Rapid Intervention Roles & Responsibilities

Happy Holidays, after a short break for vacation we’re back…  A while ago Brian Rayner asked about some thoughts on RIT responsibilities, so while it took me a while – I usually come through.

I’m going to share with you the recently revised policies for the DCFD on this topic.  Let me start off by saying that I don’t think this “the light”, or the only way.  I do think it’s a good idea, and that they work well.  But ultimately I’m just sharing what we do.  Hopefully you guys have some better ideas to share back, or maybe you’ll pick up something to take back and make work for your department….


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Two Fires Worth Looking At & Thinking About…


Tech. Kyle Wilson - LODD 4/16/07

On April 16, 2007, 24 year-old Kyle Wilson was killed in the line of duty while operating at a house fire in Prince William County, Virginia – just south of Washington, DC.  Just over a year later, on May 25, 2008, seven firefighters in Loudoun County, VA  (just northwest of DC) were injured, two critically, in a fire that bears a lot of similarities.  The Fire Departments of both Prince William and Loudoun Counties have released not only comprehensive written reports, but some pretty informative videos.  

Instead of watching that 6th episode of “Family Guy” today, take some time and at least watch these videos. Take some time to think about what you see and don’t see, what you hear, and how you could prevent this from happening to you or your crew at your next fire.


Link to Meadowood Court Video

Link to Meadowood Court Video

Link to Kyle Wilson LODD Video

Link to Kyle Wilson LODD Video

Do you know where you are?

Think about where you are right now.  Yeah, I’m talking about right now.  As you sit here reading this blog.  Can you describe your location in the building?  If you had limited or no visibility are there characteristics that can be identified to depict the room your in?  In order to reach your location, what did you encounter?  Did you go up or down stairs, pass through any doors?  The questions formed above are just a few of the things that can keep you from getting in or out of trouble!  Continue reading

Circle-Checks & Size-Up

Side A/B

Side A/B

The other day, while talking about basement checks, the idea of a “circle check” came up.  This may show us hazards & conditions we would not be aware of if we just rushed in the front door…  Quite bluntly – the time to do this is IMMEDIATELY.  If we don’t know the whole story, we may employ inappropriate tactics, or worse, hurt/kill one of our own.

At right is a fire in Burtonsville, MD that occurred on September 20.  Take a look and think about your initial size-up.

  • Building use.
  • Building construction.
  • Building size/height.
  • Fire conditions/location.

Then click below to see what this fire has to do with “circle checks” or “side-C size-ups.

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For the Chiefs: MAYDAY Management

A MAYDAY incident can be one of the most difficult incidents you’ll ever have to manage.  There is so much information and so much emotion… Everyone will be yelling at you: in person, on the radio.  Plus, you still have a fire to run.

I am certainly NOT of the “command boards and vests solve our problems” school of firefighting, however just like any other good, functional tool the proper command sheets can help you streamline the management of your incident and prevent you from forgetting important details.

Attached is the District of Columbia Fire Departments newly revised MAYDAY Management Worksheet.  This is a city-wide sheet used by all command officers to manage the initial stages of a mayday.  I think it has some very good parts:


  • The left side of the front serves as a checklists to make sure essential duties occur.
  • The top center paragraph is READ OVER THE RADIO on the tactical channel anytime a MAYDAY occurs.
  • The next paragraph below is is read over the radio to our Communications.
  • The rest of the sheet gets your thoughts on paper so you can organize the incident and conduct the rescue.
I am sure there are many similar version of this out there.  What does your department have?

Two Rings & A Rubber Hose: Putting a SCBA Mask on a Downed Firefighter

Face mask emergencies are one of the 3 major types of SCBA failures that can occur (do you know the other two??).  If a SCBA mask fails, or a FF who is out of air removes one, you as the RIT may have to put a new face piece on the downed FF if they are unconscious – and the environment you will have to perform this operation in will not be pleasant.  While the techniques may differ slightly for different SCBA manufacturers, the concept is the same.  During our recent “Back to Basics” program at the DCFD’s Training Academy, we have discovered several techniques and some “tricks” to simply the operation. 

Over the past 4 months and few hundred FF’s that have come through the program, a common problem has occurred:  it is tough for a gloved hand to grab small parts of a SCBA mask and make it fit.  We have discovered that the simple addition of a small piece of rubber hose at the bottom of the SCBA mask netting as well as two large rings on the lower face straps allow the mask to be placed eaiser and more securely.

The rescuing FF lines up the chin-cup of the mask with the downed FF’s chin and holds the mask against the victims face to create a temporary seal.  With their other hand, the rescuer grabs the rubber hose (easily ID’d) and pulls it down over the vicitms head to the bottom of their neck.  The two large metal rings are much easier to find than the small kevlar straps, and those are used to tighten the bottom straps (which create most of the seal).

Pressboard “I” Beam’s

This fire occurred in a vacant 3 story attached multiple dwelling.  There were three separate apartments in the building, one per floor.  All three floors were occupied by squatters.  First arriving companies found heavy fire on the first floor in the front room of a three story newly constructed Multiple Dwelling.  

Apparently the owners walked away from the units, leaving nothing behind.  Squatters broke in and brought mattresses and some comforts of home.  Companies stated that, in the fire apartment, there was no other furniture in the apartment other than 1 mattress and 1 couch.

Note the heavy damage from the small to moderate fire load in this apartment.  Note also the firespread into and throughout the second floor supports (thru the sheet-rock ceiling in areas where electrical lighting fixtures and ceiling fans were).  In many areas the pressboard web in the support has burned completely through.  Thankfully, there were no occupants or heavy furniture on any floor as the building was vacant as stated above.

A heavier fire load on the first floor, or just regular amounts of household furniture on the second floor could have let to a catastrophic collapse as units were operating.  Be aware!   If these are going into new construction in your area, note it,  and let responding members have this information as a part of “Critical Dispatch Information”.