Captain Harris' comments continued from part one...
- The first RIT officer to enter should keep in mind that you probably will not be the team to remove the victim. Your crew will clear a path through the debris and locate the firefighter. Short of following a hose line or trying to follow a wall, you have no clue as to where you are going. Pay close attention to your route so you don't become a victim. Use the Thermal Imager but don't make it your only means of keeping up with your surroundings. Our Thermal Imager completely "whited out" due to the flames and heat therefore it too was useless. It is a tool like everything else we have. There is no better tool to have than clear thoughts.
- You must maintain constant communication with the Division Chief or IC. Request a channel to communicate with a designated person while you conduct the search and know who that person is. There are far too many things happening on the fire ground to attempt a rescue operation while remaining on the primary TAC channel. Rescue communications must not be interrupted by anyone for any reason. At the McDonald's fire, the dispatchers did an outstanding job. They insured that all radio traffic ceased and made certain that the words I spoke were getting back to the IC.
- Leave a trail. Take extra hand lights, strobes or whatever so you can find your way out of the building and/or others can find there way to you or the victim.I believe we should have at least 1 RIT on small fires such as a house; 2 RIT's for apartments and other comparable structures and 3 or more for large scale incidents working in an offensive mode. I also believe ladder truck crews should be the IRIT due to the fact that ladder trucks carry a much larger array of tools and rescue equipment. Also, when activated, remind the IC to make another RIT ready to go. Trust me, by the time you locate the missing firefighters,you will be out of air and running on adrenaline. There were at least 6 firefighting crews involved in locating and removing Lewis Mayo from the McDonald's restaurant and, it took every one of us every ounce of energy we could muster to complete the task.Take this job seriously. No one likes to be given this assignment but it has the potential to be the most important job on the fire ground.