The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.office
    NEW OFFICES—Fayette village administrator Steve Blue speaks with tax administrator Genna Biddix at the new front desk of the village office. Village council members voted to use budgeted renovation funds targeted for the old office and instead buy the vacant bank building on the corner of Main and Fayette streets. The old office was sold to Sherwood State Bank. When everything is put into place in the spacious new village office, an open house will be scheduled. Council member David Wheeler donated all of his time needed to make changes in the bank interior to fit the Village’s needs.

RIT training: Preparing for the worst 2008.02.06

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

A human chain of firefighters makes its way through a dark tunnel in the basement of the former Porter Lumber Company in Morenci. They’re searching for another department member who should have emerged from the building several minutes ago.

Upstairs, another set of volunteers is making its way though the “entanglement room,” an area strewn with loose wires, insulation and heating ductwork. They have waxed paper covering their face masks to simulate the reduced vision inside a burning building.

Nearby, firefighters are working to remove a victim from a small enclosure—a space almost too small to move around in.rit.farra.jpg

In each case, the goal is the same: Learning to prepare for the worst, for the time when a fellow department member is in trouble.

The training session Saturday introduced 30 firefighters from nine departments to the Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) concept. Whenever a department responds to an interior structure fire, a RIT team from a nearby support department is called to watch over the process.

Morenci sent a team to Hudson five times last year, plus once each to Clayton and Wauseon.

“It’s common practice to use your neighboring department’s RIT team,” said Morenci chief Chad Schisler, “because you don’t want to use your own.”

Searching for one of your own might not lead to clear thinking, he said, and besides, most departments in this area don’t have enough personnel to fight a fire and provide RIT.

Brad Lonis, who joined Phil Funchion, Steve Miller and Nick Smith as the first Morenci volunteers to complete training, explained the role of the RIT team.

“Before we get to the scene, we’ll call the IC [incident commander] and ask for basic information about the type of structure and about the fire,” Lonis said.

Upon arrival, the RIT commander does a walk-around to note exits and hazards that might impede an escape. The remainder of the RIT team is apprised of the situation, then two of them make an inspection around the outside of the building.rit.hose_rescue.jpg

If the fire is in a two-story structure, an egress ladder is erected and tagged so it stays in place. Equipment is made ready and the crew awaits instructions.

The commander makes constant contact with the main department IC, Lonis said, to remain aware of the location of firefighters as they move around the structure.

It’s a lot of work for what? Fortunately, there’s never been a need to send a RIT team inside since the training effort began in Lenawee County four years ago, but it’s like an insurance policy—ready to use if needed.

Out of Morenci’s 28 department members, 16 are RIT trained and the number is slowly growing among surrounding departments that could be called for help. Fayette and Lyons each have four RIT members now and Wauseon is up to five. The Fairfield department has three.

Members from all of those departments attended the training Saturday at the lumberyard—an empty structure eyed for future demolition that turned out to be a perfect training facility.

The Morenci Church of the Nazarene owns the property. In 2002, church members presented a plan to city council for construction of a new church and community center on the property.

Schisler wouldn’t mind if the building project remains on hold for years, as long as RIT classes are allowed to operate there.

He sees value in the training that goes well beyond the basic purpose of rescue work.

“We’re preparing for RIT, but the firefighter survival skills taught are used every time you go into a burning building,” Schisler said, and that’s of utmost importance to him.

When his department members crawl through an actual smoke-filled “entanglement room,” the skills they learned in RIT class could very well save their lives.

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