Saving Our Own

In this section of the web site I will be posting information pertaining to training, operating, and general knowledge needed to successfully deploy a Rapid Intervention Crew.

The Rapid Intervention Crew (RIC)

Rapid Intervention has been given different names but they all operate very similar during deployment:

IRICInitial Rapid Intervention Crew(2 in 2 out rule)
RICRapid Intervention Crew(Term used by the NFPA and NIMS)
RITRapid Intervention Team
FASTFirefighter Assist and Search (or Safety) Team(Started by the FDNY)
IRTImmediate Response Team
RATRescue Assist Team
FRATFirefighter Rescue Available Team
RDURapid Deployment Unit
RICORapid intervention company operations
RRTRapid Response Team
GO Team
FATFirefighter Assist Team(not widely used)

The primary purpose and duty for one or more RIC's being deployed on the fire ground should be to provide a dedicated and specialized team of fire fighters (a minimum of at least 4 per crew) ready to rescue fire fighters who become lost, trapped, injured, disoriented, have a medical problem, or any other reason for immediate rescue or other assistance.

The RIC must be adequately staffed, well trained, properly equipped, and under the direction of a competent leader.
The list below contains information pertaining to the successful deployment of the RIC

NFPA 1407:  Standard for Training Fire Service Rapid Intervention Crews

NFPA 1404:  Standard for Fire Service Respiratory Protection Training

NFPA 1500:  Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program

NFPA 1521:  Standard for Fire Department Safety Officer

NFPA 1561  Standard on Emergency Services Incident Management System

NFPA 1710:  Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operations, and Special Operations to the Public by Career Fire Departments

NFPA 1720:  Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operations, and Special Operations to the Public by Volunteer Fire Departments

OSHA Standard 29CFR1910, Occupational Safety and Health Standards, Subpart: I, Subpart Title: Personal Protective Equipment.

OSHA Standard 29CFR1910, Occupational Safety and Health Standards, Subpart: L, Subpart Title: Fire Protection.

SOP's, SOG's, General Orders (GOs) and Best Practice for your specific department

Here is a  PowerPoint Presentation  that will review the MAYDAY call that sets the RIC in motion.
RIC training is now covered by the NFPA 1407 standard which explains how we should train and what procedures we need to be proficient in, to be deployed as a member of the RIC.
Here is a  Word Document  that you can customize for your department, and lay out a successful RIC training program.

Special Report:  Rapid Intervention Teams and How to Avoid Needing Them (March 2003)

This Special Report from the U. S. Fire Administration represents ideas, insights, and information from numerous fire service representatives about firefighter rescue.
Eighty-three departments contributed information on how they approach rescuing a downed firefighter.  Many of these departments sent detailed policies and procedures regarding their operations, enclosing some examples of when a Rapid Intervention Team was mobilized.
Read or download the report

Rules of Engagement for Structure Firefighting

The Rules of Engagement Project was developed to increase firefighter survival and hopefully not have to deploy the Rapid Intervention Crew.
This document, "Rules of Engagement for Structure Firefighting" was developed by the Safety, Health and Survival Section of the International Association of Fire Chiefs.
Read or download the report

“Surviving the Fireground.”

A training aid released for the 2011 Safety Week from FDNY & IAFC.  It will cover: Preventing The MAYDAY / Being Ready For The MAYDAY / Self-Survival / Firefighter Expectations Of Command
Read or download the report

Every department needs to address the fact that in today's world the use of Standard Operating Guidelines (SOG) or Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) are required.  These documents not only protect us legally but they also make our training consistent among our members.

When the RIC deploys at the scene everyone should understand what is expected of them.

Here is a  Word Document  that you can customize for your department, it can be used as an SOP, SOG, General Orders (GO's), Best Practice or a training guide.

Preventing Deaths and Injuries of Fire Fighters When Fighting Fires in Unoccupied Structures

This report has good information to help firefighters as much as possible remain safe when involved in an incident occurring in an unoccupied structure.  A great deal of this information can also be used when dealing with occupied structure fires.  If we follow most basic firefighting related information, training, safety polices and procedures one would hope to see a decrease in the deployment of the RIC and a decline in firefighter deaths.

Also review the four case reports describing incidents involving firefighter injuries and deaths that occurred during offensive attacks at structure fires in buildings known to be vacant or unoccupied.

Too many times firefighter injuries and death occur in vacant or unoccupied structures that were avoidable if we applied a different mindset we are all familiar with.:

  • We will risk our lives a LOT, in a calculated manner, to save SAVABLE LIVES.
  • We will risk our lives a LITTLE, in a calculated manner, to save SAVABLE property.
  • We WILL NOT risk our lives at all for a building or lives that are already lost.

We really need to start listening to what we are saying.

Read or download the report


Risk management shall be utilized by the RIC, IC and the ISO when formulating the RIC Incident Action Plan. The objective is to rescue and/or assist to safety any firefighter or firefighters that are in need of assistance, provided said assistance can be rendered to those presumed not to have passed on.


On arrival, the RIC officer should report to the IC.  The IC, in conjunction with the ISO and the RIC officer will develop a RIC incident action plan.  The RIC incident action plan must be flexible and continually assessed.

Realize that, as hard as it may be, the incident action plan may be to do nothing,
depending on the severity of the event.

The IC should appoint a command officer to oversee the RIC operations and the ISO should appoint a Safety Officer specifically for RIC operations.


The accountability of the RIC members must be maintained.

This means that we all work as a team.  Remember, we enter as a team and we exit as a team.

As the RIC officer performs the 360deg. size-up, one of the members should be given the job of monitoring the working incident frequency, noting where firefighters are actually being deployed and listening for a MAYDAY call.
The remaining RIC members should gather tools and place them on a tarp.
Each incident will influence your selection of equipment.  The list below provides some suggestions:
  • RIT Tarp for tool placement
  • Salvage tarp (possible use for a blanket carry)
  • RIT Rope Rescue bag (Through the floor/window & ladder scenario)
  • Search Rope 200-ft. Team Search, Kevlar rope with tag lines and carabineers
  • Complete SCBA with mask
  • Extra SCBA mask
  • SCBA spare bottles 2
  • TIC
  • Hand Lights
  • Halligan bar
  • Irons (Flat-Head Axe/Halligan)
  • Pick head axe
  • Sledge hammer
  • Pry bar
  • Short pike poles or closet hook
  • Defibrillator
  • Cribbing Kit
  • Lighting
  • Cord Reel
  • Water Extinguisher
  • Dry Chemical Extinguisher
  • Stokes basket
  • Backboard
  • Hand saws
  • Sawsall
  • K-12
  • Chain Saw (wood cutting blade)
  • Attic Ladder
  • Sump Pump (cellar rescue)
  • Hand Line
  • Extrication equipment
  • Cutting Torch
All members should be discussing and taking mental notes of the building's egress points, windows, type of construction and floor layout.  Knowledge of where one can enter and exit the building may save you valuable time getting to the downed fire fighter and performing a successful removal.
As the incident progresses the RIC should assign one of the members to complete a 360deg. size-up at 10 minute intervals.  This will keep the entire team informed of any changes on the fire ground or with the structure itself.
The first RIC to be deployed should enter with a limited amount of tools.  Their immediate objective should be to locate, evaluate, and stabilize the downed firefighter.  Secondary teams can be used to shuttle tools as the incident unfolds.
When the first RIC deploys for an incident, the IC or ISO should make sure there is a second RIC in place, always keeping a fresh RIC ready to deploy.
If you are involved with a large incident that has multiple entrances and exits the IC or ISO should have multiple RIC's stage at various locations around the incident.

The RIC will be assigned the radio designation "RIC 1". When multiple RIC's are assigned, designators will be RIC 2, RIC 3, etc.

The Fire Dispatcher shall activate an "emergency traffic tone" whenever a RIC is deployed on a rescue assignment unless already transmitted with the Mayday.

The Fire Dispatcher shall request all firefighting operations to switch to an alternate channel and continue firefighting operations.

Please keep all your radio communications as short as possible.  Remember someone my need to transmit a MAYDAY.


After the IC and the ISO have thoroughly evaluated the situation and have determined that the operation no longer presents hazardous risks to personnel necessitating the need for a RIC, the ISO may suspend the operations of the RIC.  The ISO shall have the Fire Dispatcher advise over the radio that the RIC is being terminated, so that all personnel on the fire ground are aware of this.

Also remember that in some instances it would be advisable to keep the RIC in place even while overhaul is taking place.

Remember what can go wrong will go wrong and Murphy's law should always be RESPECTED.

Rapid Intervention is never rapid.

Both the Phoenix and Seattle Fire Departments have carried out extensive studies on rescuing a downed firefighter and have concluded that it will most likely take 11 or 12 firefighters approximately 7 minutes to reach a downed firefighter and an additional 18 to 21 minutes to perform an extrication of a trapped firefighter.

It will take a dozen (12) firefighters on the scene, organized into teams, to rapidly complete a firefighter rescue.  All fire departments should have procedures in place to ensure this staffing level is on scene and available during working incidents.  If more than one firefighter is lost in the building, additional resources must be immediately available.  Rapid intervention teams must be closely coordinated and well-organized to be effective and safe.

Rapid intervention search and rescue is a high risk operation.  As noted in the Phoenix research, 20% of the rescuers got themselves in trouble and became potential victims.

The times obtained in these studies were not under heat and smoke conditions as may be experienced in a real incident.

Training is an essential component and extremely important for any firefighter that wishes to become a successful member of a Rapid Intervention Crew.

Rapid Intervention is never rapid.  Multiple RIC's will most likely need to be deployed to rescue a downed firefighter.

Here is a  PowerPoint Presentation  "Moving The Downed Firefighter" that will help you train.

Here is another document  Understanding Rapid Intervention  Chapter 1 that I came across posted on the Internet.  Very good information for training and understanding the operations of the Rapid Intervention Crew.

A Training Manual from the FDNY  IRIC AND RIC OPERATIONS  will cover most aspects needed by the RIC.

A parting thought:

All departments train some of their members to be interior firefighters, entering the IDLH atmosphere to perform their duties.  Departments also keep training records and names of their firefighters who are interior qualified.  They even mark firefighters helmet's so everyone on the fire ground can differentiate who is and who is not interior qualified.

Have we given any thought to using the same process to qualify firefighters to be RIC qualified?  This is an extremely complex task we are asking our firefighters to accomplish.  Does your training as a RIC member really qualify you to take on this extremely difficult task?

As additional training presentation's become available to me I will be adding them to this section of the website.

Always Expect the Unexpected!!!
Be safe in all your firefighting duties.

This is a PowerPoint presentation that will allow you to present this "Saving Your Own" program from your computer.

Download all files below to your computer and put them in the same directory

Go to the directory you saved the files to and click on the file TheRapidInterventionCrew.pps

If you have any difficulty please send me an email and I well help you out.

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