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Just finished a very comprehensive class on RIT tactics (train the trainer). The focus of this class was to train those of us who will be training FD personnel in our department in a sort of "back to the basics" attempt to establish a baseline of skills for RIT's. We are a large department and one that is proactive in training to the degree that we are willing to stow ego and begin again on a topic that really noone will ever really have complete mastery of, or control over as every situation encoutered by RIT commands its own individual response.

That being said, point was raised during intermission that the RIT officer was in effect responsible for the members of his crew (a fact that I am in no contention with) and as such the rabbits in front of him need to slow to a point that he can manage them (a fact that I am respectfully in contention with).

In the scenarios that I was able to watch, (while catching my breath) it seemed to me a huge disparity between those in the front (deployed for search), and those in the rear (deployed as the RIT officer and Nav-air spot).

Upon hitting the door the searchers consistently took aim with hand on the hose line and tool at the ready and "booked it" into the fire on all fours, while those with the TIC (officer) and those with the rope(nav-air) strolled into the search rather languidly on their knees. It should be noted that the Officers and Nav-air members were not lazy, (all hard chargers at this school), but rather, seemed more concerned with safety and calculation than I would expect a search for a downed member would demand.

I can assume that the responsibilities of the officer are great, though I am in fact not an officer. I am not willing to say, though, that his/her responsibility for scene control and personnel accountability should in any way mitigate the urgency with which we must act as RIT. Going in for one's own is perhaps the most difficult thing I can imagine on a fireground, and stressful from the top to the bottom.

In my future teaching of this cirriculum, would it be wrong to stress to the two ends of the search the need for rapid, and controlled movement through the fireground search? To what end do I make my argument? Should an officer be told to pick up the pace? Am I being hypercritical or unsympathetic to the postition of RIT officer and its inherent responsibilities?

If it be the case that my critique is unfounded please know that it is out of ignorance to the position and not because I am a cowboy or a proponent of freelancing on the fireground. I know well and am adherent to personnel accountability policies on the job.

My argument, and one for which I am seeking edification, is that while searchers need to communicate and possibly reign in their eagerness and aggression in search, officers need to speed up and bridle their urges toward constraint. RIT deployments demand, as I see it, a fine balance between urgency of movement and calculated progression.

Submitted respectfully and with admiration for the fallen Brothers in Buffalo.

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I'm gonna speculate a little and say that in a real RIT deployment the sense of urgency will probably be increased. That being said, I'm gonna humbly offer my perspective as a company officer. When I was riding backwards, I felt invincible and put all responsibility of safety on the officer. Now that I am an officer, the weight of that responsibility is a humbling thing, and it should be. I know that with the normal group of hard charging firefighters, when an officer turns the leash loose, they're gonna charge forward, especially when emotions run high. Knowing that I am responsible for not only completing the mission, but doing it with the safety of someone's life, not just my own anymore. Also, during the search you describe, the searchers main goal is to search. The officer needs to think about how they are going to complete the mission, maintain orientation, listen to the radio, worry about conditions, and watch his hard chargers. All this will (and should) slow him down. If you get hurt that officer will spend the rest of his life blaming himself, especially if he feels it could have been prevented.

I am always saying that we are being safety-ed to death anymore. We have a dangerous job and at times we are expected to take risks, and we should. But at the same time we can't take crazy chances,it has to be controlled. So there is the fine line we walk.

Bryan Lafleur

"There is too much tact and not enough courage in today's American society. Maj. Gene Duncan, USMC
Thanks Bryan. I don't want to come off hypercritical, or like a know it all, it just seems to me that speed needs to be taught to the officers as well.

I hear the same argument a lot in the fire service: "I'm the officer, and you are in my charge...." and again, I do really understand the reasons behind span of control. I've been cussed as a newboy for leaving the porch when directed to stay and I rely on the officer to protect me when I've got my head down "doing work."

It just seems that in the name of protection, we are crippling the rescue efforts. I don't want to become another victim, as the saying goes, but there is somebody, brother or sister that needs us to get in fast, if nothing else to assess and place on a fresh supply of air.

Do you feel that this difference in pace could be alleviated by communication? It is our policy and I think the trend to stay in voice communications with our officer and air nav. Meaning that as long as one can hear the voices of their team members then they are within reasonable distance and can be reigned in appropriately, or as needed to stay safe.

I personally like the idea of the officer entering the structure to listen for a bit before admitting his search crew in. Then like a jumpmaster on an airplane the officer could give the all clear to enter. I like this for two reasons:

1. Officer gets a chance to point his men in a direction. Upon entering he can say "follow the line," or "screw the line, the PAS is coming from this direction,"
2. All the members will be accounted for at the start without getting the "jump" on the officer while he uses his tick or his senses to decide his course. With a direction to go, all members can head off with the officer's confidence that they have at least been reasonably briefed as to conditions and expectations.

With proper communication it seems that the time spent in sizeup, would counterbalance or sway flex time to the favor of the seachers as they would not have to be slowed, or re-directed unnecessarily. At intervals the officer could halt search to re-evaluate conditions and then consult his men for input.

I feel that this could be reasonably accomplished while still allowing for rapid search and allowing the officer to keep up. Not that it was implied by your post but an officer with his head in the TIC is too reliant on technology, slow and ineffective.

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