1. #1
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    Default I Need Help with Winch Training

    Received this training request from a connecticut firefighter. I'd like my resident "experts" to offer him some advice and assistance.

    Dear Chief Moore,

    I am a member of a small career fire department as well as a member in my home town volunteer department. I have been asked to develop a lesson plan dealing with fire apparatus mounted winch operations based upon your last two articles. We currently have two Ramsey winches, one each mounted on our rescue and first due engine. After speaking with surrounding departments and the state fire academy, I have come up with nothing usable that's in printed form. Most people seem to rely on word of mouth and "learned" knowledge.

    Can you supply any information related to a training environment or point me in the right direction? Specifically, we would address such areas as; anchor points, proper rigging, proper use of hardware, safety considerations, load angles, ect.

    Though this program will be specific to our area and considerations, I'm certainly not looking to reinvent the wheel. Please forward any info to my home address or e-mail.

    Thank you,

    Bill Sampson email [hazvil22@cox.net]

    Bill Sampson [ Windsor Locks FD ]
    123 Spring St
    Windsor Locks, Ct 06096
    Ron Moore, Forum Moderator
    www.universityofextrication.com

  2. #2
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    Although we don't utilise vehicle mounted winches on our appliances over here, we do carry Tirfor portable models, which in alot of cases are more useful than their vehicle based counterparts.

    As with most, if not all firefighting/rescue devices, the first & foremost item on any training schedule/SOP must be SAFETY. Winches are a dangerous animal if used incorrectly or under the wrong circumstances.

    My suggestions would go somthing along these lines.

    1) Only trained personnel should be winch operators. Regular useage of the winch and associated equipment should be kept up, making people familiar with what may be a seldom used piece of equipment. Regular demonstration of techniques/safety/problem solving should be monitored. Personnel should be aware of the limitations of the equipment as well as the capabilites and should not be "railroaded" into trying to "pull the unpullable"

    2) When training/operating with a crew or crews safety briefs MUST be given to ensure all personnel on the fire ground are aware that winches and moving equipment will be put to use. (Briefs to include what is to be pulled, direction of the pull, safety areas for non essential personnel to muster, actions to be taken in event of winch or associated equipment failure).

    3) Decisions to pull items such as vehicles should only be made after a risk assessmentto determine the terrain/damage to the item or vehicle/risk of further injury to a patient or worsening of the general situation.

    4) A Safety Officer should be appointed to monitor the winching operations and prevent intrusion to the winching area by personnel or bystanders.

    5) The winch cable should be covered with a suitable item such as a salvage sheet (tarpaulin) in order to make it visible to others. We also hang high viz jackets over each end so people know where they are, I think light sticks would be helpful at night to identify where the cable is.

    6) During winching, the winch operator, should be protected as much as possible, should not stand next to the winch, or forward of the winch mechanism. The least cover required should be standing behind one of the open doors of the vehicle. If the winch operator is unable to see the item being pulled, for instance somthing down an embankment, then an observer should be appointed at a suitably safe point to relay messages to the operator.

    7) where possible a saftey line of a suitable breaking strain should be attached to the item to be winched, in case of sudden failure or slippage of the cable. This saftey line should be belayed from another vehicle, not the one powering the winch and should be tensioned in tandem with the cable.

    8) The winching vehicle and backup should be suitably anchored and chocked if on hard ground to prevent slippage.

    9) At all times if casulaties are involved, the winching should be at the direction of the attending medic and advice must be taken from such persons prior to winching or continuing to winch if a halt has been called.

    10) Commands should be simple and easy to remeber by all concerned and a resume of the commands to be used should eb given in the safety brief. Suggested commands could be "Take In" (to take up the slack on the cable/lines).(The winch cable should always be "1" or "Alpha" and the saftey "2" or "Bravo"). "Steady" should be sued when winching is under way and strain is applied to the cable etc. "All Stop" to indicate that winching and saftey line retrieval should stop immediately. "Continue" to indicate to the operators to continue winching. "Still" (a command still used in the UK), if the operation has been comprimised by intrusion into the danger area between the subject and winching vehicle. This command means that all persons stand immediately still until the danger is removed.

    11) All equipment, especially the cable should be checked for wear or damage after every winching, and if the cable soes show signs of fraying it should be replaced immediately or taken out of service until replaced.
    Suitable anchor points are probably the hardest thing to come by, the best is probably the vehicle the winch is attached to, followed by the largest firmest structure you can find to the incident, usually a tree. As wel as the winch and cable, we carry 2 continuous loop Viking slings which have a 6 ton breaking strain. 4 shackles and a tackle block for use when running the cable over open areas where the cable needs to be kept as straight as possible.

    The best angle to have is the straightest possible from the winch to the subject. Pulling at angles to a subject will put strain on the winch and make pulling more difficult. The subject being winched may well react in a completely different way if it is pulled at a different angle to that at which it came to rest.

    I will post some photos of the gear carried which may explain better what it is.

    Hope this helps
    United Kingdom branch, IACOJ.

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    See the replies under"winch safety operations"this forum.Under NO circumstances would I ever put ANY object(short of flagging tape)on a LOADED winch line.The results could be VERY dangerous.If you're using Ramsey winches,contact them for literature regarding the use of their product or use one of the other resources I listed in my response.Or contact Big Rig to set up a course in your area.We have trained quite a few responders from the Conn. area.Broad brook has graduates from the program.T.C.

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    R101, just to add a reply and hopefully clarify my earlier post. The idea of placing a salvage sheet over the cable is not to dampen the effects of a loaded winch cable breaking, more to make the cable visible to people at the scene. You are quite correct when you say that nothing will prevent a cable from snaking back and hitting somthing, probably doing a lot of damage to the vehicle its attached to. We use this d this purely as a visible safety item and although I have not seen it happen I feel a lightweight plastic sheet is'nt going to cause that much harm should the cable fail.
    United Kingdom branch, IACOJ.

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    Talking My take on covers

    Martin,Thanks for the reply.Now let me run this by you.I'm a towing/recovery company owner first,Division Fire Chief second.Probably 75% of my winching operations involve one or more snatch blocks.You mentioned covering one or more ends of the wire rope for visibility.Well I DON'T want mine covered,Iwant to be able to see those blocks working and make sure nothing(like a rock)is getting into the rope's sheave area.The reason I use flagging tape is it's cheap,effective,and will pass thru the blocks without damaging anything besides the tape.Secondly you mention them for crew safety/visibility.Well in the "pure"world there should be NO PERSONNEL in the radius of the length of wire rope once the system has been "loaded".Do we all do it? Yes. Is it smart? You be the judge!I'm not suggesting if your SOG's states to cover;not to.I'm not going to because of reasoning above and in prior posts.You mention "taking cover"behind a door.Be thoughtful on this as well,stand on a milk crate or similar if you feel this necessary.Most wire rope injuries that I am familiar with occur from the waist/or knee area down.Far better to learn vehicles weights and the limitations of your rigging.Make SURE you know the swl/wll(safe working limit/working load limit)on your equipment.Know your equipment and your rigging,the grades of same and how to inspect it.Work within limits and you will likely never experience a failure.Also be aware that the rope that comes on a vehicle winch is NOT NECESSARILY the best quality available.All of my trucks are equipped with steel core rope.I find it's stronger and wears longer.It DOES NOT,however,turn corners(wind)as neatly as fiber core.I'm absolutely anal about people in my work area once I get ready to pull the lever.If they are in the "kill" zone,the line isn't tensioned until the area is cleared.Ask my local PD.Hope this helps,T.C.
    Last edited by Rescue101; 09-07-2004 at 09:50 AM.

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