Nylon tubular webbing is a tool that can not be over stated. This tool can be used for many different operations and really should be carried by each member on the apparatus.
There is flat webbing and tubular webbing. Flat webbing is like a seat belt, a single strip of webbing. Tubular webbing (see photo 1) on the other hand comes in two types, Edge stitched and Shuttle Loom. For Edge Stitching, a flat piece of webbing is folded over on itself and sewn together. Shuttle Loom is constructed by using one piece of "Thread" and weaving it on to a tube. Shuttle Loom is also know as the Spiral Weave and is traditionally the preferred webbing for high angle operations. There are many, many types of webbing sizes and types; many should not be used for life saving applications. Do not buy anything unless you can identify its tinsel breaking strength, type of material, and manufactured date. For example, avoid using surplus webbing.
Setting it up for Rapid Deployment
Each member should have 24 feet of webbing tied with a water knot to create a continuous loop (see photo 2). Twenty-four feet of webbing, tied in to a loop, will give us the proper amount needed to perform most tasks associated with this tool. One-inch nylon tubular webbing has an approximate breaking strength of 4000 pounds and when tied in a loop, the knotted strength is approximately 3000 pounds.
Webbing should be inspected with your regular tools but at least monthly and after each use, and it can be cleaned with a mild soap and water. In essence, give the webbing the same care you give your ropes. It should also be noted that webbing does not respond as well as rope to shock loading, and should be protected from fiction heat when used over an edge. Webbing is not that expensive in the large scheme of things and my recommendation would be, use it one time for anything and replace it. Someone's life may depend on it.
The purpose of carrying webbing is not to use it like your utility rope, to haul or drag tools or hose; it is used for life saving reasons. We are not talking about weaving a person in to a basket, we're talking about a member that is in a hazardous environment: he's down and needs rescue. NOW! This is not the "touchy feely" part of the job, this is "old school" firefighting. We are not throwing caution to the wind; we are getting our brother or sister the hell outta there. NOW! Anyhow, the politically correct version of what I am saying is: Spinal immobilization may not be possible due to the need for immediate removal of the member from an imminently dangerous situation. That's what we're using this for: Saving lives.
There are several ways to carry your webbing. You can make a daisy chain and carry it in your pocket. It keeps the webbing from tangling and comes apart easily. (Follow steps below, along with photos in slideshow.)
- Hold the webbing in your hand with the bite away from your body (see photo 3A)
- Tie a loop in the webbing with a slip knot (see photo 3B)
- Create another bite and pass it through the loop as shown in photos 3C and 3D
- Take another bite and pass it through the loop again as shows in photos 3E and 3F.
- Continue to pass the bites through the new loops until your webbing is "chained" completely. (see photo 3G)
You can also roll it on to itself and keep it in an examination glove (see photo 4) with a small piece sticking out and keep it in your pocket too.
A third option to carry webbing is by keeping it in your knee pad, if you have removable pads. Peel the pad down and "weave" the webbing up and down inside the pad (see photo 5) and when you reattach the pad properly, leaving a small piece sticking out so you can grab it with gloves on. This method actually gives you more knee protection and is not uncomfortable at all. I have used my webbing quite often and having it right at my disposal makes it a useful tool when it's needed and no one is fumbling around trying to get one. It's on the spot.