OSHA 29 CFR 1910.134 IF FIREFIGHTERS MUST ENTER AN AREA THAT IS IMMEDIATLEY DANGEROUS TO LIFE AND HEALTH (IDLH) THAT TWO MEMBERS SHOULD ENTER TOGETHER AND REMAIN IN VISUAL OR VOICE CONTACT WITH ONE ANOTHER AT ALL TIMES. RADIO CONTACT ONLY HAS BEEN DEEMED UNACCEPTABLE DUE TO THE POSSIBILITY OF RADIO FAILURE AND POSSIBLE CHANCE OF INABILITY TO OPERATE THE RADIO BY THE AFFECTED FIREFIGHTER IN AN EXTREME SITUATION.
1021 1001 1401 1500 NFPA 1407 1720 1983 1561 1710 1981 Standard for Training Fire Service Rapid Intervention Crews
RIT STUDY FINDINGS Average rescue personnel 12 Average time 12 minutes It took an average of eight to nine minutes to reach the downed firefighter from The time of the Mayday. Average time to find, package and secure an air supply and remove firefighter was 22 minutes. An average of 12 firefighters to rescue each downed firefighter, while one in five of the rescuers experienced a Mayday of their own. Times obtained were not under heat and smoke conditions. An involved, lengthy extrication process was not required for the Downed firefighter.
RIT / FIREGROUND SURVIVAL
Definition Mayday as defined by Webster's Dictionary: an international radio-telephone signal word used as a distress call. It derives from the French m'aider, meaning "come help me". The mere phrase “Mayday” has forever changed the careers and lives of many dedicated fire service professionals & became is the reason behind RIT.
Firefighter Distress Signal Initiation or transmission of a firefighter distress signal produces more stress and potential chaos than any other single type of incident we may encounter throughout our careers. As firefighters, fire officers and trainers, we must develop a standard plan of action that allow us to properly manage and overcome these chaotic and stressful events.
IS RIT THE SOLUTION?
Preparing & Planning for a “MAYDAY” call Preplanning structures in your district can empower command with much needed information in a Mayday / RIT situation Proper risk management coupled with a structured firefighter survival program enables today’s firefighters to understand the associated risks they are to encounter. Properly trained firefighters who are trained and disciplined in RIT tactics and skills.
Pre-fire planning / Pre-fire Analysis Case studies have shown that the success or failure of any “Mayday” incident is a direct result of effective ICS and pre-fire planning. The best preparatory effort given to the fireground commander is the pre-plan or the pre-fire analysis. What are a few “firefighter killers” in our district?
Frank Brannigan Frank Brannigan once stated, “There is no substitute for the fire department developing a system of accumulating and organizing information for retrieval at the time of the fire”.
Five Pre-fire Indicators : Potential “Mayday” incident and/or compromised fireground operations: Weight - excessive weight in the overhead should be of immediate concern to the IC when deciding to deploy additional firefighters during a rescue effort. This may include: HVAC units, large billboards, storage tanks, etc. Fuel Loads - Excessive fuel loads (flammable or combustible) are an indication of potential rapid-fire spread which may lead to firefighters being trapped or overcome during initial firefighting. Building History – Previous fires, structural collapses, renovations (known & unknown) to the IC may lead to the entrapment of firefighters.
Pre-fire Indicators (con’t) Deterioration– A factor to the fireground continues to be vacant buildings or buildings in ill repair. As firefighters we’re taught early on that all buildings are occupied until proven otherwise. Pre-fire planning should enable the IC which buildings require absolute defensive operations to support firefighter safety and survival. Support Systems / Truss Construction – Examples of firefighter fatalities have been shared with the fire service for years. Bowstring and light weight truss construction must be of utmost importance to the IC.
Truss Collapse Being under a burning truss , is like playing Russian Roulette with a loaded revolver. (Most notable bowstring truss collapse is the Hackensack, NJ fire which killed several firefighters). As fireground commanders begin to consider deploying RIT teams for rescue efforts, careful consideration must be given to the potential of truss collapse, which could further complicate if not compound the rescue efforts. (This should also be considered before deploying interior attack teams).
Firefighter Survival Training Firefighters who have been properly trained in self-survival skills can greatly enhance the possibility of a successful RIT team rescue. Standardized, predictable actions of a trapped, lost or disoriented firefighter will enable rescuers to locate and remove the firefighter in a more timely and effective manner.
10 Standardized Actions for Lost and Disoriented Firefighters Initiate an emergency “Mayday” / Activate Emergency Distress Button. Stay “calm” and preserve your air supply. Activate P.A.S.S.
10 Standardized Actions for Lost and Disoriented Firefighters (cont.) Provide a situation / problem report. If trapped or disoriented as a crew, it’s imperative to “stay together”. Search for an exit – look for light. Attempt to follow a hose line or life line to safety.
10 Standardized Actions for Lost and Disoriented Firefighters (cont.) Retreat to an area of safety. Assume a horizontal position (if possible) to enhance the audible signal of your P.A.S.S. and enhance thermal protection. Use your flashlight as a beacon device and attempt to making tapping noises using tools or other objects.
Fireground Preparations: Proactive fireground preparations for survival cannot be over stated! Proactive ladders - provide secondary means of egress and serves as an immediate access point for RIT members Scene lighting at entry point or all 4 sides if possible – provides enhanced firefighter accountability and directional orientation for lost or disoriented firefighters. Back-up / Safety lines – provides an additional line of support in case of rapid-fire development.
Discipline / Enforcement Strict discipline and strong enforcement enable fireground commanders to adequately account for and assign the necessary crews to complete the task without the fear of freelancing or contradictory actions. RIT – In the event of a Mayday incident, physical and mental limitations will be taxed to the limit, rescuers must be forced to follow rules of personal safety at all times. Teams that fail to follow the directions of the IC and their respective RIT Officer will most likely become victims themselves.
Discipline / Enforcement (con’t): Suppression Personnel – Personnel assigned to fire attack / suppression operations must overcome the desire to get involved. Previously assigned fire attack/suppression crews must maintain their position in order to limit the threat of flame impingement on the trapped or disoriented firefigter(s). A trapped or disoriented firefighter has two factors working against them: 1) limited air supply and 2) flame impingement barring the fact that direct physical trauma is not involved.
Tragic Training Memories: Firefighters in Boulder (CO) and around the nation are remembering one of its worst days when two of their own died during a training exercise. On January 26, 1982, Fire Engineer Bill Duran and FF Scott Smith died when the fire flashed and ran through the abandoned garage where the live fire training was held.
Tragic Training Memories (con’t) The flashover also forced surviving FF Dan Cutler through a wall...ending up with burns over 60 %. Hearings were held to figure out what caused the deaths and found there were still combustible ceiling tiles in the building. There were also no water supply established, no back-up engine companies for the training and firefighters did not do a walk thru to find the exits....amongst other problems. This tragic LODD was "the final straw" for the creation of NFPA 1403, “Standard for Live Fire Training”.
Critical Factors Personnel Safety – as rescue efforts begin, adrenalin often times overruns our ability to think clearly which may inevitably lead to rescuer injuries which further complicates the rescue operation. “Be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem”. Communication – The IC must maintain constant communication with RIT team(s) throughout the incident.
Deployment of the RIT RIT should be deployed only after a quick briefing of known facts from the IC. By adequately identifying the last known location, number of personnel involved and the possible cause of deployment of RIT, personnel can properly prepare themselves for assignment and ensure proper equipment is deployed.
3 Things the to consider when deploying RIT personnel Initial RIT (Reconnaissance Team) Locate the downed, trapped member(s) Establish a tractable means of access to the victim(s) Determine additional needs (air, water, fans, extrication, thermal imaging cameras, etc.) Suggested team size: 2 firefighters, 1 officer
Deploying RIT personnel (con’t) Secondary RIT (Stabilization/Removal Team) Provide equipment and personnel as requested by the Recon Team Begin extrication process, clear debris for rapid egress Suggested team size: 2-4 firefighters
Deploying RIT personnel (con’t) Third and subsequent RIT (Support Team(s) Provide external support as requested by initial teams Provide personnel to relieve initial teams
Termination of Rescue Efforts Although no firefighter, fire officer or IC ever wants to terminate a rescue effort, firefighter safety “must” remain the top priority. As unfortunate as it may be, the IC must terminate the rescue efforts when conditions begin to jeopardize the safety of those involved. No decision, order or assignment ever given by an IC during their career will ever bare equal weight. It’s decisions of this nature that will ultimately decide the number of members lost or injured.
Summarizing a “MAYDAY” Incident PAR – upon immediate distress signal, call for a PAR of on-scene units. Initiate RIT Operations – utilizing a technique that is expedious. Hazard Assessment – Upon locating downed firefighter(s), RIT personnel must quickly perform a hazard assessment to ensure their own safety.
Summary (con’t) Identify victim needs – air supply, fire impingement, extrication needs, etc. Initiate victim removal (if possible) – an initial progress report of findings and/or actions should be relayed to the IC. Provide medical care – upon removal from the hazard area, on-scene EMS personnel should provide immediate care / transport.
Summary (con’t) PAR – once victim(s) have been extracted from hazard area, another PAR should be given by all on-scene companies. Post-incident analysis / debriefing – following all RIT deployments a formal post-incident analysis should be conducted to review, revise and update existing procedures.
Conclusion Assume the worst and prepare for the worst. By doing this we enable yourself to overcome anything less than the worst with positive results. Preparing for anything less will put you in a reactionary or catch-up mode during a high stress, high emotional incident in which the lives of fellow firefighters lie in the balance. Are there any questions?