Thread: belay system

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    Default belay system

    Greetings,

    In order to comply with the NYS Bail Out Rope Law we need to train, obviously, with our systems. I am not someone who has a problem with any of this and feel at the very least this is a great opportunity to include additional training and skills for my volunteers.

    As someone who has only taken NYS OFPC/NFA "Intermediate" Rope Rescue in 1999 and who regularly partakes in NYS OFPC "Rescue Tech Basic" I have a questions for the members here. My District has no specialized rope rescue equipment but because of this law we need to purchase some to train our members. We already have the Harnesses (Gemtor 541NYC) and kits (Sterling F4, Firetech 32, Crosby). Now before they are issued we need to have a comprehensive training session with regular refreshers for our department.

    What I am looking for is a simple belay set up. How does this sound?

    1/2 static to bar rack to steel carabiners to anchor

    on the other end

    1/2 static to point above window, pulley, double 8, steel biner, firefighter.

    Attachment point on FF was going to be the harness that he/she is already wearing but now because it is a class II and could slide out if inverted I am having second thoughts and may go with this. This chest harness is not designed to work alone so i would attach it to the Gemtor (I have an email into CMC to check on this)

    Any ideas? Suggestions?

    Thanks -NoCoFire
    Last edited by NoCoFire; 05-11-2011 at 02:07 PM.

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    I've taught a lot of these class and I've seen what works and what doesn't
    You'll want to use a class 3 harness because the belay attachment that works best is the rear attachment point (between the shoulders). I've used class 2 harness and used the rear attachment point which didn't work out well.A belay catch will force the student to thrust forward. You can't utilize the front attachment point on either a class 2 or 3 harness because it gets in the way during the bail-out process.
    For the best results in my opinion use a class 3 harness (rear attachment)
    and a belay device that will catch on its own. A Petzl GriGri works well or a 540 belay is nice.
    An overhead anchor above the window works best, you want to be able to belay the student at the window allowing you to both belay and teach at the same time.
    This works for me. Any questions give me a shout.
    Mike Donahue
    "Training Prepares You...For Moments That Define You

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    I agree with Mike - the GriGri is the best option - but your 1/2" rope won't work for it. There This is not a typical fire service belay, it is more of what rock climbers would utilize for the situations they are in. The GriGri is one of the options that is now taught in emergency escape system train the trainer classes. You could also use a Petzl I'D for 1/2 rope, but it won't be as smooth as a GriGri and the brake bar rack is too much friction. The members will be getting hung up or lowered on belay instead of their escape system.

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    Forgot to mention - Class III harness - we utilize a improvised class III harness utilizing 1" tubular webbing so it maybe easily laundered.

    In addition your belay should be able to lift a member quickly if they get caught up in their escape line for any reason. Typically it is usually a bulky coat or glove that gets trapped under the rope and you need to raise them for a couple of seconds to free them and then can lower them to their escape system. It is not a frequent occurrence but something to be prepared for.

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    Here is a great way to tie a harness over the turnout gear with 1" webbing:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/FFDGP#p/u/28/pffKSYino3Y

    I like "Option 2" the best. This guy has some great, well thought out videos on youtube; you should check his other stuff out on bailout.

    While I am not for using a Munter hitch for rescue loads, I think it is a great tool when doing bailout training.

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    Default thanks for your help

    Mike, AFD020, and DCFDRescue2

    Thanks for your help.

    Should I be designing a system that is 1983 "compliant" or should I not worry about that and design a system that will suit me best provided that it falls within the manufacturers limits?

    Thanks -NoCoFire

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    We just ordered equipment for belays during safety and survival training, and we went the Petzl i'D. Once you get used to working one, you shouldn't have a problem keeping up with the person being belayed. Plus if they get hung up you lower them with the same device.

    I have no expirience with the GriGri, but being as you are dealing with a one person load, I don't see why it wouldn't work if that's what you're comfortable with.
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    Quote Originally Posted by NoCoFire View Post
    Mike, AFD020, and DCFDRescue2

    Thanks for your help.

    Should I be designing a system that is 1983 "compliant" or should I not worry about that and design a system that will suit me best provided that it falls within the manufacturers limits?

    Thanks -NoCoFire
    I'm guessing you have already read the law but here is a link in case you haven't.

    http://www.labor.ny.gov/workerprotec...refighters.pdf

    I took the train the trainer class offered by OFPC (The NYS Office of Fire Prevention and Control for those of you not in NY) and they said the Belay system should be NFPA 1983 compliant. A 1" tubular webbing hastey harness is sufficient for the belay connection ensuring the connection point is behind the firefighter. A munter hitch was the cheaper method of belay with a high change of direction above the window being bailed out of. 1/2" static rope was used and some people preferred the Petzl ID for the belay device. I think as was stated the rack will provide too much friction and you will end up lowering the FF performing the skill. It will especially make it difficult to have the proper amount of rope when the FF is transitioning out the window. Just the right amount of slack is needed or you will end up interfering with the transition.
    I believe the state is going out and teaching the train the trainer course acrossed the state for all fire departments. I would check to see when your county is offering the class and take it. Good luck with your search.
    Shawn M. Cecula
    Firefighter
    IACOJ Division of Fire and EMS

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    We (Des Plaines Fire in Cook County, Il) recently spent months developing our fall arrest/belay system for a number of evolutions, including bailouts. We built our system around the Petzl Rig, which is an excellent belay device. We prefer it over the Gri-Gri due to its industrial nature and NFPA certification, and over the ID because of its ease of use. The Rig also allowed us to screw down the face plate so that inexperienced personnel could not load the device backwards.

    Our research drove us away from dynamic rope, due to its inherent stretch. Our personnel consistently tipped the scales at 300lb's plus with gear and pack on. Depending on variables (rope type, harness stretch, anchor slack, etc.) you're looking at some significant distances when catching a fall. Pair this with the fact that too often these procedures are performed from the 2nd floor window!

    We went with a semi-static rope (PMI access pro) that caught the fall quickly and still provided shock absorption to the user. The rope had also been tested in leader fall applications (per PMI paperwork) and held up well.

    Finally, we decided on an industrial fall arrest harness. 1" tubular works, but it is difficult to get the consistency from person to person. In any event, cost should not be a factor when building your belay system. The cost of a broken ankle will far exceed any money saved by speccing/using an inferior belay system.

    Comments welcome

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    I believe the state is going out and teaching the train the trainer course acrossed the state for all fire departments. I would check to see when your county is offering the class and take it. Good luck with your search.
    You are correct - in fact there is training going on this weekend I believe in Greene County...at least that is what I ~think~ my husband is teaching this weekend.

    I can ask him specific questions, and about the training schedule if anyone is interested - not sure where he is heading next.....

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    Collin - great point about the RIG. I should use it for one of our bailout classes soon in place of the Gri-Gri. We have over 10,000 documented firefighter escape jumps with gri-gris and 1" webbing as the harness. While I agree consistency may not always be exact with 1" webbing, the same can be said for the person belaying. We only allow the instructors to tie the webbing harness and it was not a cost factor issue to use them, instead a sanitary issue.

    Steve Disick
    www.capitaltechrescue.com

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    Fully support the use of a Class III harness in this application. Collin, one of our neighboring departments had a member who was injured at a local training facility, doing ladder bailouts. Luckily, they used a belay and his "gut belt" saved him. However, his back is messed up.

    As for a belay device, the RIG and I'd 20 are both great devices. However, one piece is missing...Energy absorption. The use of an Energy Abosorber (shock absorber, screamer, rip pack, whatever you call it) guarantees that forces are limited to a manageable amount. All too often the belay operator cannot see the FF and therefore give them too much extra line. A freefall of just 2' can generate >1800 lbs of force.

    Great discussion! It's good to see that others are utilizing belays, in training.

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    Default Petzl ID

    Be careful using the ID as a belay. Even though the ID is a awesome easy to use device, Petzl put out a disclaimer in 2007 about using it as a belay. It seems in their testing the device cut the sheath a few times in drop test. It also goes on to state that using the device in a belay situation it would be advantageous to run it over a padded edge, which in turn would the initial "shock" to the device if it were to catch a load. Good luck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mordecai145 View Post
    Fully support the use of a Class III harness in this application. Collin, one of our neighboring departments had a member who was injured at a local training facility, doing ladder bailouts. Luckily, they used a belay and his "gut belt" saved him. However, his back is messed up.

    As for a belay device, the RIG and I'd 20 are both great devices. However, one piece is missing...Energy absorption. The use of an Energy Abosorber (shock absorber, screamer, rip pack, whatever you call it) guarantees that forces are limited to a manageable amount. All too often the belay operator cannot see the FF and therefore give them too much extra line. A freefall of just 2' can generate >1800 lbs of force.

    Great discussion! It's good to see that others are utilizing belays, in training.
    Mordecai,
    We found that using a semi-static rope gave us the shock absorption we were looking for. A 2' foot fall can generate 1800 lbs of force, but that scenario is unlikely in real world situations. That would be factor 2 fall situation on a cable attached to a weight in a testing lab. Most belay situations for F.D. one man evolutions are going to generate far less force.

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    Quote Originally Posted by collinmoon View Post
    Mordecai,
    We found that using a semi-static rope gave us the shock absorption we were looking for. A 2' foot fall can generate 1800 lbs of force, but that scenario is unlikely in real world situations. That would be factor 2 fall situation on a cable attached to a weight in a testing lab. Most belay situations for F.D. one man evolutions are going to generate far less force.
    So, how much force on a FF is acceptable? OSHA says < 1800 lbs of force. ANSI says <900 lbs of force. By using a quality energy absorber you can KNOW how much force is being exerted on the firefighter and the system. Any major manufacturer of energy absorbers will have tons of documentation about the performance of their product.

    When relying on the stretch of the rope for energy absorption, the amount of shock absorption is dependent upon the amount of line between the FF and the belay device.

    Shock absorbers are WIDELY used in the industrial world. I'll never understand why the fire service is so allergic to them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mordecai145 View Post
    So, how much force on a FF is acceptable? OSHA says < 1800 lbs of force. ANSI says <900 lbs of force. By using a quality energy absorber you can KNOW how much force is being exerted on the firefighter and the system. Any major manufacturer of energy absorbers will have tons of documentation about the performance of their product.

    When relying on the stretch of the rope for energy absorption, the amount of shock absorption is dependent upon the amount of line between the FF and the belay device.

    Shock absorbers are WIDELY used in the industrial world. I'll never understand why the fire service is so allergic to them.
    You're point about stretch being related to length is accurate, and shock absorbers do have their place in the fire-service, especially in Illinois For our belay system, (high directional, 50+ ft of semi-static rope, class 3 harness) it is not necessary. Its not that I'm against adding shock absorbers when necessary, just adding any component when its unnecessary.

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    Quote Originally Posted by collinmoon View Post
    You're point about stretch being related to length is accurate, and shock absorbers do have their place in the fire-service, especially in Illinois For our belay system, (high directional, 50+ ft of semi-static rope, class 3 harness) it is not necessary. Its not that I'm against adding shock absorbers when necessary, just adding any component when its unnecessary.
    Agreed! Adding in a component when it's unnecessary is impractical and a bad habit. However, most are using static 1/2" rope in their system. Because of this, the potential for excessive forces still exists. By adding the energy absorber, they can KNOW the limit of forces on: the firefighter, the anchor, and the rope.

    BTW- This thread may be boring to most, but it's great to see that we're actually discussing fall protection while on the training ground... and not just during rope drills! Kudos, to whomever started this thread!
    Last edited by Mordecai145; 06-26-2011 at 01:17 AM.

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    Default 2" Tubular Webbing

    I recently spoke with a representative from CMC who is helping me put my kit together. He suggested 2" tubular webbing for the body harness. I have always used 1" webbing. His reasons were that it was much more comfortable for the FF and a little easier to work with. Anyone have any experience using 2" tubular webbing for full body harnesses? At least from CMC it is only sold in spools.

    http://www.cmcrescue.com/product.php?dept_id=1241 Bottom most item.


    Thanks

    NoCoFire

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    Not to beat a dead horse from another thread, but putting a pulley instead of carabiner at your high directional (in this case, the one above your window) for the BELAY rope is completely unnecessary and only adds unnecessary impact to your belay device.

    As for needing a shock absorber in a top-rope belay (which this is what you all are talking about), if you've a competent belayer at the ready, it's unnecessary.

    What I've not heard anyone mention is the value of using bouldering pads or beater mattresses on the ground to guard ankles and tail bones during the last 8 feet or so near the ground, as the belay becomes less effective down there (especially if you add shock absorbers).

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    Quote Originally Posted by EricUlner View Post
    Not to beat a dead horse from another thread, but putting a pulley instead of carabiner at your high directional (in this case, the one above your window) for the BELAY rope is completely unnecessary and only adds unnecessary impact to your belay device.

    As for needing a shock absorber in a top-rope belay (which this is what you all are talking about), if you've a competent belayer at the ready, it's unnecessary.

    What I've not heard anyone mention is the value of using bouldering pads or beater mattresses on the ground to guard ankles and tail bones during the last 8 feet or so near the ground, as the belay becomes less effective down there (especially if you add shock absorbers).
    True Eric, but, the pulley at the hi directional will reduce friction in the belay so that the person on rope will be able to perform the evolution without the "hinderance" of the belay drag. I do agree the carabiner as the high directional will add friction to the belay, but, the person on rope will have to then deal with that drag while performing the evolution. A competent belayer is a must though.
    Shawn M. Cecula
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    IACOJ Division of Fire and EMS

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lewiston2FF View Post
    True Eric, but, the pulley at the hi directional will reduce friction in the belay so that the person on rope will be able to perform the evolution without the "hinderance" of the belay drag. I do agree the carabiner as the high directional will add friction to the belay, but, the person on rope will have to then deal with that drag while performing the evolution. A competent belayer is a must though.
    A simple redirect of the belay rope thru a carabiner does not add friction to the point that it would create the problem you're referring to. Redirecting the belay rope thru a carabiner(s) directional like this is done every day in the rock climbing world without affecting the climber's movement/mobility. And, think about belaying the rescue package in a lowering operation from a cliff top, where the belay rope is running over terrain and maybe some edge padding- way more friction on the rope than a carabiner. If the belayer blames the rope getting locked up at the belay device on the rub of the rope against the edge pro, a carabiner, etc., (please don't take offense because I mean none) my vote is remedial belay training.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EricUlner View Post
    A simple redirect of the belay rope thru a carabiner does not add friction to the point that it would create the problem you're referring to. Redirecting the belay rope thru a carabiner(s) directional like this is done every day in the rock climbing world without affecting the climber's movement/mobility. And, think about belaying the rescue package in a lowering operation from a cliff top, where the belay rope is running over terrain and maybe some edge padding- way more friction on the rope than a carabiner. If the belayer blames the rope getting locked up at the belay device on the rub of the rope against the edge pro, a carabiner, etc., (please don't take offense because I mean none) my vote is remedial belay training.
    No offense brother. I just found that it worked smoother with the belay and maintaining the proper amount of tension on the line without the person on rope not experiencing any drag with a pulley system. The actual friction would be applied when the belay device was needed and the directional was loaded. Even then it would be minimal compared to the breaking device. Difference of opinion but as long as it is done safely and correctly it will work. In general I dont use changes of direction in my belay lines because of the shock load failure potential. If it were possible i would prefer to rig the belay without the high directional. Makes the operation more complex though.
    Shawn M. Cecula
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    IACOJ Division of Fire and EMS

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lewiston2FF View Post
    -------The actual friction would be applied when the belay device was needed and the directional was loaded.
    I'd consider that a given.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lewiston2FF View Post
    Even then it would be minimal compared to the breaking device.
    I'm not positive, but I think you're meaning that there is much less friction against the directional, be it pulley or biner, versus the friction within the fixed brake. Yes, I'd say that would also be a given.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lewiston2FF View Post
    Difference of opinion but as long as it is done safely and correctly it will work.
    Oh yes, the pulley will definitely work. My only contention is that using a pulley within any directional in a belay system "works" too well. Friction in the belay system is your friend. That is what you're ultimately after.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lewiston2FF View Post
    In general I dont use changes of direction in my belay lines because of the shock load failure potential.
    If I need a directional in a belay system, I'd simply use the appropriate gear sufficient to make the catch. Then I wouldn't worry about failure potential any more than I would in any other element within the operation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lewiston2FF View Post
    If it were possible i would prefer to rig the belay without the high directional. Makes the operation more complex though.
    If the high directional is deemed to be appropriate and bomber, then it's appropriate and bomber, and then no worries.

    The premise in this thread was the protection of the person practicing bail out. Having the belay rope high seems advisable as it creates a safer angle in the rope relative to the vertical aspect of the wall. If no HD and the belay rope is attached to the dorsal, if the person blows it right at the lip, the angle of the rope can cause the person's face to eat the wall with gusto.

    So instead of having a certain preference to always sticking with a way to rig, my preference is to just rig appropriately given the situation at hand.
    Last edited by EricUlner; 08-11-2011 at 01:17 AM. Reason: typo

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    Quote Originally Posted by EricUlner View Post
    I'd consider that a given.



    I'm not positive, but I think you're meaning that there is much less friction against the directional, be it pulley or biner, versus the friction within the fixed brake. Yes, I'd say that would also be a given.



    Oh yes, the pulley will definitely work. My only contention is that using a pulley within any directional in a belay system "works" too well. Friction in the belay system is your friend. That is what you're ultimately after.



    If I need a directional in a belay system, I'd simply use the appropriate gear sufficient to make the catch. Then I wouldn't worry about failure potential any more than I would in any other element within the operation.



    If the high directional is deemed to be appropriate and bomber, then it's appropriate and bomber, and then no worries.

    The premise in this thread was the protection of the person practicing bail out. Having the belay rope high seems advisable as it creates a safer angle in the rope relative to the vertical aspect of the wall. If no HD and the belay rope is attached to the dorsal, if the person blows it right at the lip, the angle of the rope can cause the person's face to eat the wall with gusto.

    So instead of having a certain preference to always sticking with a way to rig, my preference is to just rig appropriately given the situation at hand.
    I agree on all accounts. My only point of discussion was the transition out the window and allowing the bail out system to take the tension rather than any stall in the belay and the belay taking tension. The way we practice is to make the bail out in real time. Once the belay is attached the person on rope will back off the window and crawl up while calling a mayday, anchor and go out the window, the belay person is removing slack and then providing belay during this time and needs to be very proficient in the belay operation so the belay does not become loaded. It has been performed with both a carabiner and a pulley and becomes easier with the pulley. Minimally easier but when being belay for 20 or so bail outs anything that makes my job easier a good thing.
    Shawn M. Cecula
    Firefighter
    IACOJ Division of Fire and EMS

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