Holmdel Township, NJ - On Saturday and Sunday, March 15 & 16, 2014, several northern Monmouth County fire departments to advantage of a soon to be demolished restaurant building to practice their skills and techniques in a realistic setting.  The long-vacant Asahi Japanese restaurant and before that, Romano's Macaroni Grill, in the Holmdel Shopping Center at 2105 Route 35 was made available over the weekend to the Holmdel Fire Company 2.  Under the command of Holmdel Fire Chief John Boyle Sr.  members of the Holmdel Fire Department drilled with other local fire department members at that location.

On Saturday the focus was on Rapid Intervention Crew (RIC) training.  Deployed during Interior structural fires, one of the most dangerous aspects of firefighting, Rapid Intervention Crews are dedicated to “rescuing the rescuers”.   RIC’s are staffed by firefighters that have the tools, training, and operational experience to help downed or trapped interior firefighters quickly and efficiently.  Teams from Holmdel, Keyport, Hazlet, Mattawan, Middletown and Union Beach honed their skills during multiple sessions.  Also participating were the Salvation Army, Middletown Special Services Unit and the Middletown Air Support Unit.

Practicing RIC operations in a commercial structure provides a level of realism that can’t be simulated at the traditional training facilities, such as the Monmouth County or Middletown Township Fire Academies.  For instance, the teams were able to employ their tools to break through some of the walls of the structure.  These “breaching” maneuvers are used in situations where traditional means of egress are not available and rapid access to trapped victims is needed.  The firefighters were able to realistically practice various breaching techniques in a controlled and safe environment.

The focus on Sunday was to exercise local aerial ladder trucks and allow their crews to simulate commercial “roof operations”.   Once again the firefighters were able to practice their skills in an extremely realistic and genuine environment.  Commercial structures are built very differently than the much more common single family homes and present unique challenges and dangers to firefighters.  The roofs of commercial buildings are often large, flat surfaces supported by engineered trusses and usually contain large heavy machinery.  During the drill, different methods were used to cut holes in the roof which during an actual fire would be essential in releasing heat and smoke from the interior of the building.