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efdcapt115

How well is F.A.S.T. working in Westchester F.D.s?

46 posts in this topic

It would be interesting to hear different points of view from up and down county as to how well or how far fire departments have come in the past couple of years regarding the all critical fireground component of implementing a FAST or RIT during IDLH operations. Would members please share with the board their department's procedures (doesn't have to be name specific, particularly if there are still incidents occurring where in YOUR opinion FAST/RIT is not meshing integrally, or as efficiently as you think it should be into your initial fire attack).

Of course, if your department has become particularly adept at implementing FAST and this is something you take pride in; please share accomplishments with us here on the board. I'd love to read about the training, dept. policies, furtherance of mutual-aid understandings between yours and your neighboring departments cooperation, things of this nature. All things FAST!

When I left the job in 2006, there were many gaping holes yet to be filled in accomplishing FAST for many smaller departments. The first AFG I successfully authored in 2002 was RIT equipment/training specific. This topic, and being proactive about it remains near and dear to my heart.

So please, let's hear it; the good, the bad, the ugly. There's always room for improvement, and the day will come in Westchester or the upper counties, where a good, prepared, well thought out FAST approach IS going to save the life of a Brother.

The time you take here to post your thoughtful responses could very well make a difference for, or give a great idea/s to another member reading it. Ready? Set? Go!

Edit: It would be nice to hear from dispatchers as well.

Edited by efdcapt115
BFD1054, helicopper and wraftery like this

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I think the concept is being lost on some departments that create special teams for FAST when it should be the function of aany/every FF instead of "special teams" that aren't always available.

In a large career department every FF can be FAST. In smaller departments and most volunteer agencies it's treated like something special and not everyone gets the training.

Good topic, Cap, and Dinosaur's addition was exactly what I was getting ready to say. I, too have been away from Westchester for a while, but from reading other threads, it seems that not much progress has been made. FAST is still slow.

Everybody seems to understand 2 in 2 out. And everybody seems to understand the concept of a dedicated FAST company for larger incidents. There is still, for some departments, a "foggy" time between the initial 2 in 2 out and the arrival of that "qualified" FAST team that may be 20 minutes away.

I would like to know what departments have in place in that foggy time. Also, do you have a written FAST policy?

efdcapt115 likes this

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I think the concept is being lost on some departments that create special teams for FAST when it should be the function of aany/every FF instead of "special teams" that aren't always available.

In a large career department every FF can be FAST. In smaller departments and most volunteer agencies it's treated like something special and not everyone gets the training.

Right on the money

Edited by 99subi

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For example. If ABCtown gets toned for a working fire why dont they have their own FAST within their dept to roll on the first alarm? Why do they have to tone for another dept miles away that could take 20+ mins to arrive? To me this is how it should go. Tones drop. working fire. You send your first alarm assignment which should include a FAST through your dept. If you arrive on scene and need to put your fast "to work" call for another depts FAST to cover yours or go M/A for the "work". This way you always have a FAST on scene ready if god forbid they are needed.

Edited by 99subi
Dinosaur likes this

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It all comes down to the NYS training requirements which are an absolute joke. Include FF 2, survival and FAST as the basic FF course. If the training is too much, go join the Elks lodge.

My department encourages everyone who is an interior firefighter to train with the FASTeam and eventually join. However, you cannot put non-FAST trained members on a FAST assignment though, which is why it comes down to a special team in volunteer departments in NYS. Unless you require every interior member to be certified with survival and FAST, then it is going to have to be a special team.

I believe, and maybe one of our Academy Instructors can say for certain, that it is a required skill for the Career Academy. Why is it a bad concept to make it a requirement for Volunteer Departments? Everyone who is able to put on an airpack, should be trained to get themselves, as well as their Brother Firefighter out of a jam. Trouble doesn't wait until the FAST team is on the scene, at Career OR Volunteer fires. Why the double standard?

Dinosaur likes this

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I believe, and maybe one of our Academy Instructors can say for certain, that it is a required skill for the Career Academy. Why is it a bad concept to make it a requirement for Volunteer Departments? Everyone who is able to put on an airpack, should be trained to get themselves, as well as their Brother Firefighter out of a jam. Trouble doesn't wait until the FAST team is on the scene, at Career OR Volunteer fires. Why the double standard?

Amen.

Survival still isn't an actual part of the FF I curriculum, luckily most (if not all now) FF I courses offered in Westchester also have a Survival course attached to them.

The Firefighter I program should include Survival and FAST. Anyone that thinks they shouldn't take FAST training of some type deserves to be punched in the nuts. They obviously don't care about their brothers.

JM15 and chris like this

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Our department SOG requires the Incident Commander to dispatch a Mutual Aid FAST to all working structure fires. It also states that the IC shall designate at least two members to act as a "FAST" until such time the Mutual Aid unit arrives. We've established a "FAST" at several hazardous materials incidents, including CO emergencies, over the years to keep a crew dedicated to helping our own within an IDLH.

Our team began formation in 1997 and went into service June 1, 1998. We currently have several of those original members as well as multiple new ones on our team.

Team members are all required to have completed the FFI, Survival and FAST courses at minimum. They must have a few years of experience as an Interior Firefighter. The team has one drill every month, ranging from knots/rope rigging to search to firefighter removals to team-building drills in live fire situations. Many of our drills incorporate many of these things to keep our skills sharp.

We have "members in training" that work with us at drills and will respond to an incident to observe and assist where they can. Once they complete all of the training and make enough drills to show their abilities, our team's leaders will add them on as actual team members.

We've revamped our SOGs probably 6 times over the years based on NIOSH reports, training standards and lessons learned at calls and drills.

Our minimal response is one qualified team leader ("Officer") and three qualified members. 9.5 out of 10 times we have no less than six members. As far as response time - if a department near us that wants to use us for FAST coverage has a possible fire - please consider starting us out sooner. Most of us are listening to the radio a majority of the day, and when someone around us sounds like they're going to work, we start texting/calling one another and unofficially start to assemble.

If we can't meet our own minimum response manpower and/or can't get on the road in a proper amount of time, we will notify 60 Control to advise the IC, and go from there.

Chief, I'd like to completely ditto this post. verbatim. We work exactly the same way, only with a designated time we allow for us to get on the road with the minimum manpower.

Calling FAST early has reduced their response times to our district, and I strongly urge other departments to implement policies like this as well. It is probably one of the most proactive, and smart moves we've made in a long time.

fireboyny likes this

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It is probably one of the most proactive, and smart moves we've made in a long time.

That and painting the rigs RED.... :lol:

BFD1054, JohnnyOV and Spartan052 like this

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What do you guys constitute as an "experienced interior firefighter"? The reason I ask is because I personally know of a few people in a department, that have been interior for less than 3 years, have not actually been inside a working fire, but have all the required training, and are on the FASTeam. Would you trust them?

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What do you guys constitute as an "experienced interior firefighter"? The reason I ask is because I personally know of a few people in a department, that have been interior for less than 3 years, have not actually been inside a working fire, but have all the required training, and are on the FASTeam. Would you trust them?

Good question. You can make it five years, but what happens if in that five years, they don't catch a single job? This is what's caused us to push their training and incorporate as much live fire training as possible.

I know guys that have been around for 10 years that haven't seen a flame (except their cigarette lighters) since their first year.

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The one thing that I don't think is a great idea is when a department calls for a fast for a working fire and then puts them to work. I think thatafter a fast is on the scene and is established, they should remain as the fast. If you need more manpower, then go m/a for manpower and not another fast. There is no sence in putting them to work after they are there and then waiting for another fast to show up. Kinda defeaats the purpose.

Good point- I lately wonder how many fast teams are needed to put out a fire? Not to be sarcastic but i have been around and always listen to whats going on. Putting a fast team to work IMO can cause a delay if a team is to be deployed. The 1st arriiving team should be as stated in training have a plan in the event of a mishap with interior members. That original team most likely did a walk around to look for hazards, ways of egress etc. By activating that team the plan in place may not be used because the next team did not have the info passed onto them and alot of info is not handed off. I know its not easy standing around watching but the training that these teams have is vital to the attempt of a rescue of other firefighters.In many cases the fast team may arrive 20 mins later, fireground officers should delegate members to act as a fast team. I have heard that members of the dept where the fire is at should not be members of the fast team, does it really matter? Some depts may stage 2 members as the fast team just to satisfy the law, I have seen this 1st hand and basically that team is a smoke screen and when **** hits the fan and the untrained members don't have a clue as to what to do the dept policy failed. If you have ever read NIOSH reports you will know where this could go. I am sure there is alot more that others can add here.

helicopper likes this

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That and painting the rigs RED.... :lol:

Not one rig has been painted... they've all ripened wink.gif

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I think the concept is being lost on some departments that create special teams for FAST when it should be the function of aany/every FF instead of "special teams" that aren't always available.

In a large career department every FF can be FAST. In smaller departments and most volunteer agencies it's treated like something special and not everyone gets the training.

The reason most Volunteer Depts set up a "special team" is that in Career Depts, you will not get a rig with all probies on it, there will be an officer and guys with years on the job riding with the probie. In a volunteer dept, as has been pointed out on numerous threads, you never know what you are getting. By setting up a standard to be a member of the RIT team, at least you know you will be getting some experienced firefighters. I agree that all members should be trained in RIT.

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What do you guys constitute as an "experienced interior firefighter"? The reason I ask is because I personally know of a few people in a department, that have been interior for less than 3 years, have not actually been inside a working fire, but have all the required training, and are on the FASTeam. Would you trust them?

Is my choice between the guy who has been interior for a year and the FASTeam coming from another town ten or fifteen minutes away IF they can get a full crew on the rig? Because then there really isn't a choice, is there? Fecal matter occurs... sometimes you have to improvise with what you have. I don't care if its a probie or a Chief that drags me out if I'm down, just so long as I get dragged out.

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Good point- I lately wonder how many fast teams are needed to put out a fire? Not to be sarcastic but i have been around and always listen to whats going on. Putting a fast team to work IMO can cause a delay if a team is to be deployed. The 1st arriiving team should be as stated in training have a plan in the event of a mishap with interior members. That original team most likely did a walk around to look for hazards, ways of egress etc. By activating that team the plan in place may not be used because the next team did not have the info passed onto them and alot of info is not handed off. I know its not easy standing around watching but the training that these teams have is vital to the attempt of a rescue of other firefighters.In many cases the fast team may arrive 20 mins later, fireground officers should delegate members to act as a fast team. I have heard that members of the dept where the fire is at should not be members of the fast team, does it really matter? Some depts may stage 2 members as the fast team just to satisfy the law, I have seen this 1st hand and basically that team is a smoke screen and when **** hits the fan and the untrained members don't have a clue as to what to do the dept policy failed. If you have ever read NIOSH reports you will know where this could go. I am sure there is alot more that others can add here.

You hit it right on the head, Hudson 144, with the reasons for not putting FAST to work. Also, by law, FAST has to be continuous. If you put a FAST team to work, there has to be another team ready to take its place immediately. The old team should brief the new team before the change as to the situation, and what Fast measures are in place. This fact alone would mean that putting your FAST to work is a move that is not worth the effort. You would be better off leaving your FAST where it is and putting the second company to work.

There is one time, however, that putting FAST team #1 to work might be a good move. Once the job slows down somewhat and crews are leaving rehab, you can take a fresh crew to relieve FAST #1, once they go thru the briefing I mentioned above. This eases the boredom factor for the FAST #1 guys that had to "watch and plan" from the outside. FAST #1 also gets to see if the actions they took (placing egress ladders, etc) were effective, and would they do it differently. This also produces good input for the post-fire critique. (We DO conduct post-fire critiques, don't we?)

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I perceive some common misconceptions among members of the Fire Service in NY State that should probably be cleared up:

FAST (RIT or MAT) is not a NY State rule, it is an OSHA regulation, hence, Federal law.

You are not allowed to enter a structure on fire beyond the incipient stage without SCBA, training in its operation, and a qualified rescue team in place.

The rescue team must remain in place as long as anyone in SCBA is in the building.

NY State is not responsible for training you. It is the responsibility of your employer, that is, your department. If you are a volunteer, you are considered an employee of your department under this regulation.

firecapt32 and Dinosaur like this

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I perceive some common misconceptions among members of the Fire Service in NY State that should probably be cleared up: FAST (RIT or MAT) is not a NY State rule, it is an OSHA regulation, hence, Federal law.

Thats not completely true. FAST is not in the Federal Law (29CFR1910.134) only the 2in,2out. FAST is an NFPA requirement (1710 & 1720). Federa law requires that all OSHA plan states (which includes NY) must adopted equal or more stringent regulations. Therefore NYS Labor law has taken the federal regulation (word for word) and made it NYS Law.

You are not allowed to enter a structure on fire beyond the incipient stage without SCBA, training in its operation, and a qualified rescue team in place.

Correct. But the qualified rescue team is is not FAST.

The rescue team must remain in place as long as anyone in SCBA is in the building.

Correct, but again the rescue team is not FAST its the 2 out.

NY State is not responsible for training you. It is the responsibility of your employer, that is, your department. If you are a volunteer, you are considered an employee of your department under this regulation.

Correct, this one is ignored by many depts., and its a major problem.

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Sorry, Bnechis. I agree with you. I was trying to keep it uncomplicated and missed a step. I was trying to make the point that FAST can have no gaps. It must be continuous...start to finish.

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FAST is supposed to be appropriately in place as required by the OSHA Standard 1910.134 or the NFPA 1720 (volunteer standard) or NFPA 1710 (career standard applying because the TMFD is combo)?

FAST is not part of any OSHA standard. It is in both 1710 & 1720.

I was trying to make the point that FAST can have no gaps. It must be continuous...start to finish.

Agreed.

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FAST is not part of any OSHA standard. It is in both 1710 & 1720.

Agreed.

I've read the Standard Captain, and know the wording is "Two Out." Correcto.

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A view from south of Westchester.

We assign RIT (our FAST) to one of the initial assigned companies. Often times it is the 3rd due engine or 2nd due truck/special service. Our staffing is inconsistent, so the RIT team could be as few as 2 people, mostly likely 3, and sometimes 4. We have RIT bags on the trucks and squads. They have some rope, extra bottle, mask, and a quick-fill line.

As for training. We have no RIT qualification. If you can ride, you can be on the RIT team. We also don’t have interior/exterior qualifications. You are a FFI, FFII (EMT), FFIII (Pump Operator) FFIV (EMT-I) or FFV (PM).

Interestingly, we just did RIT training for our fall skills development. We reviewed the RIT bag, did some mayday training, and did a RIT evolution in our burn building. The evolution had us rescue a down FF. We had to find him, get him some air, and get him out. The building was dark and smoked up. And, we had to crawl through a small opening, over a knee wall, and down a tunnel to find him. We broke into teams of 4 using an acronym I had never heard TEAR (Team lead, Extrication, Air, and Rope) and we were timed and our air level was noted. It was a great drill.

My takeaways from the drill:

1. 4 people is not enough. We were all hustling to get to the down victim, get him air, and get him packaged to move, and then had to move him. It would have been nice to have had 1 or 2 folks there who were fresh to drag him out.

2. It takes a lot longer than I thought. We did the evolution in about 13 minutes, and while I knew it was slower than we wanted, I did not think it was that slow. As I watched the next group, I thought they were in there longer than we were. Turns out they did it in about 10 mins. Sitting outside waiting made that wait seem really long.

Be safe,

JR

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The reason most Volunteer Depts set up a "special team" is that in Career Depts, you will not get a rig with all probies on it, there will be an officer and guys with years on the job riding with the probie.

Not necessarily true. Many rigs in Career Depts. don't have guys with yrs experience. Some depts. may even have a whole truck co. with everyone on it having 5yrs and less. This has happened and I believe still happens in FDNY. Then you've got the rig with some guys who have 20yrs but still no experience and are incapable of doing the basics correctly. Speaking of Basics, I strongly feel we get too wrapped up in the FAST team concept and policies instead of worrying about our members being competent in the Basic Firefighting Skills. Get a proper sized and supplied handline in the right location, with adequate and properly timed ventilation and good chances we won't even need a Fast Team. I guarantee if you look at many of the NIOSH reports you'll see many LODs were caused by members not following proper procedures, incompetence and complacency.Don't get me wrong I think the FAST team concept is great but there's a time and place for it. Do we really need a Fast team standing by for a mattress Job or contents in a bedroom, not to mention many FDs including Career are shorthanded and I may need those 2-3 guys standing outside, inside performing critical tasks that need to get done immediately and aren't. Don't get these tasks completed and that mattress job in the hallway has now entered the dumbwaiter shaft and is about to take the cockloft of the 5 story H shaped occupied MD. I'd rather utilize everyone at the scene to get that fire u/c instead of worrying about how many guys do I have outside in case the "What if" happens, especially if I'm workin with a skeleton crew. JMO. PS Now lower a Depts Standards and you really have a problem on your hand!

Edited by helicopper
Repaired quote tag
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What is the deal with a department being toned out for a structure fire (possible, reported, etc) and then a M/A FAST being toned out to standby in their own HQ. Wouldn't it make more sense to just have them start heading to the scene? Worst case scenario is that they turn around and go back in service... I noticed this in an recent I/A, the FAST was requested to standby then 2 minutes later was requested to the scene. Seems like an unnecessary 2 minute delay.

efdcapt115 likes this

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It seems like most IA's you read for structure fires show the FAST being put to work. Now I don't have enough specifics but it seems more times than not they are being put to work for normal firefighting duties instead of firefighters in distress. This stems from the fact that they are not sending enough firefighters on the initial assignment to do the standard attack. It seems these fire departments still like to play catch up. If you have a working incident and have no one in reserve to stretch a line for extension or do the next task that comes up you are behind the 8 ball. It is easy to see that at many of these fires the IC is not proactive enough in transmitting additional alarms. If you are the IC you should be less concerned about a 3 year wonder asking why you called so much help or the thread on EMT Bravo about how much mutual aid was called and more concerned with having enough people on scene to operate safely.

Fireman488 and efdcapt115 like this

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Having the fast requested to standby initially is not necessarily a delay because all of you are responding to the firehouse first. This gets your resource ready to go for when you need it.

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