“We are spending these two days in intensive training,” said Chris McDonough, chief of South Dundas Fire and Emergency Services. “We are training to learn how to safely remove fire fighters who may have become trapped in smoke, or in actual fires or in collapsed buildings.”
Firefighters from the three South Dundas stations gathered at the Morrisburg fire hall on Saturday, April 13, and again on Sunday, April 14, for special Rapid Intervention Training (RIT). The course was taught by Mark van der Feyst, president of Firestar Services Inc., and his highly qualified, expert staff.
Firestar Services Inc. delivers high quality training for service professionals, offering workshops and classroom instruction and demonstrating practical techniques for dealing with fire, chemical and hazardous matter emergencies.
“Many fire departments have begun to train their personnel in the concepts of rescuing downed, trapped or injured firefighters,” chief McDonough explained. “The concept of rapid intervention teams is not new. It’s been around for 10-15 years in the US, but has only begun to infiltrate the Canadian fire service in the last five years. What was once a trend is now a standard practice with many fire departments implementing some kind of a RIT program.”
Van der Feyst and his instructors stressed that safely rescuing a fire fighter is actually a very different proposition than rescuing a civilian.
“A fire fighter, in full gear, carrying all of his equipment, on the average could weigh close to 300 pounds,” van der Feyst told the South Dundas teams. “This is a very different situation than rescuing a civilian. For example, staircases in older buildings are often wooden and narrow and may turn several times. In blinding smoke and darkness, with air at a premium, special techniques must be learned to bring a fallen or injured firefighter to safety in these circumstances.”
Using the former Loyalist Lodge as an additional training area, fire fighters learned and practiced, hands on, the best ways to stage rescues of injured colleagues in constricted areas and under extreme conditions.
“To be an RIT firefighter requires special training. It requires emphasis on many subjects that need to be looked at from the RIT perspective,” said McDonough.
“Is every fire department able to provide this type of training to each of its members? Probably not all at once, but over time, each department can. How and when is up to each department. This is the kind of training that is needed and beneficial for a firefighter to be proficient at rescuing downed, lost or trapped firefighters.”