Thick Smoke and Darkness, Fire Departments Work on Rapid Intervention Training

Fire departments across Southeastern Wisconsin trained in mixed groups to rescue simulated fallen firefighters in situations where seconds mean the difference between survival and a memorial service.

Crawling across the floor of an enormous warehouse, a team of six firefighters from different departments follows a hose line toward what they hope is their fallen comrade. Simulating a "mayday" call, these firefighters are practicing Rapid Intervention Training where they attempt to rescue a fallen firefighter. 

“Occasionally, conditions on the scene change and firefighters find themselves in situations where they become the one needing help," North Shore Fire Assistant Chief Andrew Harris said in a press release. "This training helps us learn to recognize the signs that we may be in trouble and call for help early to ensure that we make it home to see our families."

Along with the North Shore Fire Department, Cudahy, Franklin, Greendale, Greenfield, Hales Corners, Oak Creek, St. Francis, South Milwaukee, Wauwatosa and West Allis fire departments participated on Sept. 13 at a warehouse in Brown Deer—all members of the Mutual Aid Box Aalarm System. 

The program is funded with a $175,964 Assistance to Firefighters Grant, which required the departments to provide matching funds of $43,990 which was divided up between the participating 11 departments. That money paid for the training and the purchasing of standardized rescue equipment the release said. 

The North Shore Fire Department conducted their own, individual RIT Gear trainig in March of 2011 where they practiced many of the same scenarios such as working through "The Box" and responding to Mayday calls. 

“The RIT training is about saving our own and being on the same page no matter where we need to respond in the county," Wauwatosa Assistant Chief Scott Erke said in a press release. "Not only are we sharing equipment and personnel, but, we are increasing the confidence in our own personnel operating at the scene. This training provides the confidence that the responding units from other communities ‘have our back.'"


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