I come from a rural area as you all know and often times we don’t quite have the staffing for an attack and a RIT team until the next due arrives which can be anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes, it just varies.
However I can recall fires where a RIT team deployed and helped the interior teams with their problems.
Many years ago there was a fire at a Limestone mine and the fire is in an underground basement of sorts it had a conveyor system that carried product from the bottom of the mine up to where it would go to the next process. Which was a cooking process of sorts’ great big ovens cooked this limestone why I don’t know I’m not a geologist. Anyhow this thing had sub levels and such and fuel wise it was all rubber belting and oils etc. nasty stuff.
The first in crew went ahead and made the push and got down there without any issues until they got down there in this cellar of sorts. The high heat had them baffled as to where the fire was located and with the smoke they were struggling to see anything (back before a tic was a readily available tool). The crew made the seat and started hitting it 2nd due arrived maybe 8 minutes behind first due (punched out at same time) they established RIT (2 guys) and sat at the opening of the building this cellar was in (basically a basement under a metal pole barn if you will). The interior team ran low on air and the heat had them disorientated as they turned around. RIT team was deployed and they went in and got them out under their own actions basically they didn’t need dragging out. All went well fire was put out went good.
Another fire that stands out involved a loss of communications with the interior team and conditions getting worse so the RIT team (2 man) was sent in to see if they went down or wheir having troubles making the fire room etc. It was simply a case of communications error.
But these two stories hold a lot of info. Is a 2 man crew enough for a RIT team? Do we even need a RIT established?
The answers are simple yes we need a RIT team and at times you may only need 2 crew members but RIT is also there for the worst case scenario. And in that case is a 2 person team enough?
I am sure there are some out there who would be capable of dragging out a 300 pound firefighter but what about the smaller firefighters who don’t lift weights or do cross fit in their sleep?
Another thing I hear a lot of is that we can’t afford anyone to stand around waiting for a job to do (firefighter down). But do they really need to just stand around with nothing to do? There are always things to do.
I remember a fire I was on where the RIT team did exposure protection while the first interior line did there thing. The house might need “softening”. They may be able to help with PAR accounts at the fire door ready to go in if need be but the point is there are a lot of things to do, so ask yourself, “If they do this task will it hinder their response or work as the RIT team?
So how many are too few and how many are too many for a RIT team? In rural America to get a FDNY fast truck you’re going to likely need two trucks to get that staffing. Is it possible? Sure. But how fast will it take to get that staffing? That is an entirely different story. The best thing to do is call for your mutual aid early and often. Remember you can always cancel them if it turns out to be nothing.
At the end of the day thou the thing to keep in mind if you don’t have the staffing is be crafty. Can I hit it from the yard? If I do what is that going to do to the interior areas? Is this a room and contents or a fully involved house? Do I want the responsibilities of ordering an interior attack without having a RIT team in place and something going wrong?
Remember prep for the worst at your fires don’t be afraid to call for help early and often.