In 2007 as the Training Chief of Martin County Fire Rescue and the Chair of the FFCA Florida Fire Service Instructors, the State Fire Marshal and Federal law was pushing RIC/RIT. As a Department we trained and implemented it. I traveled around the State as the FSFSI Chair teaching it. By 2009 the craze of RIC/RIT was over and most departments and personnel viewed it as something you had to do to be legal with the State and Feds. I believed that “Protecting Your Brothers and Sisters” was still one of the most important things that we should always do, no one else can save us other than us!
As the Chair of the FSFSI my group was responsible for the education content of the three major conferences for the Florida Fire Chiefs (FFCA). I felt and saw the need around the State that some thing had to be done to get people back training and believing in the RIC/RIT concept. I developed a concept of holding a statewide RIT competition at the Fire Rescue East conference and to do it on the show floor. I worked hard trying to convince the FFCA board that it was the right thing to do and in 2011 they agreed to do it as they were moving the conference from Jacksonville to Daytona and the vendor show floor was split and only a handful of vendors were on the smaller side of the convention center. The FFCA Board felt out of sight out of mind scenario but I jumped on it.
I relied on the two instructors from Escambia County Fire Rescue, City of Orlando Fire Department that had been working with me teaching RIT around the State for the FSFSI to come up with a class and content of the competition. I also recruited two firefighters from Brevard Fire Rescue, and my logistics Chief that worked with me at the time. We worked tirelessly to come up with the classroom portion, hands on portion, rules for the competition and the content of the final scenario. I was challenged with building a maze that was portable, strong to withstand the pounding of firefighter training and most importantly so that all spectators can see what was taking place in the competition. Our team of builders and instructors has grown from the original six personnel to 18 retired and active duty firefighters who are dedicated to the FROG mission of training and paying it forward.
In 2012 our first year the Florida RIT Operations Group LLC (FROG) was born. 2012 was a success and we were invited back to do it again. We had 8 teams the first year. We have had as many as 35 teams compete in a given year.
The intention was to appeal to a firefighters instinctive competitive personality and to get them to train on RIT. Which it has grown over our years of holding the competition. The second intended outcome was by making the maze 30 inches tall; the audience can watch and see what each team is doing and have discussion and debate on it and learn from the competitors success and failures.
The competition simulates the skills needed to do just that.
“Train the way you will fight…..or die the way you were trained”