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Are We Just Checking a Box?

While at work the other night I took the opportunity to sit back and enjoy a cigar in the engine bay. The crew was inside having the typical conversations of sports talk, activities that would take place on the upcoming holiday, As I sat on the front bumper of our ladder truck I found my mind wondering (as it tends to do) and evaluating different things in the fire service industry.

The one thought that seemed to stay right in the front of everything else is one of the most over looked tools that every fire ground should have. Not just have but the quality needs to be looked at deeper, evaluated and dissected. What tool you ask? The answer is a Rapid Intervention Crew(RIC), Rapid Intervention Team (RIT), or Firefighter Assistance Search Team (FAST). Now we all have had the thoughts early in our career RIT SUCKS, or the other “If you’re FAST you’re LAST”. Now true in the past I have had the same thoughts, but I found as I started having more years under my belt that this is far from true. I have a few different thoughts on this. First and foremost, does your department have a RIT Team assigned to any working fire? Better yet do you know who your RIT Team is and what they are capable of? These are just some of the questions. Let’s dig a little deeper. Are they qualified? Do you have a top notch crew well disciplined, or do you have Larry, Moe and Curly standing on the lawn, half assed at the ready smoking cigarettes and bullshitting. Establishing a RIT Team is more than just checking a box and saying yup I covered that. If anyone reading this is on a RIT Team, on arrival do you check in with the incident commander (IC), do you conduct a 360 degree of the structure, throw ladders for egress (for you and those inside), do you have all the suggested equipment a RIT Team is supposed to have in the event a firefighter calls a MAYDAY. How often do you train on SCBA swap outs, disentanglement of a firefighter, low profile maneuvers, and drags? Being assigned as a RIT Team should be viewed as an honor. You are being tasked with the responsibility to save a fellow firefighter in the event they have a MAYDAY. Their life is on the line. You are much more than a Yard Sheppard who is tasked with a boring job. Your job isn’t about what you do; it is what you may have to do. You need to look deep inside you and your team and make sure you bring your A Game every time you are called. Take the job serious; realize it’s bigger than you. Realize you are what may stand between life and death of the firefighter who needs help.

The last thing you want to do is shit the bed. Remember we are supposed to be professionals at what we do. You can’t just call time out. Stay safe, keep banging on your craft and take what we do serious...

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