1. #1
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Posts
    6

    Default Rope and Harness Life Span Question

    Real Quick -

    Rope Rescue Rope has a 10 year life span correct per NFPA or the manufacture right?
    This includes webbing as well?

    What about harnesses - whether it's a class three rescue harness to ladder belts, do they have a 10 year life span per NFPA or the manufacture?

    What about water rescue rope, does that a life span per NFPA or the manufacture?


    I apoligize for the all the questions, just tried to throw it all together.
    My name is Bob, once a proud member of a county team for over 13 years, made in to a level one rope rescue tech in NY state, I still plan on making it to level two when I can. I fell out of the team as life changes and miss it dearly. Lately though all my contact who'd I ask these stupid questions to have also fallen out of the team. I'm kind of lost and didn't know where else to turn to for answers, so if you guys out there don't mind, i posted them here.

  2. #2
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Lakes Region, NH
    Posts
    84

    Default

    I'm pretty sure 10 years is the life span per NFPA for all soft goods- at least for life support purposes. It's been a while since I've looked at the standard though.

    That being said, life span of ropes is something that's been debated on a rock climbing forum I'm on. I believe Black Diamond tested some decades old rope and found no significant strength loss. It's all in how it's stored though- I'd trust my life to a 30 year old, otherwise new rope that had been stored in a temperature controlled closet much sooner than I would to a 3 year old rope that was left hanging in direct sunlight in a garage with all sorts of chemical vapors in the air...

  3. #3
    Forum Member
    MichaelXYZ's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    San Diego
    Posts
    354

    Default

    I don't think NFPA std specifies service life of soft equipment. NFPA 1500 specifies reuse criteria as equipment inspection is performed per NFPA 1983, and that usage in accordance in 1983. ie. (rope has not been subjected to impact load.

  4. #4
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Port Allen, LA
    Posts
    149

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelXYZ View Post
    I don't think NFPA std specifies service life of soft equipment. NFPA 1500 specifies reuse criteria as equipment inspection is performed per NFPA 1983, and that usage in accordance in 1983. ie. (rope has not been subjected to impact load.
    Here is the information you were looking for in all the wrong places. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on which side you are on, you can't find all the standards related to technical rescue in one easy location. This information sheet was put out by CMC a few years ago. In a nutshell, there is no stated lifespan for webbing or harnesses used for rescue. We retire all of our ropes, rescue harnesses, tubular webbing, flat webbing, etc., after it reaches its 10 year in service date. At that point we use a lot of the equipment (rope, webbing) in destructive systems testing, cut it up for tow ropes, knot tying ropes, ropes for the boat or around the house or at the camp, etc.

    Mike

    Service Life of a Rescue Harness

    CMC Rescue is known for our top-quality harnesses and many of our customers ask us when they should retire their harnesses. Here’s our recommendation:

    The service life of a rescue harness is closely related to that of a rescue rope – both are used in the same environments, both are made from nylon or polyester, and both receive similar levels of inspection and care. Since harnesses are worn on the body, they are generally better protected than the ropes. On the other hand, harnesses rely on the stitching to hold them together, and due to its small diameter, the thread can be more susceptible to abrasion, aging, and chemical damage than web or rope.

    The fall protection industry recommends 2 to 3 years as a service life for a harness or belt in use. They recommend 7 years as the shelf life. The military was using 7 years as a service life for nylon products. The Climbing Sports Group of the Outdoor Recreation Coalition of America says that a climbing harness should last about two years under normal weekend use. At this time, the rescue industry does not have a recommended service life for harnesses.

    Through the ASTM consensus standards process, the rescue industry set 10 years as the maximum service life for a life safety rope (see ASTM Standard F1740-96 Guide for Inspection of Nylon, Polyester, or Nylon/Polyester Blend, or both Kernmantle Rope). The guide stresses that the most significant contributing factor to the service life of a rope is the history of use. A rope that is shock loaded or otherwise damaged should be retired immediately. Hard use would call for a shorter service life than would be acceptable for a rope that sees very little use, and any obvious damage during use would indicate immediate retirement.

    If we apply the same analysis to the rescue harness, then the actual use and the conclusions drawn from inspection would be the significant criteria for retirement. We do know that with any use, a rope will age, and thus a harness is likely to do the same, so a 10-year maximum service life may well be the reasonable limit for harnesses as well, assuming inspection has not provided any earlier reason for retirement.

    As with the ropes, if the harness has been subjected to shock loads, fall loads, or abuse other than normal use, the harness should be removed from service. In conclusion, if there is any doubt about the serviceability of the harness for any of the above reasons, it should be removed from service.

    We welcome your questions, comments, and suggestions for CMC RescuE-News!
    Email info@cmcrescue.com to submit your feedback.
    To subscribe: email info@cmcrescue.com and type 'Subscribe' in the Subject line.
    To unsubscribe: email info@cmcrescue.com and type 'Unsubscribe' in the Subject line.

    CMC Rescue, Inc.
    Web: www.cmcrescue.com Email: info@cmcrescue.com Phone: (805) 562-9120 or (800) 235-
    5741 CMC RescuE-News for Friday, June 15, 2001

  5. #5
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Port Allen, LA
    Posts
    149

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by T-man View Post
    Real Quick -

    I'm kind of lost and didn't know where else to turn to for answers, so if you guys out there don't mind, i posted them here.
    Good morning Bob,

    This is a great forum to come to for technical rescue answers. Sometimes the answers can be a little slow in coming or may get off topic once in a while but still....a great resource. I haven't heard many stupid questions when dealing with technical rescue. Either you know it or you don't and if you don't you ask questions. Give me a hollar if you have any questions and I'll see if i can help.

    Mike Dunn
    rsqman68@gmail.com

  6. #6
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Port Allen, LA
    Posts
    149

    Default

    Just make sure everyone understands why we write standards. #1reason should be to improve safety and a lot of times this is what actually happens. What also happens is that the standards we write become ammunition for the lawyers. We have a standard in place on rope retirement from a nationally recognized standards writing organization, ASTM F-32 committee on Search and Rescue. It is an "open" committee and anyone that has an interest can join.

    Imagine the following scenario......You respond to technical rescue that involves ropes (high angle or confined space). You quickly size up the scene, put your systems in place and make a timely, successful rescue saving the victim's life. While you are all patting yourselves on the back the patient, wanting to experience the easy life after his traumatic experience hires an attorney and sues you for big dollars. The attorney sends out a research analyst to look through any standard that might help his case and finds ASTM F-1740 - Standard Guide for Inspection of Nylon, Polyester, or Nylon/Polyester Blend Kernmantle Rope which says that after 10 years in service the rope needs to be removed from service. They examine the ropes you used to make the successful, safe, timely rescue and lo and behold......your ropes are 12 years old. The age of the ropes had absolutely nothing to do with the successful rescue but it provides a lot of ammunition for the attorney.

    When it goes to court it might sound something like this........

    "Mr. Rescuer. Were you aware that their is a nationally recognized standard that says rescue ropes need to be retired after 10 years in service?"

    There are only 2 possible answers here for you....#1 - No sir, I didn't know that. (Expect things to go against you at that point).....#2 - Yes sir, I was aware of the standard. (Expect things to go against you at that point).

    "Mr. Rescuer, are you telling me that you are so inept and poorly trained that you don't know about national standards that apply to rope rescue?"......or

    "Mr. Rescuer, are you telling me that you knowingly and willfully risked my clients life by using that old worn out rope that should have been retired years ago?"

    All they have to do is create the impression in the jury's mind that you are terrible people because you risked their client's life and the dollar amount goes up.

    It's definitely something to think about. I've never been sued for actions I performed at a rescue and plan for it to stay that way by keeping up with my research on standards and techniques and new equipment

    Mike

  7. #7
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Location
    Somewhere in the Backcountry...
    Posts
    176

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by rsqman View Post
    <snip>...Imagine the following scenario......You respond to technical rescue that involves ropes (high angle or confined space). You quickly size up the scene, put your systems in place and make a timely, successful rescue saving the victim's life. While you are all patting yourselves on the back the patient, wanting to experience the easy life after his traumatic experience hires an attorney and sues you for big dollars. The attorney sends out a research analyst to look through any standard that might help his case and finds ASTM F-1740 - Standard Guide for Inspection of Nylon, Polyester, or Nylon/Polyester Blend Kernmantle Rope which says that after 10 years in service the rope needs to be removed from service. They examine the ropes you used to make the successful, safe, timely rescue and lo and behold......your ropes are 12 years old. The age of the ropes had absolutely nothing to do with the successful rescue but it provides a lot of ammunition for the attorney.

    When it goes to court it might sound something like this........

    "Mr. Rescuer. Were you aware that their is a nationally recognized standard that says rescue ropes need to be retired after 10 years in service?"

    There are only 2 possible answers here for you....#1 - No sir, I didn't know that. (Expect things to go against you at that point).....#2 - Yes sir, I was aware of the standard. (Expect things to go against you at that point).

    "Mr. Rescuer, are you telling me that you are so inept and poorly trained that you don't know about national standards that apply to rope rescue?"......or

    "Mr. Rescuer, are you telling me that you knowingly and willfully risked my clients life by using that old worn out rope that should have been retired years ago?"

    All they have to do is create the impression in the jury's mind that you are terrible people because you risked their client's life and the dollar amount goes up.

    It's definitely something to think about. I've never been sued for actions I performed at a rescue and plan for it to stay that way by keeping up with my research on standards and techniques and new equipment

    Mike
    In negligence theory, cause in fact and proximate cause need to be considered in PI lawsuits. In order to prove negligence, the following elements must be met - duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages.

    Cause in fact and proximate cause are part of the causation elements of a negligence suit. Both must be proven in order for the plaintiff to recover damages for personal injury. Cause in fact requires that the defendant’s negligent conduct was the actual cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.

    In the scenario outlined, the case likely fails this test IF the plaintiff was not injured during the rescue (by rescuers being negligent and using old rope). There are effectively no damages related to the rescue therefore nothing to recover. You are dismissed as a defendant.

    Proximate cause refers to the “foreseeability” of the injuries. That is, the plaintiff’s injuries must be a foreseeable result of the defendant’s conduct. If the injuries are far not closely linked to the defendant’s conduct, then the plaintiff will not recover. The defendant cannot be held liable for injuries that don’t have a reasonable link to their actions.

    IF the subject of the rescue is injured during the rescue because the "old" rope breaks or fails in some way - you likely have a problem.

    In any case, you don't ever want to find yourself in this situation 'cause you'd have to defend the case. YMMV and don't go to court counting on legal advice off the internet!

  8. #8
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Port Allen, LA
    Posts
    149

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MtnRsq View Post
    In any case, you don't ever want to find yourself in this situation 'cause you'd have to defend the case. YMMV and don't go to court counting on legal advice off the internet!
    Thanks for clearing that up for me and others, Mtn. I've never been on the defending side in court before and I hope to keep it that way.

    Rsqman

  9. #9
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Posts
    6

    Default

    Thanks for the advice guys, I'll tell ya, the court and liability stuff always weighs heavily on my mind no matter what aspect of firefighter I'm doing.

    We keep all of our stuff in a truck compartment, very rarely used. Our RIT team rope now 12 years old looks brand new. I'm at a loss, cause it's new but don't want to run the risk of it breaking and ending up in court.

    Mr. Dunn, I think I have communicated with you in the past

  10. #10
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Posts
    169

    Default

    All the standards are are a great places to start....I know we have a lot of professionals on this forum, but we also have a lot of folks with very limited experience. With that in mind, nothing replaces good ol common sense to retire a rope. My point is that NOTHING replaces the importance of a thorough inspection after use. If it's been a while since the rope has been "exercised", than exercise and inspect it. You may find that your in service rope is not meeting the "10-yr" retirement. Some manuafactures go on to say that they recommend a 5 yr retirement if the ropes are heavily used during that time period. The 10-yr retirement is often thought of as shelf-life of the product. By that they mean either limited use or no use.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. Life safety harness question
    By RyanK63 in forum Firefighters Forum
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 05-30-2011, 12:27 PM
  2. AFG equipment life span
    By rescuetech147 in forum Federal FIRE ACT Grants & Funding
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 03-12-2011, 03:48 PM
  3. Life Span - Turnout Gear
    By dtruelove in forum Firefighters Forum
    Replies: 46
    Last Post: 05-30-2010, 09:53 PM
  4. rope harness help
    By firedan2485 in forum Firefighters Forum
    Replies: 18
    Last Post: 01-20-2008, 04:27 PM
  5. Life Span of Firefighters?
    By bummer in forum Firefighters Forum
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 08-17-2004, 12:18 PM

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts

Log in

Click here to log in or register