The Edmond Sun

March 19, 2014

Firefighters complete RIT training

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Edmond firefighters are wrapping up work on training they would use if they ever need to rescue one of their own.

Most larger fire departments have a group of dedicated and specially trained firefighters prepared to rescue one of their own from a burning structure. In the U.S., 10 firefighter fatalities occurred from Feb. 28-March 17, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

On Feb. 28, Wallington Fire Department (New Jersey) Senior Fire Capt. Gregory Barnas died of injuries sustained when he suffered a heart attack and fell from the roof of a burning restaurant, according to FEMA. He was working to ventilate the building.

Wednesday morning, members of Edmond Fire Department’s Rapid Intervention Team were going through a multiple downed firefighter scenario at the agency’s training site near the Interstate 35-Covell interchange.

At the Fire Department’s two-story search and rescue building with interior propane props, RIT units were being rotated through the scenario, which involved rescuing two firefighters who had fallen through a hole to a basement and a third on the ground floor, said Edmond Fire Maj. Joe Elam. Including firefighter gear, the dummies used for the victims weighed nearly 200 pounds, Elam said.

In the “basement,” simulated smoke and an absence of lights provided total darkness for the teams, which communicate via radio. Officers used thermal imaging cameras to keep track of firefighters, to find victims and to watch for changing fire conditions, Elam said.

Elam said eventually all members of the Fire Department will have finished the RIT training, which began in November after it was imported by members who completed a train the trainer program in Indiana.

All of the Fire Department’s frontline vehicles now have thermal imagers, which cost about $10,000 each, Elam said.



marks@edmondsun.com | 341-2121, ext. 108