Firefighter rescue teams (whether called RIT, RIC, FAST or one of a host of other acronyms) are essential and necessary to our survival on the fire ground. To be effective, firefighters assigned to a firefighter rescue team need to have the right tools. Let’s look at a few of those.
As a firefighter, your survival and your ability to carry out your assigned task depend, in part, on the tools “in your pockets.” Those tools and equipment are also very useful for firefighter rescue.
The tools are:
- A 10-foot webbing strap
- A pair of lineman pliers
- 30 feet of webbing or rope
- A sharp knife or box cutter
These are just a few of the personal tools one must have to be effective at firefighter rescue. The tools are important but knowing where they are carried in your gear is essential. Not everyone sets up their pockets the same way; use whatever works for you. Under stress, in limited visibility, and with limited access you must be able to quickly locate and use them.
Initial Rescue Team Tools
The firefighter rescue process can be broken down into three functions: locate and maintain; extricate and remove; and RIT for RIT. The initial rescue team must have a “quickly mobile” mindset and not be burdened with unnecessary baggage as they move to locate the downed firefighter. Any tools carried should be strictly for the rescue function of locate and maintain.
The initial rescue team should have the following:
- Search rope
The search rope should be between 150 feet and 200 feet long and have orientation knots every 20 feet. This rope should be quickly deployable and packaged in such a way as to not kink or tangle during deployment.
- Large wire cutters
- Forcible entry kit (halligan and axe)
- Emergency air set-up for the downed firefighter
- A sling set-up for firefighter movement
- 30 feet of webbing to assist in moving the downed firefighter
- 4 large “D” style ladder hooks
Each one of the listed tools are essential to address the locate, maintain and quickly remove functions of the firefighter rescue team. (In instances where extrication may be required, an additional set of tools will be needed by the extricate and remove team.)
Be safe, stay low and keep learning.
Photo courtesy of Michael R. Rehfeld.