In a larger fire department, "R.I.T" might stand for "Rapid Intervention Team," according to Kevin Williamson. In departments with limited resources, it stands for "Rapid Intervention Techniques."
Williamson and five other instructors volunteered their weekend to make sure 20 firefighters from three such small departments know how to "rescue a brother" trapped in a fire.
Crews from the McDuffie County, Martinez and Burke County fire departments gathered for three days at the shared city-county training center off Augusta Highway and at the main fire station on Salem Road.
Williamson works full time for the Burke County department, where he is a captain. He also volunteers part time with the McDuffie County department.
"This is basically a firefighter survival class," he said.
Firefighters need to know how to escape a fire when debris blocks the route by which they entered. They need to know how to leap from a window and grab onto a ladder. They need to know how to use a pressurized water hose as a rope. Should a firefighter become unconscious, other firefighters need to know how to locate and remove that firefighter. The six training stations stressed those skills.
All training was voluntary, Williamson said. The class carries 20 hours of recertification credit.
Williamson was one of three from Burke County who attended a similar class at the Screven County Fire Department. "It was such an eye-opener for me," he said.
He then went to McDuffie County Fire Rescue Service Chief H. Bruce Tanner for permission to present the course in Thomson.