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It strikes me as being rather odd that we have all come to agree that a RIT activation requires significant resources and by in large most of us are behind the "8" ball when it comes to staffing levels to begin with, yet most agencies wait until units arrive on scene of an incident and declare it a "working" fire before they add at least one additional company to account for RIT responsibilities. Time and time again we have seen that the majority of Mayday calls come early in an incident (perhaps even before that RIT company has even been dispatched). The final thing that confuses me about this situation is that since I got into the fire service it has been preached to me that it is better to call for too many resources and have to turn them around if they aren't needed than to wait until you actually need them and then you have to play the waiting game. If anyone can help make sense of this for me I would be greatful.

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Bryan,
I agree that RIT does not take the priority that it should. We are fortunate that our Chief ( Vol. Dept.) has always used a backup line , since the days that the dept. only had 2 air packs. Those 2 in air packs were the backup team now called RIT team. But our standard operations only calls for a RIT when Firefighters are in an IDLH atmosphere. Which means that RIT is not necessary for Defensive operations, unless some crews are forced into operating in the collapse zone.
Ron,

Thanks for the reply. Your last sentence is exactly what I am talking about with RIT being lower on the priority list. Just because you start out in a defensive mode doesn't mean you will stay in a defensive mode for the entire incident. You also don't know what situations may present themselves at any time and force you into a rescue or other operation.

Lets put firefighter safety at the top of our priority list and commit to RIT early on and be prepared for Murphy's Law paying a visit. As Chief Mike Smith stated so eloquently at the Charleston Fire Safety Symposium last April:
"You can always send companies back if you don't need them, but you can't magically pull them out of your a** if you do!"

Stay Safe,

Bryan
I encourage everyone to obtain a copy of Vincent Dunn's article in July 2008 in Firehouse mag. He wonders as I have, even though I teach RIC and enjoy teaching it, has our profession over sold the RIC concept? Also read Phoenix, AZ report on the Bret Tarver incident and the subsequent training by PFD. Does anybody have the ability to send 12 to rescue 1 and be ready to have 3 of those 12 get in trouble themselves and need help? Do we need RIC on 2,500 sq ft or less residential? Commercial another animal, my opinion only if we concentrated on having 1 person do air management on the scene instead of three being ready for RIC, where would we be? If maydays are occurring before the RIC even arrives, what do we do? I ask everyone this question, why do we have to go in? Can't we hit through window and contain until we have resources in place? When they handed you your badge did they tell you, oh by the way you to die to safe an unsaveable life or property? So, why do we put our people in places we do not need to be? I have hit numerous fires from the outside and then went in did a good calculated attack, I tell you what I never, ever, pushed a fire through a home. Why do we not teach are firefighters if flames are blowing out of a bedroom window that this is not a rescue situation, this is a recovery! Another thought I will leave you with, when you went to the academy and when you do live fire training why do you train on air until the bell rings? Why are we not training to pull people out before the bell rings? The old saying goes we play like we practice, so if you train all the time on staying in a structure until your bell rings, you will do it on the fg no doubt!
I am not quite sure what you are teaching your firefighters or would have them trained to do. Well meaning civilians shoot water through windows. Trained firefighters weigh risks and do good size ups. Hitting the fire from outside on occupied buildings is an incorrect tactic, no matter how much you care about firefighter safety.
Ray everyone is entitled to their opinoin and I am teaching my firefighters to do calculated risk assesments on every structure, we use the Phoneix risk profile as I am sure you do. This was not ment to be posted for people to take personal shots at me or my companies, if you read the context it is to be thought provoking not finger pointing. I never did I say I hit occupied structures from the outside, however from the area I came from we ran a two person engine company, so sometimes yes I did knock it down from a window and then went in. If trained firefighters always go in and fight fire, is that why we kill how many firefighters on the fireground? I am not talking about total firefighter fatalities, but those directly realated to an agressive fire attack? When you have a room totally involved fire, what are you saving? A life? Nope that person is dead? I do not know about you but I am personally tired of seeing 100+ deaths a year.
Thanks PJ, I am glad you responded, I appreciate the respect and to be honest with you I am playing the devisl advocate role a little bit here. My references to hitting it from the exterior was the culture I came from where at most times our engines were staffed with two people because the MICU was at the ER. My point was we still hurt firefighters and do some stuff that if we looked really hard at the probelm, we probably would be able to solve it for ourselves, but we don't. 3:00 o'clock in the afternoon in an involved strip mall what is are life hazard, us! It's three o'clock 99% of the people self-evacuate. So in a sense we are risking a lot to save none, when we shoud risk a little or risk none. I mean really we could debate this topic till we all retire, but I was just trying to put some thought out there, we really need to take a look at do we really need to go! Your point on staffing and volunteer POV are exactly some of the things we need to be talking about. RIT is good, but I am not willing to give up on the other tasks that will make my members safe to put a RIT team in place at a structure fire. I feel the RECEOVS model is dated and should not be taugh. We should be making our prioirities on the fireground, FIREFIGHTER SAFETY, FORCEIBLE ENTRY, FORCIBLE EXIT, VENTILATION, EXTINGHUISHMENT,SEARCH,OVERHAUL.
Frank,

When someone posts 1950's ideology on a contemporary fire service community forum, one should expect to be called out on it; particularly when relating current logic to it in a somewhat vague context. What I understand from your post, you are implying that when a room is involved with fire, you are writing off the interior life hazard. While I agree that if the life hazard outside of the building is greater than the life hazard inside the building, then we can take a pass on putting ourselves in harm's way. However, we call these defensive fires and begin to operate accordingly; and you could parallel this same argument about heavy smoke in the room. Should we write off victims in smoke filled rooms and first put a smoke ejector in the window before entering? Smoke does us(victims) in long before fire does in most instances; and this can also be done with only two people. I am not attacking your principles or operational value-sets, just the logic of opening up the first line from the exterior on an offensive "calculated attack."
Digressing, I agree that maydays occur early in the game as companies and members begin placing themselves and operating in their respective areas of responsibility. I have been at several fires where maydays have been called for missing members, partial collapses, etc. The entire operation changes regardless of who and or how many are outside waiting for it to happen. Everyone not on the first line usually makes a bee-line towards the last known location of the missing or trapped member, save those members operating on other floors, wings, etc..A good practice? Probably not, but a witnessed reality nonetheless.
As an aside, if departments put these areas of responsibility in written SOPs, we would have a pretty good idea of where these guys are supposed to be when they call a mayday; thereby eliminating the fallacy of placing faith in the responsibility of RIT to determine where people are at. Rather, they should be ready to and focus on theremoval of a downed or incapacitated firefighter. We also need to understand that it is the numbers arriving on the first few companies that make the difference, not how many eventually get there; and not what kind of specialized rig they bring to the show. How many Squad and Rescue companies do you see flying down the street in many towns with two people on them? That's enough people to take these rigs for an oil change, not to remove downed firefighters.
Frank I am only repeating what you said. "I have hit numerous fires from the outside and then went in"" now you restate your case with "sometimes yes I did knock it down from a window and then went in" I understand that you are using the Phoneix model, however I am not sure it translates to hitting fires from windows. I never said firefighter always go in and fight fires. There are only two types of fire attack offensive and defensive. It is up to the officer to make the correct determination as to what mode to take for fire attack. Having been a company officer for fourteen years one thing distresses me more than others and that is the attitude that we give up before we start. People are dead already so why bother. I prefer to give it my all and then see what the results are I don't prejudge. I also do not believe that having firefighters do an agressive fire attack is as your tone makes it sound deadly, not all fires are fully involved in soon to collape structures.. We loose a lot more firefighters just driving back and forth. When we have a room totally involved in fire and we place a line between it and the egress of the home we are protecting the still to be located occupants and ourselves. I am also tired of seeing 100+ LODDs / year. But the real numbers have more to do with health and stress issues than fireground operations. The civilian life hazard of a building is not always what it seems.
Exactly my whole point the key ingredient everyone posts about is people, people, people. Apparently everyone has an idea and opinoin because they all post about personnel on scene. Well if I do have not have enough people for a good calculated interior attack and satisfy the b******* OSHA 2 in and 2 out, I am writing off the occupants and will do a defensive/offensive attack until I have the resources on scene. It's not my fire, its not my emergency, but THEY ARE MY PEOPLE and I am responsible for them to go home and see their spouses and hug their kids.
I have read your comments and I understand you want to keep YOUR PEOPLE safe.,We all want that Frank. Your post only conveys responsibility and compassion for your fellow firefighters. What about the public you SERVE. Remember them? Being a Battalion Chief representing your department in a public forum you state "it's not my emergency" It's not my fire" If it's not yours then who's problem is it. ? The occupants problem? When we arrive on scene it surely is our emergency or fire. It is too bad that you may be short staffed for a period of time on some calls however to write off the occupants as some sort of safety measure for your people is backwards. As firefighters we are the occupants last hope if we don't help them who will.
I guess thats the mentality of "BIG" city fire service and the suburbs. We strive safety and you can pick and choose on my words all you want, the bottom line is no one has ever been injured or killed by my actions, nor have I had a civilian casualty because of tactics and strategy I have provided. Agains these reflect my opinons on some things, not all things. My crews still operate in interior conditions and do coordinated and calcualted attacks. Although it may be fire when I get there, I am not the one who caused the fire and I will do my best in a calculated risk asessment manner. I will risk a lot in a safe an calculated manner to save saveable lifes, I will not risk the lives of my people for property and/or lives that are already loss. Thanks for the talk Ray I appreciate it the lines of communication. I love to discuss matters of the job with peole from all over the US. By the way not sure where you are at in the city, but if you ever make it "Red Hook" in Brooklyn, say hi to Ronnie Kingsley and Tom Quigley for me. I rode with Ladder 101, Engine 202, and Batt 32 last time when I was in town.
I think what everyone is saying is that we have a problem with RIT. I think RIT is a good concept but I think the currently taught method is ineffective. This discussion group is evidence of that.

I think that if we remove our frontline manpower from the jobs that need to be done , and assign them to a team (that according to studies cannot rescue a downed firefighter) just to say we are being safer; then we run the risk of creating a mayday situation when there might not have been one if those people had been allowed to perform basic fireground functions.

I think it is important to have a team in place but I am not currently pushing RIT training on our guys until I can find an effective plan. Instead I have been teaching firefighter survival and air management as well as what to look for in building conditions, fire progress, and smoke conditions so that they will not get into that situation. I am also a firm believer in the back up team doing their job and not becoming a secondary attack team. If the back up team is performing correctly then they should be able to assist the attack team if they get into trouble, hence the name back up team.

I don't think the answer to the problem is fighting fire from the outside. I know there are times that this may have to be done and I'm certainly not saying that we should risk our lives for something that is already lost, but I think someone stated that if it is to that point then it is a defensive situation. I'm not from "Big City", I help protect about 60,000 people, however I do think that it is our responsibility to make every attempt to save what we can. While I understand what is being said about it's not "my emergency" and "I didn't start the fire", we are the ones that are being called for help and I did take an oath as a firefighter. If the conditions allow for there to be a survivable victim in the structure then the conditions allow for me to go in and take care of buisiness.

If you attack the fire from the outside it may not always push the fire but it will always create steam and push the smoke into the survivable areas. Anyone who has ever put water on a fire in a confined area can testify to that, even with smooth bores. Ventilation efforts must be coordinated and take place before extinguishment if their are still victims inside even with an interior attack. Sorry to get off the subject I just don't want people that read these discussions to be lead to believe that it is okay to spray from the outside when an interior attack is possible.

Our RIT teams when called for do perform other functions such as place ladders for secondary means of egress, shut off utilities, recon information for the IC, assist the Safety Officer in monitoring the incident, etc. I am interested in hearing any ideas to improve RIT, it's greatly needed but the sterotype it has recieved has hindered the growing process.

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