Mayday: Fire training helps firefighters improve each other’s safety

FLINT TWP. — A Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) Class presented by the Oakland Fire Training Institute was hosted last weekend by the Flint Township Fire Department and will conclude this Saturday in Burton with realistic practice exercises.

The intense three- day course provides firefighters with a skill-set required to work as a member of a Rapid Intervention Team on the fire ground.

A $5,825 grant to The Genesee County Fire Chiefs Association from the Community Foundation of Greater Flint is covering two-thirds of costs for the class. Thirty firefighters attending the RIT class are from Argentine Township, Burton City, Clio Area, Davison Area, Fenton City, Fenton Township, Flint Township, Forest Township, Grand Blanc, Linden, Montrose Township and Mundy Township.

Fire Chief John Ringwelski described it as a “train the trainer” class.

“Four of us went and will come back and train the rest,” Ringwelski said in a report to the township board Monday night.

The training is designed to help firefighters help others who may be injured, trapped or otherwise in distress.

Through exercises including finding, picking up and moving a person through holes in the floor or down stairwells and putting on air apparatus in total darkness, the firefighters are learning self-help and rescue procedures, Ringwelski said.

“This is new for us,” he said. “This is part of a nationwide push with firefighters. It has become mandatory to have RIT teams on standby.”

A Rapid Intervention Team is made up of two or more firefighters dedicated solely to search and rescue of other firefighters in distress.

A RIT has no other operational assignment during an incident. Multiple alarm fires may require multiple RIT teams.

The training course covers basic RIT concepts and provides direction of who does what and when within the team. RIT skills are incorporated into three stages; Firefighter Survival, Firefighter Rescue, and Rapid Intervention Team Operations.

On the first day of training, firefighters focused on prevention skills and preparing to be members of a RIT. Skills include SCBA emergencies, MAYDAY, disorientation emergencies and emergency escape techniques.

Day two was spent learning individual techniques and skills involved in firefighter rescue such as emergency air supply, searching for a firefighter, assessing and packaging a downed firefighter, drags and carries, ladder rescues, rescues from entanglements, breaches, below grade and restricted areas.

On the final training day, taking place this Saturday at the Burton training warehouse, 3283 S Dort Hwy., firefighters will cover positions, assignments, and fire ground operations (proactive tasks, tool use, staging and more) of a RIT team. Skills include performing as the RIT Officer, Navigation, Air Supply and the Search and Packaging firefighter assigned to a RIT team.

Day three practice scenarios will combine all skills learned in the training under realistic fire ground conditions, while operating as a RIT in response to a fire ground MAYDAY. — R.S.

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