-Don't confuse RIT and 2-in/2-out. While there are similarities, there are also differences.
-2-in/2-out is part of the OSHA 29FCFR1910.134 Respiratory Protection REGULATION. It is an adminstrative law enacted by the executive branch of the federal government and in many states adopted by the state agency responsible for its enforcement. If you do not know the legal basis for the enforcement of such laws in your state you should learn it (not to get off track but it has to do with the 14th amendment of the U.S. Consitution).
-In my department we define the 2-in/2out and RIT on a sliding scale.
Phase 1: First arriving companies are to go to work. Interior crews in teams of 2 or more members. At least 2 members on the exterior as the 2-out team. This team usually has other jobs (such as pump operations on our tender or horizontal ventilation). In many cases the two members making up the 2-out are from differnt companies. THIS PHASE OF THE OPERATION LASTS LESS THAN 5-10 MINUTES. Out goal is meet the regulation and buy time until the below company arrives.
Phase 2: If the first company declares a working fire of any kind, 5 additional companies are dispatched and one of these will be assigned as the Intial RIT. The original alarm had 5 companies and 15 members.
Phase 3: If the fire is not out by the time the working fire assignment begins to arrive then a full second alarm (a Mutual Aid box alarm) is dispatched. This alarm will assign an engine, a truck and a chief with 9 members as the RIT.
-Should there be a bonafied rescue on arrival (parent says child in in a specific location, for example) all bets are off nad we go to work. The 2-out are now part of the rescue.
-To take the OSHA 2-in/2-out to the letter, once the fire is out and SCBA and a 1&1/2 inch or larger hose line is not longer required for extinguishment then the 2-in/2-out rule no longer applies. This is not to say that RIT is still not a good idea.
Now, to address a couple of other points raised:
1. It really does not matter where you attack the fire from. It matters what you are trying to do and if you can accomplish it using the selected tactic. Attack from the exterior does not equal a defensive tactic nor does simply entering the fire building make an attack offensive. Can you safely and adequately knock down the fire from the main entry door or a window or must you enter to reach the fire? While it is customary to enter, is it necessary? Will ten feet into an involved room change the effect of a stream that can reach 30 feet? Almost every room of a residence (with the exception of some bathrooms and closets) has an exterior wall with a door or window that will permit access to the fire area and allow us to knock down the fire until entry can be achieved.
2. In many fires we achieve knock down and extinguishment in one step. When short handed what we need to do is STOP the fire from making things worse and gain time to allow the balance of the alarm assignment to arrive and help. This means confining and preventing exposures (usually interior) from burning. Remember RECEO? We do not need to protect exposures, confine the fire then extinguish it and immediately begin overhaul. It's great when we can but when we can't we need to slice the pie into more bite-sized pieces.
I'm sorry but I cannot agree with the statement of it "It really does not matter where you attack the fire from. It matters what you are trying to do and if you can accomplish it using the selected tactic." If we are attacking a fire from an outside window it's a defensive posture and we are stating that the environment inside is too dangerous for us to be in there with all of our PPE and SCBA's. At least temporarily, we have written the occupants off. Especially since they aren't afforded the protection of all of our fancy gear. I'm not saying that we can't transition back to an offensive tactic if conditions change but so do the chances of any victims left inside. I know that we must perform a risk benefit on each and ever structure fire and it's constantly re-evaluated on everything from staffing to fire conditions. But when we start advocating that stuffing a hose line in a window is an aggressive offensive attack we are going the wrong way. Preservation of Life comes first! How do we clear the building? By going inside and making a search. If you're original statement were to hold true all the time, then we could get a good knock on everything from the street with a deck gun and there would be no need for those SCBA's. I know, it's an extreme point but you see where I'm going with this. Fires should be put out from the inside to the outside unless it's too dangerous to commit interior crews, and if that's the case then we have put civilians lives down the priortiy list or written them off completely.
As far as the 2/2 rule; it's a shell game to satisfy the number crunchers. Tell me that a chief outside in his civies and a pump operator probably also in his civies, makes it any safer for the two guys fully bunked out and going inside. It doesn't! What everyone knows that we need on scene is more bodies ready to go to work. But that's just my personal opinion.
Thanks and stay safe, but don't lose the aggressivess that makes us good firefighters.
Jason, you hit the nail on the head. Most of the replies address 2 in 2 out but the real questions was tactics. Is the inderect attack still viable? And will a strait stream push the fire?
-A consistent theme with many respondents is that the occupancy be void of occupants in order to really go to work with the hand line, even through the window. The key to this tactic being acceptable, they have said, is that the occupancy is empty.
-So how do you know? The answer is that firefighters don't know until they have made entry. Period. Until such time as the primary being completed firefighters must consider the structure to be occupied. The occupancy type and/or information from bystanders is not reliable. The only way to be sure is to perform the primary search.
-Something started the fire. Even abandoned buildings need to be searched. Short of a lightning strike someone got in and started the fire; and they still may be inside.