Every department operates differently. Some departments prefer staging the Rapid Intervention Crew (RIC) away from the scene, some prefer it near the Command Post (CP) and others are not sure where a RIC should stage. Over the years, I have been exposed to all three of these situations.
In some departments it is policy to have the RIC at the CP. The logic in this case is to ensure good communication between the Incident Commander (IC) and the RIC Officer. The drawback here is that if the CP is far away from the scene then the RIC is far away from the scene. Staging the RIC at the CP works when the CP is located in front of the fire building.
Other departments place the RIC wherever there is room or wherever it will be “out of the way”. In this case, Rapid Intervention is not a priority of the IC and this decision could be costly, should the RIC be delayed when deployed.
Staging the RIC should be a priority and of a strategic nature. When the IC arrives on scene, he considers where to stage various resources and how to effectively command the scene. Where the RIC is staged should be included during the IC’s size-up. Strategically placing the RIC will increase response capability and allow the RIC to conduct its operations more efficiently. Depending on the size of the building and level of fire involvement, there may be a need to stage the RIC in two or sometimes more locations.
Let’s take a look at how a RIC can be effectively staged to maximize its efficiency. A company responds to a possible structure fire assigned as the RIC. Once on scene the RIC Officer meets with the IC and receives a situation/status report. There are flames visible and an aggressive offensive attack in underway. The RIC Officer decides to split his RIC into crews of four on all four corners of the structure. Attack crews are operating in multiple areas of the structure and the RIC’s positioning allows greater access to the entire structure. This is an appropriate decision based on the circumstances and current operation of interior attack crews.
Staging a RIC is a critical task to ensuring the safety of crews working on the scene. As Company and Chief Officer’s it’s important that we always take this into account when conducting size ups and managing resources. Work on it with your department.