The black box principle and approach for missing firefighters: the current system and procedures for rescuing firefighters who are deemed to be reported missing within a fire or other dangerous non-fire environment vary significantly internationally. The author examines a specific approach and principle in the UK.(Firefighter Safety)

THE UK APPROACH IS TO have a self contained safety team nominated to wait outside and to quickly respond if an emergency occurs. This is commonly referred to as the 'BA Safety Team'. Usually, they will have a resuscitator and other equipment established in a designated holding area where any victim who is rescued by them will immediately be carried to. This is usually near to the entrance to the building--or area that is affected by the emergency.

In the USA, more importance is now being placed on having a similar designated team for rescuing their colleagues and this is generally titled a 'Rapid Intervention Team' or as it is more commonly referred to as the 'RIT Team'. Again, a similar pattern emerges, ie an area is usually commandeered and utilized for the team to set up their recovery essentials, eg resuscitation equipment, trauma pack, RIT packs, etc.

Up until now the general communication link between outside and inside the incident has simply been radio communication. If any team experiences some form of trouble (or an individual member within a team faces personal difficulties), the usual practise is for a radio message to be sent to the accountability officer requesting immediate assistance. This is when the Safety (RIT) Team are rapidly deployed to seek and find their troubled colleagues.

In reality this is generally acceptable except for the occasion where a team (or individual) becomes unable to call for assistance due to them being incapacitated, eg a beam collapse striking them and knocking them unconscious. …

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