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Thread: Brake Bar Rack

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    Default Brake Bar Rack

    When dealing with the life safety line on a brake bar rack what is the standard for locking off? How many bars is everyone teaching? And does NFPA have a standard on this. Asking this because we are testing at our dept. And two testers have told us they were taught to lock off with a minimum of four bars with a life safety load, two person loads. Just want to here if this is acceptable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cpfdmiller View Post
    When dealing with the life safety line on a brake bar rack what is the standard for locking off? How many bars is everyone teaching? And does NFPA have a standard on this. Asking this because we are testing at our dept. And two testers have told us they were taught to lock off with a minimum of four bars with a life safety load, two person loads. Just want to here if this is acceptable.
    Good morning CPFD,

    I'm currently teaching a 40 hour confined space/high angle rescue class for 10 industrial students ranging in size from 150 lbs to 300 lbs. They use a 6-bar open frame brake bar rack for lowering. I require all 6 bars to be laced in and the rack locked off before putting someone on the line for lowering. You are most likely to fall when first climbing over the handrail so maximum friction at that point on the rack. After their weight is fully on the rope the rack is unlocked, the bars are spread and the lower begins. All of my beginning students quickly mastered the rack and can easily lower a 150 lb person while keeping all 6 bars engaged. It is a matter of technique. Spread the bars = less friction, push the bars together = more friction, change the angle of the rope as it enters the rack = more or less friction. They are using racks that have solid aluminum bars so higher friction from them.

    If absolutely necessary they can drop ONE bar only, never any more than that for a human load. If they drop a second bar they have actually dropped 2 more bars. Because of the angle of the rope entering the rack there is almost no friction from the 4th bar and control may be lost.

    To lock off the rack (depends on style obviously, hyper bar or no hyper bar, etc.,) Rope comes under last bar on rack, up towards head of rack, passes between rack and loaded rope being careful not to pull it between the #1 and #2 bars. The rope then passes under the last bar one more time and back towards the head of the rack. Take a loop of slack rope and tie an overhand knot around the rope leaving the rack to positively lock it off.

    Mike Dunn
    Last edited by rsqman; 11-07-2013 at 07:37 AM. Reason: spelling

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    great information Mike thank you so much.

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    In my CMC Rope Rescue manual, it states "A general rule is never to use less than 4 bars."

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    While going down to 4 bars durring a lower is fine, to lock off a rack all bars should be engaged with friction prior to locking off the device, and add the hyper bar if equiped. The idea is that when you unlock the bar rack you will have full avalible friction in the system, and can than reduce as needed. You would not want to unlock the device with less stopping power already in the system.
    ~Drew
    Firefighter/EMT/Technical Rescue
    USAR TF Rescue Specialist

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    Quote Originally Posted by FiremanLyman View Post
    . The idea is that when you unlock the bar rack you will have full avalible friction in the system, and can than reduce as needed. You would not want to unlock the device with less stopping power already in the system.
    As Drew said, it's easy to drop a bar. It can be very difficult to add a bar back in after unlocking when the rope is zooming through the rack. Maintain positive control at all times.

    Mike Dunn
    FiremanLyman likes this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rsqman View Post
    ... It can be very difficult to add a bar back in after unlocking when the rope is zooming through the rack...
    I like that: mental imagery at its finest.
    ~Drew
    Firefighter/EMT/Technical Rescue
    USAR TF Rescue Specialist

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    Miller -

    I'll answer the NFPA part of your question (didn't see it addressed); for full disclosure I am a principle member of NFPA 1006. No part of the professional qualification or team training standard (1670) discusses technique to perform any of the skills presented; No there is no part of NFPA that states how many bars to lock off with. This is done for a couple of reasons. One, there are number of ways to skin a cat. It would be impossible to discuss the various equipment and the operational variables that would affect the equipment. Second, it would require a full time committee to stay abreast of new techniques, new equipment, and regional trends for an NFPA committee to put technique in the standard. We'd wind up with a document that would need to be updated every year.

    Another issue with putting technique and equipment requirements in the standard is that it would inevitably discriminate against one group of rescuers (urban, rural, mountain, law enforcement, military).

    It is interesting that you pose this question as, believe it or not, it is a common misconception.

    Racks are a tough nut for vertically challanged rescuers (many times they can't reach out far enough to lock off), and females (small hands have a difficult time spreading out the bars). I truely think the answer to your question is one that the individual rescuer has to answer and compare that to the expectation of your organization. Some organizations go for the "Maximum safety, all the time". If that is the montra of your organization than all 6 bars should be used. If not, than some other number of bars is the minimum.

    When a rack is locked-off it is compressed. How easy is it to uncompress a loaded rack?

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    thanks guys for the info. wanted to see what everyone out there is teaching

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    thank you for the information that nailed it on he head for me.

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