After a recent training evolution where we were activating the RIT team to rescue a fallen firefighter, we discussed the difficulties the teams were having with communication once they had located the fallen firefighter. One of the issues was the fallen firefighter's PASS alarm. I suggested that once the fallen firefighter is found, that the PASS alarm could be turned off in order to improve the communication flow during the rescue of the firefighter. There were mixed opinions on doing this. I searched the forums and wasn't able to find this subject. I also checked training documentation and the only thing I could find was the importance of activating the PASS when problems are encountered, but nothing on when to de-activate it.

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Id say turn it off. Communication between the RIT team members and the downed firefighter would be easier and radio communication between the team and command would be clearer. This is important because when there is a mayday you want to be able to understand everything that is going on so that you can quickly, effectively, and safely complete the rescue of the downed firefighter.

Also once you have the downed firefighter you want the PASS device to be off so that you can hear the rest of the sounds on the fire ground and in the immediate area. Being able to hear whats going on around you is just as important as hearing each other talk. You want to be able to hear how the floor moves, the walls, ceiling and even the fire, keeping you all safer.
I agree with Sparky here, the PASS device is to help in locating a downed FF, once the FF is located, there is no need for the PASS device to remain activated. Communications is essential on a fireground and even moreso when such RIT operations are taking place. The RIT team needs to be able to communicate with IC, etc as to any additional needs, egress route, resources etc. There is no reason to have a PASS device blaring and hindering such operations.
a) What Sparky said.
b) If another may day arises, it would be 'difficult' to distinguish between the first downed FF's PASS and the second one's.
c) I'm curious what the argument was FOR keeping the PASS activated. It's not likely you're going to misplace the fallen firefighter and have to go looking for him again.
d) Do these same people ALSO recommend keeping the Q wailing after the engine is on scene?
You should turn if off for all the reasons stated. If you need to leave that firefighter in place, re-activate the PASS & hopefully you have a search line to attach to them for the next crew to come in. Everyone has the idea of getting one of their own out when they find them. What if it is not possible to move that firefighter? What if they are trapped? What if a broken back/neck is suspected? You need to look at protecting in place if possible. Can you leave a hose line and radio and air with them? It's a tough choice but sometimes it is the only choice. Obviously if they are going to get burned or there is going to be a collapse you need to do everything you can to move them.
Thanks for your replies. Your comments are identical to the arguments I made. I believe that their reasoning behind doing the opposite was that they were taking something they read somewhere too literally. it is well documented that a firefighter in trouble needs to activate the PASS device immediately but nothing on when to de-activate. They seemed to infer that since it was not documented that it should remain on until everyone was safe. In my opinion, often times common sense needs to be applied to situations rather than just following the book.
We were told in FF 1 by our Instructor that PASS device should never be turned off . he never stated why

As the OP alluded to, the same thing has occurred within the dept thus bringing up the question. The thing with FF1 is that it really doesn't get into RIT training, sure you may touch on it and talk about it, but RIT training should be a more intense training than what a FF1 course can provide in the allotted time frame.

The issue with never turning off a PASS device also can stem from the reason to activate it, meaning a FF is in trouble. My bet is the instructor meant if YOU activate your PASS, you don't turn it off. There is a difference though when a RIT is deployed and locates a downed FF. As such communication is essential and there is no reason to keep a PASS activated once help has arrived.
The issue really stems from a lack of understanding of RIT and general critical thinking skills. Once RIT has located the downed FF, communication between RIT and the FF as well as between RIT members and with command can ONLY be hindered by a PASS going off. I'm not sure that any RIT training expressly states that (or how) the downed FF should be removed, it's simply understood that these are functions of the RIT and its leader.
Out of curiosity, what is the reason/reasons your department doesn't do RIT, especially if you are doing 2 in 2 out?
I have never heard of anyone or any department, until this thread, who says to leave the PASS alarm of the downed firefighter sounding.
John - here they do teach basic's of RIT in FF 1

My point was that RIT is not "as" focused on in FF1, it is touched on etc, but the operations really don't dealve into the training as a RIT course would do. A RIT course can take several days and there are many options and ways to remove a FF. A typical FF1 course doesn't really cover all that.
Once the FF is found we turn the Pass off. There is enough going on and communication is key in any emergecy. When we did our training the pass (turning it off) was amoung the first things we did. You need to hear what is going on around you, you need to be able to talk to the rest of your team, you need to be able to hear the SCBA of the downed FF (are they breathing, low air alarm, leaking air, ect.), command needs to be able to hear you give the report. Even when we trained on FF survival turn off the Pass to talk and then turn it back on. If you have to leave the FF turn it back on. Hope this helps
Well of course Jack. We keep our Q's going. Why not? LOL!

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