vol. When we get a working building, between us and our mutual aid first alarmers we have 6 engines 1 ladder, 1 squirt,2 rescue, 2 ambulances.

    Only crew guarunteed to be there is 2 ambulances

    normally depending on the manpower you have on location and responding.
    If fire radio confirms that the building is working while we are enroute our officer in charge will assign a team as RIT or FAST team immediately before we are on location. Or when we get on location the RIT may be the rescue squad on our first alarm . The majority of companies in our County are RIT teams for neighboring communities.
    Last edited by hotboy; 01-30-2004 at 03:30 AM.
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    Default Re: Volunteers & RIT

    Originally posted by SwampBox
    I would like to know your thoughts on RIT and Volunteer Fire Departments. Normally a VFD is hard pressed for manpower. Should a RIT team only be established when the manpower is available? Let's say you only have 6 to 7 people respond. One is operating the truck. One is in command. That leaves 4 to 5 people left. If you put 2 on a RIT team that leaves 2 or 3 to fight fire. For a small structure that is only one room involved this may be enough but what about a larger structure when 3 or more attack lines are needed? Exposure protection etc. etc. I know you can call for Mutual Aid but at certain times we are still strapped for manpower.

    Had 2 structures on fire New Years morning. Amongst 4 departments there were only 14 firefighters.

    What I am getting at is should the RIT team be discarded in situations like these? Any suggestions?

    Mark
    RIT should never be ignored. Period. It is there for YOU.

    If you cannot establish a RIT, and you only have 4 or 5 people to do work, then maybe, just maybe, that is a building that the insurance company and the public have chosen to lose. We, as firefighters, have got to stop taking unnecessary risks when the taxing authorities and the insurance companies refuse to outfit us and staff us appropriately.

    Our job is to protect lives and property, sure. But our job is also to go home to our families after each run/shift. It doesn't matter how small the tax base is, if you can't get proper staffing and equipment, you shouldn't be entering structure fires except to rescue a savable life.

    We complain that the tax bases may not support us, yet almost every little town in America finds enough money to staff a full time police department...
    My comments are sometimes educated, sometimes informed and sometimes just blowing smoke...but they are always mine and mine alone and do not reflect upon anyone else (especially my employer).

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    Originally posted by firefiftyfive
    Having a FAST or RIT team is a very important crew to have at a fire scene. In my department as soon as we get a call for a possible structural fire we automatically call for a FAST team from a neighboring town. There fore we have a (hopefully) fully manned FAST team on the scene within 10 minutes of our arrival. So except for the first few minutes of a fire we have a FAST team on scene of every working fire. Those first couple of minutes though are tough if man power is lacking. But as a firefighter I never rely on a FAST team. I rely on myself and my team mates around me. You go in with someone you come out with that same person. (
    Relying on a neighbor for RIT is a great system; make sure they are trained in how YOU want RIT done. On my former FD, it is being instituted as a county-wide (4 county, actually) system so everyone is on the same page.

    Also, remember that most times a FF needs help in a building is within the 1st 10-15 minutes. You may be tempting fate by having the RIT arrive around the same time they may be needed. There is not a lot of time for planning, staging equipment, etc.
    My comments are sometimes educated, sometimes informed and sometimes just blowing smoke...but they are always mine and mine alone and do not reflect upon anyone else (especially my employer).

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    To put it simply if you dont have enough manpower for a RIT than STRIKE ANOTHER ALARM until you get enough!
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    A RIT team should be established everytime you have any working fire with guys inside
    If you don't have enough people for RIT and Attack, you won't have to worry about guys inside. And because of all this RIT and Minimum Manpower, having "Guys Inside" is becoming a thing of yesteryear. It seems as though Exterior Attack and Defensive Operations are becoming more and more acceptable, which is a crime to people who depend on us to save their property. Why even have a Fire Department if all you are going to do is stand there with a vest and clipboard, look pretty, use a bunch of terms like "Side Alpha" and "Side Charlie Division" and eventually wet dosn the embers. You can teach anyone to do that, why require hundreds of hours of training and millions of dollars in equipment?

    Firefighting is inherently DANGEROUS! Does the Military use RIT each time they get into a Firefight? If you can make a difference, make one. If you stand there with your thumb up your keester because you are afraid of getting hurt, then get an office job!

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    Originally posted by TillerMan25


    If you don't have enough people for RIT and Attack, you won't have to worry about guys inside. And because of all this RIT and Minimum Manpower, having "Guys Inside" is becoming a thing of yesteryear. It seems as though Exterior Attack and Defensive Operations are becoming more and more acceptable, which is a crime to people who depend on us to save their property. Why even have a Fire Department if all you are going to do is stand there with a vest and clipboard, look pretty, use a bunch of terms like "Side Alpha" and "Side Charlie Division" and eventually wet dosn the embers. You can teach anyone to do that, why require hundreds of hours of training and millions of dollars in equipment?
    True. But could the slight shift (and I argue it is slight) to defensive tactics be at all related to lower staffing and more poorly constructed buildings that fail more rapidly under fire conditions? Is firefighting dangerous? Yes. Is there a building worth dying over? Not for me. I assume not for you either.

    Originally posted by TillerMan25
    Firefighting is inherently DANGEROUS! Does the Military use RIT each time they get into a Firefight? If you can make a difference, make one. If you stand there with your thumb up your keester because you are afraid of getting hurt, then get an office job!
    Yeah, I think they do. They have the Air Force, the Marines, the Air Cavalry, Armored Cav, Air Assault, stealth fighters and bombers, UAVs, cruise missiles and the MOAB. In short, the military picks and chooses its fights by ensuring that it has enough manpower and equipment to get the job done safely and effectively, with as little risk as possible to the troops. When the fight comes as a surprise (and fires should never be a surprise to firefighters), then the ground troops call in AH-1s, AH-64s, A-10s and every other type of air support possible. Why?

    Because military commanders (sometimes overridden by politicians) refuse to place their troops in a position to lose. Shouldn't fire commanders do the same?
    My comments are sometimes educated, sometimes informed and sometimes just blowing smoke...but they are always mine and mine alone and do not reflect upon anyone else (especially my employer).

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    Originally posted by TillerMan25


    If you don't have enough people for RIT and Attack, you won't have to worry about guys inside. And because of all this RIT and Minimum Manpower, having "Guys Inside" is becoming a thing of yesteryear. It seems as though Exterior Attack and Defensive Operations are becoming more and more acceptable, which is a crime to people who depend on us to save their property. Why even have a Fire Department if all you are going to do is stand there with a vest and clipboard, look pretty, use a bunch of terms like "Side Alpha" and "Side Charlie Division" and eventually wet dosn the embers. You can teach anyone to do that, why require hundreds of hours of training and millions of dollars in equipment?

    Firefighting is inherently DANGEROUS! Does the Military use RIT each time they get into a Firefight? If you can make a difference, make one. If you stand there with your thumb up your keester because you are afraid of getting hurt, then get an office job!
    The military calls for the artillery and/or close in air support when the fecal matter hits the oscillation in a firefight....we strike additional alarms.

    Make a difference, but risk little to save little, risk a lot to save a lot. If a building is abandoned, dilapitated and inherently unsafe, the method of attack will be defensive ops only and exposure protection. The owner didn't give a fat rat's rump about it...why should we?
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    Captain, I agree with the abandoned dumps that occupy alot of cities all over the United States. Kind of like the Cold Storage place in Worcester, there are buildings of that type all over the East Coast ( I have never been to the West Coast)

    However, we are seeing an incresing number of "exterior" jobs on occupied single family dwellings with no reports of entrapment (when I say occupied, I mean someone is currently residing in the home, but not trapped)and that is bullscat. I didn't become a Firefighter to sit and watch someone possesions go up in smoke so I wont break a nail. But for unoccupied abandoned structures with no signs of life, defensive is the best way to go.....especially with turn of the century timber construction commonly found on this coast.

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    My department is the primary FAST company for 2 towns when its work, Chews Landing (8-2) and Runnemede (7-5) we have our driver, and officer, 3 other pack guys, and 1 junior member on the truck (the junior mainly to help with getting tools and other equipment that the FAST crewmen need, which i'm usually the junior sent on the FAST engine) we only have about 20 total members, but when "FAST COMPANY ASSIGNMENT" comes over the pager, we usually get a crew.

    Remember, the FAST company should not be doing any fire supression operations. If the FAST or RIT company is sent to do supression, another company should be dispatched to fill in as the FAST/RIT company.

    If we can't get a crew together 5 min after initial tone out, we tell county to go to the next station. We're not going to delay dispatch of another FAST company. but that usually never happens.
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    Once you commit to an interior attack, you are required to have a "RIT". It's called 2 in/2 out. It's an OSHA standard. Basically, it says that you have to have someone else ready to go in should a problem arise. The only time that you don't have to have a team ready at the time of entry is if there is an imminent danger to life and health of someone already inside. But even so, you are wise to get a team in place, "as soon as is practical". Strike a box; call mutual aid; whatever will get you the manpower that you need, including manpower for RIT.
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    Like CR just said, it is not an option up here. WCB (BC OSHA) mandates a RIT be in place within 5 minutes of making first entry into the building.

    We too suffer from the manpower shortage on many calls. To make up for it, we usually designate either the OIC/Safety Officer, or Pump Operator as 1/2 of RIT (those positions are always experienced ff's anyway), and then the second member sets up the RIT gear like a backup hoseline, packs and ropes, etc.

    Once enough guys show up, we set two guys on RIT and they become the replacement interior crew when the first crew needs to be relieved. We then either designate a new RIT, or if we are very short the first crew may have to become the RIT while they are rehabbing (not ideal, but sometimes it's the only choice).

    And yes, we may have to remain defensive on an otherwise winable fire if we do not have the manpower, or they are not able to perfom as RIT (rookies, exhausted ff's, etc.). Our nearest mutual aid is 35 minutes away, so they are little help to us on most house fires.

    We'll risk our butts when we need to, but as a few people have said, it is not worth any ff's life just to save property.
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    Thumbs up

    I would like to thank everyone for there responses. This is exactly what I was looking for a discussion to get some ideas to maybe implement amongst the 4 departments in the Parish.(Yes I'm from Louisiana) Things may get a bit easier because in April we will become part-paid.


    Be safe, Mark

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    RIT should never be ignored. Period. It is there for YOU.

    If you cannot establish a RIT, and you only have 4 or 5 people to do work, then maybe, just maybe, that is a building that the insurance company and the public have chosen to lose. We, as firefighters, have got to stop taking unnecessary risks when the taxing authorities and the insurance companies refuse to outfit us and staff us appropriately.

    Our job is to protect lives and property, sure. But our job is also to go home to our families after each run/shift. It doesn't matter how small the tax base is, if you can't get proper staffing and equipment, you shouldn't be entering structure fires except to rescue a savable life.
    Well said. Even if you don't have a true "FAST or RIT", at least make sure you have guys outside ready to go in if needed.

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    as '77 says thats the BOTTOM LINE !
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
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    When we have a structure fire here, mutual aid is call right away by dispatch. This ensures we have enough manpower. Between us, the township fire dept and the other two townships that could be called depending on which side of the tracks the fire is on, we have more then enough manpower there and/or standing by that can always be disregarded if needbe. If there is a building left to go into when we arrive at a fire, we go inside. When mutual aid is called in, they become part of the fire dept that has the fire and under their command. the team might be composed of my some of the mutual aid guys and some of our guys. There have been times where me mutual aid to the township and we have gone in ourselves or with one of them leading.

    In doing this, we usually save the house, as was the case the other night last week when we mutual aided the township and our chief and capt. went in behind one of the township guys to attack it, even though the township guy got scared by something and took off out of the house and left our chief and capt to put out the fire. Anyways, the house was saved, it merely burned the middle of it where the fire was started (arson) and holes in the roof from fire and vent.

    If the building is fully engalfed in flames, attack from the exterrior with be started and possibly some kind of entry attempted if unkown if anyone is inside. In the case of a garage fire, like the one we had last year that was in full flamage and cookin when we got there, that was soley an exterior attack because there was nothing to go inside of to save with all the chemicals such as paint and whatever else you may find in a garage and the vehicles.

    There have even been some instances where there was a house on fire and ammunition was inside the house going off, but we still went overseas, like the LT.

    Everyone here, new and old are trained to go in. The way we do this is we have an old brick 2 story shed that was used as a announcer booth at the old ballpark, now just a park behind the fire station. We smoke that out by setting hay on fire in a barrel and using a fog machine then with the window boards shut in the dark, no light box, go through it, up and down the stairs and around both floors with and w/o a hose doing a search. We then sit downstairs by the fire, take off our SCBA mask and then the training officer will take it up stairs and place it on the floor somewhere and we have to get up stairs and searh for it in the dark and smoke and then put it back on. Its tough, but fun.

    The even funner thing we do is go up to the Harris Township. They have a burn chamber. It is nothing more then 2 semi-trailers stacked up with stairs in middle. It also has vent openings on top and railing and space for a ladder along with doors and windows on both floors, just like a 2 story moblie home. The inside is all black. Someone will sit inside on top floor to get the fire going that is hay and wood. This heats up the place to like 300+ degrees F on the ground floor alone. They then call in the engines from staging area, we gear up, then a vent team gets on the roof and waits till vent is called for, another team sets up to go inside, then a backup team waits at the front door. You crawl through the thing up the stairs, then when you get to the room where the fire is, you MUST CALL FOR VENT, or else the guy will not open the door to the fire. This is so you will not get steam burns incase you try to attack the fire w/o vent being open. The vent team will then pull open the vent doors. The guy will open the door, you see the fire, then you put it out. They then relight the fire, teams switch around and do the same thing over again. It is a lot of fun, but VERY HOT IN THERE. So hot that if you lean up against the sides, long enough, you will get burned through your gear. One guy got to close and the plastic disposable flashlight on his helmet melted. They also had pics of a helmet that got so hot from being next to the wall that it melted and got all deformed.

    This was excellent training for new and old firefighters, and was as close to the real thing you could get with out going and lighting a house on fire and doing it.

    ---Steve, OCFD 1211---

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    Originally posted by OCFD1211
    Everyone here, new and old are trained to go in. The way we do this is we have an old brick 2 story shed that was used as a announcer booth at the old ballpark, now just a park behind the fire station. We smoke that out by setting hay on fire in a barrel and using a fog machine then with the window boards shut in the dark, no light box, go through it, up and down the stairs and around both floors with and w/o a hose doing a search. We then sit downstairs by the fire, take off our SCBA mask and then the training officer will take it up stairs and place it on the floor somewhere and we have to get up stairs and searh for it in the dark and smoke and then put it back on. Its tough, but fun.
    I understand the goal of this drill. But do you really think it is a good idea to put a person into a dark, smoke-filled environment (what OSHA fondly refers to as an IDLH environment), remove them from their air supply, hide their air supply, then make them go to a different floor to find the air supply and reconnect to it? That doesn't sound very OSHA-like or NFPA 1403-like to me.

    God forbid, if anything went wrong...
    My comments are sometimes educated, sometimes informed and sometimes just blowing smoke...but they are always mine and mine alone and do not reflect upon anyone else (especially my employer).

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    And yes, we may have to remain defensive on an otherwise winable fire if we do not have the manpower, or they are not able to perfom as RIT (rookies, exhausted ff's, etc.).

    And that is a perfect example of how within 20 years, the NFPA or some other textbook organization will outlaw interior attacks and we will plummet back to the 17-1800's when fires destroyed entire cities because there was either no Fire Department or they were inadequately equipped/trained. Yes, Rapid Intervention is Important, but it is fastly becoming the excuse for some department managers to justify needless property destruction.

    Fire Chief- "Sorry Mayor, we would've put that fire out, but we didn't have a RIT team in place and the NFPA says we gotta have one for an interior attack."

    So a basic, 5 Gallons of Water, 1 1/2 inch line with a combo nozzle and 2 guys, have turned into a foundation saving party.

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    Originally posted by TillerMan25
    Fire Chief- "Sorry Mayor, we would've put that fire out, but we didn't have a RIT team in place and the NFPA says we gotta have one for an interior attack."
    Should it be:

    Fire Chief-"Sorry Mayor, we would've put that fire out if we had been properly staffed and equipped. I won't continue to place my firefighters unnecessarily in harm's way."????


    Is that better than:

    Fire Chief-"Sorry Mrs. Murphy, your husband was a great firefighter. There was some valuable inventory in that building...and he gave his life protecting it. I am sure the insurance company and the owner will be grateful."????
    My comments are sometimes educated, sometimes informed and sometimes just blowing smoke...but they are always mine and mine alone and do not reflect upon anyone else (especially my employer).

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    I understand the goal of this drill. But do you really think it is a good idea to put a person into a dark, smoke-filled environment (what OSHA fondly refers to as an IDLH environment), remove them from their air supply, hide their air supply, then make them go to a different floor to find the air supply and reconnect to it? That doesn't sound very OSHA-like or NFPA 1403-like to me.
    Yes, might seem a bit risky, but it is to simulate I guess is what people trying to get out would be going through when we go into find them. This building is very small. 1 small room on top, one small room on bottom. There is a bail of hay in the middle of the top room to go around in a circle, kind of like acting like a table in the middle of a room. This leaves just enough crawl space to go around the top floor in a matter of seconds and back to the stairs, down them and straight out the door. If one does not wish to go that far and do that one, they dont have to, its not manditory or counted against them. Its so small in fact, that you are able to hold your breath and do it, but you are find as long as you stay low ;-). There are also two men waiting by the door outside which is exactly at the bottom of the small flight of stairs to go inside and someone should they get caught on something or disoriented, but you litterally can not miss the stairs on the top floor because one whole side is the banister and the rest of it is just barely enough space to go around. Now of course, if this were a real house, you would not know where things are or the size of the rooms or anything like that. To simulate that, we simply pull our trucks out of the bays, put tables and chairs what stuff in there like a room in a house, and have to go through that and clear it WITH our nomex hoods on backwards, then on the way back through, things will be changed.

    Also, they will put a hose in there and a pass device along with a VERY heavy dummy so simulate if there is a down firefighter in there, how to find him and get him out.


    ---Steve, OCFD1211---

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    We then sit downstairs by the fire, take off our SCBA mask and then the training officer will take it up stairs and place it on the floor somewhere and we have to get up stairs and searh for it in the dark and smoke and then put it back on. Its tough, but fun.
    Lairdsville, round 2.

    You really believe it's good training to have a guy near a fire, in a confined room, remove his SCBA, and put it on another floor?
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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