Training officer speaks to firefighting crew before combat drillThe MFD Fire Training Division oversees a comprehensive year-round training program that is as versatile in its curriculum and tactics as the field of firefighting demands.

Each year, the division holds multiple exercises known as “combat drills.” A combat drill is a large-scale, realistic exercise that challenges crews to use a variety of skills at once. These drills are performed in real time, with intensity, and are operationally the same as a real emergency.

This month our crews participated in a drill that refreshed their rapid intervention skills. During a typical structure fire response, one crew is assigned the role of “RIT,” also known as Rapid Intervention Team. This team's sole assignment is to be prepared to rescue other firefighters if they become trapped, injured, or disoriented in a deadly fire environment. It is a role each firefighter must be prepared to serve, though everyone hopes it will never be needed.

Firefighter cutting through steel with sparks flyingUsing the vacant property at 734 East Washington Avenue, crews had to formulate a plan of rescue for a firefighter that was low on air after a “partial collapse” in the building. The Rapid Intervention Teams had to climb to the upper floor of the building, navigate through several obstacles, and cut through some of those obstacles with a power saw. Once the trapped firefighter was located, the RIT had to provide air to the firefighter using a special air pack. Then the team had to rescue the firefighter, passing through the same obstacles again in order to get the firefighter to safety.

Each crew in the city participates in combat drills just like this one. This month, 239 firefighters were trained in three days!

Combat drills like these are vital for our department's safety and professional growth. The MFD Fire Training Division wishes to thank Willow Partners, LLC and Palisade Property Management for allowing our crews the opportunity to use this building for true-to-life scenario-based training.

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Firefighters in hazy environment
firefighter cutting through metal with sparks flying
Firefighters stand in open room with smoke in the air


Training Officers Phil Ruscetti and Mark Miller contributed to this blog.

This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison - Fire and a link back to the original post.