Expansion of the Incident Command System in a "Mayday" Situation

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By Shane Ray

Rapid Intervention Teams are the focus of many fire department training sessions. Current training programs do not provide the specific information to the incident commander on the expansion of the incident command system. When the "Mayday" call is broadcast on the fireground, the incident commander is not properly trained for the expansion of the incident command system. There are many examples of how we have succeeded and failed in handling these situations.

The problem this research project addressed was the fact that the current training programs and publications on the deployment of rapid intervention teams do not address the training needs of the incident commander. The purpose of this research was to assess the command structure and utilize hands-on RIT training to create a training guideline that was appropriate for a mayday situation on the fireground. A literature review and hands-on training sessions were the primary procedures utilized in the study that used evaluative and action research to answer the following questions:

  1. What recommendations are made by NIOSH reports of firefighter fatalities during structural fire operations concerning the function of ICS?
  2. How are RIT's deployed and managed under the current training programs and existing systems?
  3. What is the average number of firefighters used to rescue a downed or trapped firefighter?
  4. What is the most effective way to expand the ICS to manage multiple RIT's deployed?

The results of the information gathered created a training guideline. It recommended that RIT training focus on the incident commander and continue to document on RIT deployment. Those who are the incident commander, or who may be in the future, must actively participate in the training.