Published: 6/12/2023 12:42:38 PM

For the second consecutive year, volunteer and call firefighters from multiple hilltown fire departments have completed a Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) training course taught in multiple locations throughout the hilltowns, department chiefs report.

This year, 12 firefighters and fire officers from Chesterfield, Goshen, Plainfield, Savoy and Williamsburg fire departments completed the seven-week course. The course was again taught by Capt. Alex Kassell of the Chesterfield/Williamsburg Fire Departments. He was assisted by members of the Colrain Fire Department as well as firefighters who completed the initial 2022 course last year.

The course follows the program designed at the Massachusetts Fire Academy. It is physically demanding with many critical skills that must be learned under strenuous conditions. Interior search and rescue, thorough SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus) use and knowledge, “self” rescue, understanding interior fire conditions as well as the use of specialized RIT kit tools must be learned during the program.

These 12 firefighters now join the nine who completed the 2022 course, giving the Hampshire County hilltowns a strong base of skilled first responders that was not available only two years ago. Mutual aid — fire departments working with each other — will now see the benefits of the RIT course firsthand.

— James Pentland  

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