Firefighter Assist & Search Team
Raritan Township Fire Company is the Central County FAST (Firefighter Assist and Search Team) It is proud to be one of three established Hunterdon county FAST units. The other two teams are South County FAST (Lambertville Fire Company) and North County FAST (Annandale Hose Company and Lebanon Fire Company). Recently, Quakertown Fire has begun training and responding as an additional unit covering select portions of the northwest county.
Many ask the question: What is a FAST unit and what does it do? The answer to the first part of the question is found in the title. FAST (Firefighter Assist and Search Team) is designed to be a dedicated team called to the scene of a working fire involving a structure (residential or commercial property). It is the mission of the team to rescue downed or otherwise trapped, disabled, or disoriented firefighters. It is not there to support or help supplement normal fireground operations although some of the normal safety procedures such as tossing ladders certainly benefits the operation. When a firefighter becomes trapped, disoriented, or low-on-air, they should call a "MAYDAY" on the radio if possible and activate his/her PASS device. This activates the FAST unit, which is in a constant state of readiness. There units are sometimes called RITs (rapid intervention teams) or RICs (rapid intervention crews) in other parts of the country.
To be a part of the FAST unit all firefighters must go through additional training. While regular firefighters already train over 100 hours in drills per year, FAST members commit many more hours of training and practice many advanced skills and techniques. Some supplemental training includes dedicated FAST/RIT courses (in search and rescue), Rope Rescue, Collapse Rescue, Confined Space, and general advanced fireground training.