Home Interviews THMG135 – Haz Mat RIT with Mark Sicuso

THMG135 – Haz Mat RIT with Mark Sicuso


In this episode, we talk about hazmat RIT with our friend Mark Sicuso. He provided his perspective on the philosophy behind RIT and gave advice on how we can become more competent about this incredibly important topic.

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Complete Show Notes

2:30 Introduction to Mark Sicuso

  • Lieutenant in the City of Norwich (CT) fire department – works as a hazmat specialist on the ladder team
  • Adjunct instructor at the Massachusetts Fire Academy for the last 15 years and also teaches at the Connecticut Fire Academy
  • Co-owner of All Hands Operating, which provides firefighter education and development training
  • Also holds bachelor’s degrees in arson investigation and fire science administration

4:55 Why Fire Departments Need a Dedicated Hazmat RIT (Rapid Intervention Team)

  • Important to have 3-5 techs who are ready to go when the time comes to perform fast extrications
  • Allows other teams to focus on their specific jobs because they don’t have to worry about scrambling to respond when rapid intervention is required
  • In some areas/departments, it’s hard to get hazmat techs on site quickly – this is problematic and can lead to a lot of issues
  • Techs can be paired with operations-level personnel to maximize manpower for RITs

11:00 PPE Selection for RITs

  • Should be at the same level or one below the initial hazmat response team
  • Keep in mind that we’re probably not performing surgery in the hot zone – we’re getting them out and into treatment ASAP
  • It’s crucial that the RIT team is adequately protected because they play such a crucial response in rescue
  • Selection obviously varies based on the individual run – make adjustments depending on what you’re dealing with and always heed the incident commander

17:00 Equipment for RITs

  • Less is more – Mark recommends the following:
    • 5-gallon bucket (decon or throw away afterwards)
    • Yellow SKED®
    • RIT pack
    • Knives to get through the suit (i.e. diver knives)
    • Tools to repair the suit if necessary
    • Meter cache – protect yourself and who you’re rescuing
    • Chem lights

19:30 Metering for RITs

  • Your entire metering hierarchy should always be available for you to choose from
  • If you’ve got specifics on the situation and what you’re looking for, you can choose your meter accordingly
  • One option is to clamp your meter onto your 5-gallon bucket – keeps it nearby but out of your hands

21:25 Strategies and Tactics for Rapid Intervention

  • Know that 2 in/2 out is required by law – this is the best starting point
  • Read up on SOPs (standard operating procedures), SOGs (standard operating guidelines), and whitepapers to stay informed and up to date
  • No one size fits all strategy, but repurposing is helpful and makes your job easier
  • Our goal should always be to leave our departments better than they were when we found them

24:20 Decon Processes for RITs

  • Get the patient out of their suit immediately and right into emergency decon
  • You can go through regular or emergency decon depending on your condition after rescue
  • If there’s no suit integrity issue, the person you’re rescuing shouldn’t need emergency decon or hospitalization
  • Use meters and pH paper to prove a patient is clean – important if they end up going to the hospital

27:30 Overall Operation After RIT Finishes Up

  • Rest of the hazmat team should continue working on their specific tasks during the RIT’s operation
  • Best case scenario is to finish the operation while the RIT is working – gets everyone out safely
  • Varies based on specific situations, though – be smart and make informed decisions

34:45 Should RIT Standards Be National?

  • It would definitely be helpful to work RIT standards into NFPA 472 (Standard for Competence of Responders to Hazardous Materials/Weapons of Mass Destruction Incidents)
  • However, there are plenty of aspects of RIT that vary on a department to department basis – some departments use their backup team instead of an RIT

35:55 How to Contact Mark

  • Cell phone: (860) 883-4858
  • Email
  • Facebook: Mark Sicuso

Have a question? Send an email to feedback@thehazmatguys.com or leave a message on our Haz Mat Guys comment hotline: 843-628-1484

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