The #AtoZChallenge is over, but I couldn’t just leave the challenge hanging without trying to make up the letters I missed. Unfortunately a bout with a bit of vertigo due to cerumen impaction, complicated by history of cholesteotoma, had me pretty much down and out for a couple days. Even once “back up”, I wasn’t running up to par for a few days and then there was all the dreaded “catch-up”… You know, all the stuff that didn’t get done while you were down & out that now needs to be done. Sadly the AtoZChallenge was pretty much at the bottom of that list (at least when it came to family). But enough on the excuses and complaining… On to (finishing up) the challenge.
Letter R was to be Rope:
There are 2 basic types of rope used in the fire service: the Utility Rope and the Life Safety Rope. The utility rope is used mainly for the purpose of handing up or lowering of tools and is not designed to be used for supporting persons. For this, the Life Safety rope is used. The weight limit of the life safety rope is 300 lbs for a one person rope and 600 for the two person rope.
Two other types of ropes used in the fire service are the Personal Escape rope and the Search rope. The Personal Escape rope is designed to support the weight of only person and to be used in extreme emergency situations only. They are to be replaced after only one use. The search rope, not to be confused with the Personal Escape rope, is used for the purpose of ensuring that firefighters assigned to search operations in large, open, or congested spaces will be able to find their way out.
Earliest ropes made from natural vines & woven together. In 1938 the first synthetic, Nylon, was manufactured and from that point forward synthetics were used in the fire service. There are a couple advantages to the use of synthetics over natural fibers including the fact that synthetics are easier to wash and dry and do not absorb water as readily as do natural fibers (which can absorb up to 50% of it’s weight in water. Another advantage is that synthetics are more susceptible to mildew and deterioration. However, it must be stated that prolonged exposure to ultraviolet lights as well as strong acids alkalis can damage the rope. Also, synthetics are highly susceptible to abrasions & cutting.
It is critical that you follow proper maintenance procedures for your rope (your life, the life of your brethren, and the life of the people you rescue depend on it). The 4 steps to rope maintenance are: Care, Clean, Inspect, Store. Briefly; Make sure you are properly caring for your rope according to manufacture guidelines. Make sure your are cleaning & inspecting your rope after each use (as well as at the beginning of each shift, regardless of use the previous shift). Also, be sure you are properly storing your rope to maintain it’s integrity. Rope should be stored clean & dry and without kinks and tangles.
Some rope safety tips: • Avoid walking or standing on the rope • Do not drag the rope. Added abrasion leads to less sheath life • Do not leave a rope under tension for any extended period of time unless necessary • Remove all knots as soon as possible • If rope cleaning is needed, clean by rinsing with clean fresh water • Dry wet rope (hang dry) before bagging • Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation will damage the rope, keep exposure to a minimum • Nylon moving across nylon can melt through the stationary piece. Be careful when running nylon over nylon, for example moving rope over stationary webbing • Be sure to pad sharp edges • Avoid adding twists and kinks when bagging/coiling the ropes.
And some Rope Terms:
- Running End – (Working End) The end of a rope that you will manipulate the most to actively tie a knot.
- Bitter End – (Standing End) The end of the rope not being used in the knot you are tying. The opposite end to the “running end”.
- Bight – Any rope that doubles back on itself without actually crossing over.
- Loop – Created when a bight crosses itself.
- Knot – An intertwined loop of rope, used to fasten two such ropes to one another or to another object. A knot, even when not in use, will hold its shape or form.
- Bend or Hitch – Ways of fastening or tying ropes together. A hitch will not hold its form when not in use or “wrapped” around something.
- Splice – Made by untwisting two rope ends and weaving them together.
- Kernmantle – (literally “core–sheath”) rope is a balanced construction consisting of continuous filament polyester cover braided over a unidirectional nylon core. It is designed to meet the rigorous requirements associated with rescue and rappelling operations.
Join me on an A to Z Journey of firefighting tools throughout the month of April. I appreciate feedback. Please keep in mind that I am not (nor do I pretend to be) a firefighter or a member, either volunteer or paid, of the fire service. My purpose here is to pass on knowledge that I find in hopes to both bring awareness to the fire-service and to help those in the profession do their job safer and better.