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This is one of those Hump Day SOS's that I still get an occasional email about. I've even seen it show up in a few folks presentations. This will make the 3rd time sending it out but sometimes things just need to be repeated for new members following the blog that might of missed it and for those who didn't quite understand it the first time. I've updated the article and added a couple more thoughts.

Prevent RIT....Properly Staff the 1st Attack Line!

How many people are needed outside the building while a company is struggling to make the second or third floor with the 1st hose line? My friend,, the late Tom Brennan said it best, “You know what we used to call RIT in my day? Having enough guys on the scene to do what we needed to do. We always had a couple units that were back up, we just didn’t call them RIT.”  The RIT concept is supposed to ensure that enough members are on the scene to initiate the rescue of a firefighter if one becomes trapped or in distress. Great concept that has totally been carried to an extreme very early in the incident by some. When members are assigned to RIT its like a switch is turned off and the eternal flame is extinguished. You can hear it in the disparaging acknowledgement of their assignment on the radio………. The frustration is often carried over because bad overzealous instructors or maybe overreaching policy demands that once  you are assigned to RIT, you are required to stand and wait until something bad happens.

Have you ever witnessed a company calling for someone to help with pulling a little slack on a line and a RIT is standing right beside it and never touches it? We don’t need to do away with RIT but some need to use some common sense and remove the off switch. RIT needs to help the incident commander prevent firefighters from becoming trapped and sometimes that might include humping a little hose for just a few seconds in the initial few minutes so the inside crew can apply the liquid safety (water) to the fire and prevent the need of their rescue. It is a proven fact that if the attack line reaches the fire quick enough and water is applied to the fire there is 99.9% chance that you will not have to bailout a window, call for RIT and or sound a MAYDAY.

RIT should build up with the incident but you can’t expect to have everything in place in the initial minutes of a fire. Please don’t let a one room fire turn into a raging inferno while you are waiting to assemble a 4 company RIT. Remember RIT doesn’t make things “safe” sound fundamentals and skilled crews operating efficiently and putting water on the fire make things safe. RIT is a backup in case something goes wrong but it should never prevent things from going right.

Don't find yourself being so "safe" with your establishment of RIT that you abandon the fundamentals. Two firefighters attempting to stretch a line to the 2nd floor with 4 firefighters standing outside watching or even 2 standing by watching is just like the Public Works crews we all find humor in with 4 guys watching 1 guy fix a pot h***. Please prevent RIT and properly staff that 1st attack line!

Lay down thy hooks ye yard Sheppard’s and pull some hose!”

AND OH YEAH, Its not a RIT Team! RIT stands for Rapid Intervention Team so if you add a Team to RIT you have a Rapid Intervention Team Team. If you do so, you probably also have a Hot Water Heater. If that doesn't make sense to you, then just don't worry about it and consider yourself special and thanks for reading. 

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Comment by Michael Teague on March 20, 2015 at 1:06am

It's like the ER Room. Department of Redundancy Department.

Each time we review our SOG's we move RIT farther down the priority list. We will staff a two out position that gives the company officer a lot of leeway in what to do. We want the two out crew to take initiative to handle any problems that they see. For example if the attack crew is having difficulty moving the line the two out crew should help. Or if the company officer feels the first line is not handle the fire, he can move in to assist. 

We are lucky though as we get large first alarm response (24 firefighters) and most of the time get the whole alarm on scene in less than 10 minutes. 

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