Breakdown of FDIC 2010 H.O.T. Classes: RIT Combat Drills

The second day of HOT classes at FDIC 2010 was RIT Combat Drills with Assistant Chief of Pittsburgh, Jim Crawford and his crew. This day was an eight hour day and it was challenging to say the least.

There were two houses set up for scenarios and evolutions to simulate downed firefighters and the techniques to rescue them. There were four stations at each house: lowering, deployment, lifting and the Pittsburgh Drill.

The deployment was designed to deploy a rescue team with air, rope and some hand tools to find the downed firefighter and to stabilize the situation and to determine what resources will be needed. In addition, this drill required us to remove the downed firefighter as fast as possible after getting him air and with just the tools we brought in.

The lowering drill required the team to raise a ladder to a second story window and send in a rescue team. While the rescue team was searching the room, the ladder was moved to the roof level to set up a lowering system to lower the firefighter from. The interior crew had to secure the downed firefighter with straps/webbing and get him out the window while the crew on the ground lowered him down.

The Pittsburgh Drill was by far the most challenging drill of the day. This video shows the basic concept, but we were more confined in a smaller area and the downed firefighter dummy had an air tank on that had to be manipulated during the removal. The rescue team had to low profile at least twice and in some instances, four times during this drill while having our masked blacked out.

The lifting drill had a downed firefighter trapped under debris. The RIT crew had to make entry, figure out the best way to extricate the firefighter and what equipment would be needed. In most cases, this was performed with airbags and with cribbing. The most difficult aspects of this drill were coordinating the airbag lifts and communicating without visibility.

The final drill was a scenario where all the drills we went through would be applicable for a final rescue of three Maydays. It was a team building exercise and multiple teams were needed to rescue one victim. Air management is paramount and the teams must understand when to call in the next team without running out of air.

I would highly recommend this class to anyone wanting a real challenge. The instructors were supportive and provided a great deal of experience and knowledge to back up the drills.

Thanks to Frank Lipski at Firefighting101 for the lowering video.

Train hard and be careful.

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Jason Hoevelmann

Deputy Chief/Fire Marshal with the Sullivan Fire Protection District, a combination department, and a career firefighter/paramedic with the Florissant Valley Fire Protection District in North St. Louis County.

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Chris Sterricker
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Great read Jason. I liken this issue to the recent unfortunate events in Kentucky in which a firefighter was killed and another, his mother, seriously injured when struck at the scene of a car fire. The response to the tragedy was for the fire department to immediately institute a complete shut-down policy of any incident…
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Well written Jason; nice job. Bill Carey
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