RIT “tips” for the over weight / out of shape firefighter…. Avoid the funeral!


fireman christopherfountain wordpress comThe Fire Critic and I get a ton of messages looking for advice etc. Rhett has done a great job through Fire Critic and posts many of these questions as “Mutual-Aid Question from a Brother”.

He simply puts the question up on his Fire Critic Face Book Page (link) and the answers are supplied from all across the Country / World. Instead of a one sided view / answer, the Brother (or Sister) who asked, now gets hundreds of replies! It’s been a huge success.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the reach (fans / followers) that The Fire Critic has and I recently received a question that I couldn’t leave unanswered.

Actually his question (or at least his way of thinking) hit me hard enough that I felt I had to share it.

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Face Book MessageI’m not going to call this Brother by name, nor will I mention his Department. I am going to share his question and my thoughts. I do so in an effort to educate this Brother and his Department … not to embarrass either. I hope any and all comments will be constructive as well.

So, he wrote asking me for advice / tips on “removing larger firefighters from a building in a emergency situation”. He went on to explain that he was 6’4″ tall and 330 lbs. He also explained that his Department (and State) has a lot of “bigger” firefighters.

He’s attempting to compile information / ideas for a class he’s trying to put together dealing with RIT (Rapid Intervention Team) and self-rescue techniques for “larger” firefighters. The actual message / request from this Brother is in the picture above, left. Obviously, it drew my concern.

RIT-Drill-Rock-drag-by-SCBA-straps-300x225I feel as if I have a lot to offer on the subject of RIT (also referred to as RIC).

Not only because of my years of experience on the job (as a Firefighter, Company Officer and Instructor) but also due to my size.

You see, when you’re 5’9″ 132lbs, technique and leverage is KEY!

I HAVE to learn little “tips” and “techniques” to help me. I HAVE to know how to use leverage to my advantage. The odds are that in many of the rescues I may encounter (firefighter or civilian), the victim(s) will be larger and heavier then me. I can’t just leave them or sit and wait for help to arrive.

RIT-Drill-ROCK-harness-using-webbing-300x225The tips and techniques are easy. We should all know them already!

Read “Tricks of the Trade…RIT tips”

The truth is that there is also a LOT more to pulling off a rescue than just the “tips and techniques”.

I always say “You can’t teach HEART” and I honestly think / believe that “HEART” plays just as big a role (if not bigger)  in these situations as anything else!

I mention “Heart” thinking in two directions. The “HEART” meaning that “drive” and determination to never give up… to never quit. The same “heart”, drive and determination it takes to keep yourself prepared and in shape to perform the duties you’re expected to perform.

In this instance, I also think of “heart” as being that cardiac muscle inside your chest. Hopefully, it’s a HEALTHY heart.

downloadThat’s what shocked me most about the question this Brother asked and his direction in thinking. Why didn’t he think to ask about getting himself or his fellow firefighters in better shape to perform these rescues.

Is it easier to just try to learn new, or modify existing techniques while avoiding “the elephant in the room” (no pun intended)?

Would I be doing this Brother, his Department and surrounding members an injustice by sharing RIT techniques rather than saying that maybe they need to look more toward  fitness, health and wellness type classes? I think I may.

You can know every technique and tip in the book but when you’re over weight and out of shape, you’re more likely to become another victim rather than the member who performed a successful rescue. In a RIT scenario, these over weight, out of shape members are also most likely the ones we’ll be activated to save in the first place. I don’t care how good of a Jake you are …. YOU CAN’T OVERCOME PHYSICS.

I think the member who asked the question already realizes this … otherwise, he wouldn’t be seeking the advice he is (he’s planning / preparing for these “bigger” firefighters to go down). Why are these members inside anyway? Why are they even on the Department? Is their potential heart attack, stroke or death worth the benefit of having them as members? THINK ABOUT THAT.  Take a minute to read the studies in the links below…

Study: Obesity Rate for Firefighters Higher Than Public


Tailboard-Talk-Pride-In-AppearanceWe are used to doing risk / benefit analysis on the fire scene, why are we not doing the same for our members?

Why is he worried about these members on the fire scene and not back at the station or “after the call”?

In 2014 (to date of this publishing), 42.4% of LODDs (Line Of Duty Deaths) have been “Non-Incident Related”!

34.4% have been “After Duty”!!!

The numbers are actually quite staggering. A good friend and Brother Firefighter, Bill Carey takes a hard look at the numbers for 2014 in the link below …. it’s worth a read!

Read “March 2014 On-Duty Deaths in Detail”

Also read

The Importance of Physical Fitness Standards in the Fire Service

IMG954678-250x250So again I’ll say, this Brothers problem is not the lack of RIT training, it’s the lack of a Health and Wellness Program.

It takes a lot of “Heart” and dedication but it’s really not that difficult. It’s also affordable even to the smallest of Departments. It’s actually invaluable when compared to the life of a Brother or Sister Firefighter!

It’s about changing bad habits into healthier ones. It’s about working out and eating right.

You don’t need a bunch of fancy equipment or weights and you go to the grocery store (eat) on a regular basis anyway… right?

I’ve seen the results first hand as Rhett (The Fire Critic) recently made the decision to live healthier and get himself into better shape. He wrote about it in the link below …

Read “Now Trending – Fit Firefighters… Are you on Board?”

2012-07-11_21-04-32_823-240x1741I didn’t think Rhett was out of shape. He had a little “bubble butt” but I also certainly didn’t think he was over weight either.

It doesn’t matter what I thought … he felt as if he was.

I will tell you this…. he looks and feels better today than he ever has. He’ll tell you that himself (although Dave Statter may disagree …LOL).

He’s also inspired others. Others not only in his company or Department but other firefighters from all across the Country as well!

fire-service-warrior-240x2331Here are some links to help you get started ….

So respectfully (and HONESTLY), that’s my advise to the Brother asking the question as well as to all of my Brother and Sister Firefighters out there who are over weight and out of shape…. AVOID THE FUNERAL!

Read the articles and use the links I’ve provided to perform a “Self Rescue” and live a longer, healthier life!

Do you like the article you just read? Will you be at FDIC this year? If so, then stop by the Demers Ambulance Booth # 4731 where you can meet me and The Fire Critic to discuss this or any other article we’ve published!


Stay SAFE and in House! See ya in Indy.

Captain Wines

  • Gillian Cox

    Printing…Posting…. and continuing to make this point in my firehouse. Thanks Capt.

  • Sonny O’Connor

    Have Rhett give you my number this quite literally is my story/ up my alley sonny O’Connor

  • audieho

    How to remove larger firefighters from a building in a emergency situation? My department uses a carabiner and a winch. J/K. I’m actually one of the larger guys on my department. Just six weeks ago, I started working out; mostly treadmill and occasionally weights to break the routine. Mostly I did it out of not wanting to be the guy who makes a 30 minute tank last 15 minutes any longer.

  • Will Manuel

    I’ve been taking the journey of “Self Rescue” since last June. I’m still one of the bigger FF on my dept, but I feel and look so much better. I still have about 60 more pounds to go weight-wise, but I’m almost there. It’s great to read these articles to keep motivation up. I do not want to be the reason my brothers end up injured or killed because of the difficulties rescuing me, and I do not want to become an LODD because of being out of shape. Our health and well-being is personal responsibility, not just for our own sake, but the life and safety of our brothers and sisters.
    Thank you for this article, it’s something that many of us over weight FF’s need to get the ball rolling on fitness, and to keep the motivation.
    Stay safe!

  • fdnynoz

    jolly volly’s tend to be some of the fattest people i come across in my normal life. this is pathetic. you average one call a day, and probably 4/5 sodas. get your shit together if you wanna call yourself a brother of mine.

  • Old timer Fireman

    While I fully agree with the article and the many of the points afterwards, I believe that there may even be a larger issue and that surrounds the issue of firefighter smokers who are obese. We go through extraordinary measures sometimes with airpacks and properly fitted gear to keep ourselves from inhaling carcinogenic fumes and smoke only to light up a Marlboro right after – and the pack or two a day we see our brother smoke as we casually say nothing about the matter. We see the damage COPD and other lung diseases do (especially those of our brothers and sisters active in the EMS field) Yet we do little to discuss it -let alone write an article about it. Ive seen it firsthand – from the Chief officer to guy on the knob and its scary.

  • Mickey

    Great article, in my department it’s quite the opposite. The guy’s who exercise regularly and eat healthy are the guy’s our chief’s have singled out as “problematic” firefighters because of their fitness. The guy’s who sit around and don’t do anything are the one’s in our department who according to our management are exceptional fire fighters. Would be nice to work in a department that value’s fitness and the link between fitness and job performance. Not to mention public perception and confidence.

    • Dave

      Ditto here in my city.

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  • Firefighters “of size”. That’s what the airline industry calls fat passengers. “Of size.”