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Firefighters's special training a success, says organizer

BELLEVILLE, Ont. (18/01/12) - Just finishing off the final day of the new Rapid Intervention Team training, Belleville firefighter Mich Lacombe believes that it was a huge success. Photo by Topher Seguin

By Topher Seguin

Belleville firefighters finished off their new Rapid Intervention Team training at the former Quinte Exhibition grounds Wednesday.

The team is a group of firefighters who are solely dedicated to the search and rescue of other firefighters in distress, which may mean rescuing a down firefighter in a collapsing building.

John Lake, who was in charge of the operation, said that it was about time the department got a firefighter specialized course going, adding that rescuing a firefighter is much different from rescuing civilians, and on average it takes 12 firefighters to rescue a single down firefighter.

“We always had a RIT team, but I finally went to take a course specializing in it and it was a real eye-opener. Not only did we learn more about saving each other’s lives, but we also learned about building construction, which helps when it’s time to make a wall into a doorway,” said Lake.

The National Fire Protection Association defines RIT as “two or more firefighters assigned outside the hazard area at an interior structure fore to assist or rescue at an emergency operation.”

The concept of RITs isn’t something new. Teams have been around for 10 to 15 years in the United States but have only begun to enter the Canadian fire service the last five years.

Making the training as realistic as possible was very important to the team. They filled the whole room with smoke and constructed a maze for the firefighters to find their way through.

“Today was an evolution. We had smoke machines to simulate real smoke you would see at any given fire, and a mock building to train in. We had to first find our way through the maze and then drag our buddy out,” said firefighter Mich Lacombe.

This was the fourth and final team participating in the training.

“Everything went pretty much as expected. We went through a few different scenarios and it all worked out well,” said Lake.