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  1. #1
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    Default NFPA -> Light Rescue Vs General Rescue

    Hey Guys and Gals:

    Just wondering if someone can help me define what the NFPA means by Light Rescue Vs General Rescue. They seem to have two different sets of standards for the above titles. I appreciate you help. Thank you in advance. –Chris


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    There is only one standard for the terms mentioned and it is the 1983 standard. The problem is, there are an awful lot of instructors out there who still reference old versions of the standard. This causes most of the confusion out there.

    Before I begin, it is important to understand that the NFPA 1983 standard is a manufacturer's standard. It is not a user standard .

    Within the standard the designation of light use refers to equipment that is not as strong as general use. The common misunderstanding is that only general use equipment can be used for rescue loads because the old language referred to one-person and two-person loads. This language was removed because there are many peices of "light use" equipment that can be used for rescue loads. You should be following the manufacturer's recommendations for use of the equipment. There are different strengths for different types of equipment.

    Light use life safety rope must have a breaking strength of at least 20kn (4496lbf) and a diameter between 9.5mm (3/8") and 13mm (1/2").

    General use life safety rope must have a breaking strength of at least 40kn (8992lbf) and a diameter between 13mm (1/2") and 16mm (5/8").

    Auxiliary equipment accounts for things such as ascenders, descent control devices, carabiners, rope grabs, snap links, pulleys and anchor slings.

    Light use auxiliary equipment will have a design load of at least 1.33kn (300lbf)
    General use auxiliary equipment will have a design load of at least 2.67kn (600lbf)

    Light use carabiners must have a major axis breaking strength of 27kn (6069lbf)
    General use carabiners must have a major axis breaking strength of 40kn (8992lbf)

    Ascenders must hold a test load of 5kn (1124lbf) without causing permanent damage to the rope.
    Rope grabs must hold a test load of 11kn (2473lbf) without causing permanent damage to the rope.

    Light use descent control devices shall withstand a test load of 13.5kn (3034lbf) without failure.
    General use descent control devices shall withstand a test load of 22kn (4946lbf) without failure.

    If you want to eliminate thinking from rope rescue then you can simply go with all general use equipment for rescue. There are times, however, when weight becomes an issue, such as tower rescue and mountain rescue. In these cases you can easily reduce the weight of your equipment by 50% and still maintain safety by utilizing light use equipment. There are also very valuable peices of equipment that can make rescue very efficient that are not being used by teams because thay do not have the "G" rating. It is important to note that the NFPA does not reference a specific safety factor. Sterling ropes 12mm (7/16) HTP rope has a MBS of 34.7kn (7791lbf). Sterling recommends a safe working load of 3.47kn (779lbf). This is a 10:1 safety factor. This rope does not have the G rating but can be used for rescue. The commonly accepted worst case scenario for a rescue belay is a 1 meter fall on 3 meters of rope. A 267kg (600lb) load caught with the 540 belay device or tandem prussics with a load release hitch will have a peak force of about 13-14kn. Common practice is to ensure a dynamic safety factor of 2:1 and this is acheived with this rope.
    Sometimes, in order to make an operation idiot proof, you must remove the idiot!

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    We ar eone of those teams. Everything "G" when some of the stuff available would work better then what we have.
    One example is the Petzl I'D http://www.petzl.com/petzl/ProProdui...roduitAssocie= great tool.
    very useful and almost error free, no "G" so we can't use it. Petzl said it is fine for pickoffs.

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    The I'D works very well for pick offs. I have used it many times for this. It has a NFPA L rating but Petzl states that you can go up to a 550lb load in exceptional circumstances. After speaking directly with the head Petzl rep, I was told that rescue is what they meant by exceptional circumstance. The device was primarily designed for the rope access community where it could be operated continually, all day, everyday. After hundreds of tests, they recognized that the device worked very well for pick offs and placed the exception to the 150kg SWL in the instructions.

    The I'D also works very well in a haul system. You can lower your rescuer to the patient, lock the ID, build a haul system through the device to pick off the patient, and then lower the rescue load to the ground. The I'D acts as a ratchet pulley and ,akes for a very fast, simple pick off.

    For the teams that insist on only G rated equipment, Petzl is designing a G rated I'D. I have had the opportunity to test a prototype and I think you will like it. It should be available in 2006.

    Pat Rhodes has a great section in his book, "Urban Technical Rescue", about teams who insist on using only G rated equipment instead of understanding when and why to use peices of gear. You can see this part at:
    http://www.rescueresponse.com/store/product142.html
    Sometimes, in order to make an operation idiot proof, you must remove the idiot!

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    Quote Originally Posted by resqtek
    ....Pat Rhodes has a great section in his book, "Urban Technical Rescue", about teams who insist on using only G rated equipment instead of understanding when and why to use peices of gear. You can see this part at:
    http://www.rescueresponse.com/store/product142.html
    Great excerpt from the book. Spot on. I've personally been in a winter (e.g., snow/ice high angle) demo situation where team A understands what Pat is talking about and team B has no clue and builds the Rubegoldberg (sp?) solution that takes 4x the time that team A does with a safe solution born from experience and understanding.

    It's the kind of in-your-face comparison that is pretty difficult to ignore.....

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    I agree in theory with some of the remarks made within the Pat Rhodes text excerpt. However, I do not agree with all of it.

    It should be noted that not all rescue teams have the financial backing to provide a specific piece of hardware for a specific task. I see nothing wrong with a rescue team pruchasing only G rated equipment and 1/2' NFPA rope at a minimum. In my department (which is fairly large) we do not have the funding to provide light use and general use equipment. We provide USAR capability in addition to basic rescue services. There are more times that we need the General use items vs. light use. Therefore, we do not purchase light use equipment.

    While NFPA as a body is a consensus standard, it is a standard of our peers. This means prudent knowledgable people are creating a basis that one can follow. Your right in that NFPA 1983 is a manufacturers standard, however, it is well recognized in the rescue community that a Light load is equal to 300 (1 person) pounds, and a General Use load is 600 pounds (2 person). Additionally, I believe NFPA does referance a 15:1 safety factor for life safety ropes in the 1500 standard. In our litagous society I would not stray too far from the road that NFPA has created. Do you think an attorney would not bring up NFPA in the event of an accident?

    Additionally, as an instructor we can show a student the numbers, do the math and prove to them why a light duty piece of equipment is OK. How many students retain this information a year from now? 2 years from now? What they remember is that you said the Petzel I'd can be used in a pick-off. They won't remember the part when you said "Except when..." Not to knock the integrity of any manufacturer but there is a reason why they use words such as "exceptional circumstances"

    Now that I have said all that...I also firmly believe in common sense and being proficient in your job. In this line of business sometimes you have take "calculated" risks.

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    NFPA does not reference a 15:1 safety factor anywhere. This was discussed at great length at the International Technical Rescue Symposium in Fort Collins, Co this past november. In attendance were a few of the important people on the NFPA technical committees. The rescue community in general is way off base on the NFPA requirements. This is a result of two major problems. #1 - The NFPA standards change so regularly that manufacturers and instructors have a difficult time keeping up. #2 - There are too many instructors simply regurgitating what someone else has told them.

    I don't mean any disrespect, jmatthe, but your comment regarding the 15:1 is a good example of folklore passed down from one instructor to another. As an instructor, I don't like to assume the NFPA states something. I look it up and find out for sure.

    As for cost, if you are able to purchase a multi purpose device like the ID, you can save alot of money. You are also able to improve efficiency which will improve safety.
    Sometimes, in order to make an operation idiot proof, you must remove the idiot!

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    I did take it as a little disrespect. Your reference to floklore either shows your young in age or you do not know what the standards read when they were first issued. Your initial post is correct. You are extremely proficient in reproducing the NFPA numbers. However, there is some background to a few of those numbers which bear some importance.

    I must disagree with your "folklore comment" concerning the 15:1 safety ratio. A general use rope has a MBS of 8992 lbs or 9,000 lbs to round it off. It is accepted that a Two person rescue load is 600 pounds (Note the G rated auxiliary equipment). You are correct in that this was from the past standard, however, it has become a universal load estimate. Thus giving the user a 15:1 safety ratio. 600 x 15 = 9,000. This may be old or new, as I do not have the 1983 or 1500 standard in front of me. It may not say directly manufacturers must follow have 15:1 ratio, but as an accepted practice with relation to load estimates one does.

    You are correct in that the standards do change. However, I assure you that at some point in time the manufactures did have a safety margin to follow based on NFPA recommendations, and this is where 15:1 came from. How else could a MBS be determined? A Max. working load and a safety factor would need to be identified to write a manufacturers standard for the MBS. I doubt NFPA said "I think 8,992 should be enough."

    I looked up the Sterling rope you mentioned. The 1/2" rope is a General rated rope and states a two-person load. I guess what I am saying is without a method to logically determine a safety factor for manufacturers to follow there is no logic behind any of the numbers you throw out. (With concern to rope)

    One other point of reference. The safety ratio question is on International Fire Service Accredidation Congress (IFSAC) Firefighter 1 and 2 exams. This is a national certifcation test used by many states and based on IFSTA material. Again, I have confidence in the folks at IFSTA that they are not feeding us a line of BS.
    Last edited by jmatthe2; 12-20-2005 at 10:35 PM.

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    The fact that this is a question on a nationally recognized exam only proves the depth of misunderstanding within the fire service. The only place where the 600lb load is mentioned is for Auxilliary Equipment System components. And within this, the MBS for various peices of equipment ranges from 5000lbf to 8992lbf. So clearly the 15:1 rule is not as rigid as thought. I am well aware of the original versions of the standard and the intent of them. I am also well aware of the hard work done by the technical committee to corresct many of the problems with the standard. At the meetings I attended this fall everyone felt that the biggest challenge is trying to get the general fire service population up to date.

    ASTM F32 is another source that more clearly defines this stuff. The committees are made up of a lot of the same people who comprise the NFPA technical committtees. Perhaps you should check it out.

    I strive to be a diligent instructor who stays on top of the latest information and I insist students understand why we do thing the way we do instead of simply doing what the last guy told us to do. If being diligent and competent gives the impression that I am young then I beleive you have just paid great complement to the young and in contrast, great insult to the experienced.
    Sometimes, in order to make an operation idiot proof, you must remove the idiot!

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    Quote Originally Posted by resqtek
    NFPA does not reference a 15:1 safety factor anywhere... The rescue community in general is way off base on the NFPA requirements... 15:1 is a good example of folklore passed down from one instructor to another.
    Quote Originally Posted by resqtek
    The fact that this is a question on a nationally recognized exam only proves the depth of misunderstanding within the fire service. The only place where the 600lb load is mentioned is for Auxilliary Equipment System components.
    Sorry, ResQTek, but it ain't folklore. You're right that part of the problem is that NFPA standards change so often, but I would lay that on NFPA and not on the frontline firefighters who are trying to work within accepted standards.

    I believe it was the 1995 edition of NFPA 1983 that stated in chapter 4-1.1.2: “Rope designed to have a maximum working load of a least 600 lbf (1.34 kN) shall be designated as a class two-person life safety rope.

    If you look at the same chapter under 4-1.2.1 it states: “The maximum working load for class one- and two-person rope shall be expressed in pounds and be calculated by dividing the new rope minimum breaking strength as specified in 5-1.1 or 5-1.2, as applicable, by a factor of not less than 15.

    Then if you go to chapter 5-1.2 in short, it says that a two-person rope shall not have a breaking strength of less than 9000 lbf.

    600 lbs x factor of 15 = 9,000 lbs. That's as clear a statement of a 15:1 SF as I've seen.

    And, yes, NFPA did remove those references in the later versions of 1983, but they didn't erase the human memory of those very-well drilled in standards.

    And I believe that part of what made that old 15:1 life-safety rope standard so "memorable" was that it was such a drastic deviation from previously accepted standards within mountain rescue and other predecessor disciplines of 10:1 (or even 8:1 in Australia).

    - Robert
    Last edited by Riversong; 01-31-2006 at 05:51 PM.
    aVERT - a Vertical Emergency Response Training
    To Avert Disaster in the Vertical Environment

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    I just don't understand why, in a community full of brilliant people, we have such a hard time adapting to a new standard. It is a serious problem that nationally recognized training academies are still teaching stuff from old versions. It is certainly not the fault of the frontline firefighters as we have enough training in other areas to occupy our time. We, the trainers, are the ones responsible for the confusion every time we mention a 15:1 SSSF. It has been 5 years, lets move on.

    There was some excellent discussion this year at ITRS regarding this issue. I think you would have liked it. We had an opportunity to discuss some of these problems with some of the 1983 committee members.
    Sometimes, in order to make an operation idiot proof, you must remove the idiot!

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    I believe that discussing the 15:1 Safety ratio gives a very good lesson to the student and I certainly don't see any confusion in it. It allows them to apply the application of an acceptable load in comparison to the strength of the rope or other components.

    It also gives a little history on where some of the numbers originated. I think it would be foolish to just tell a student this is how it is because the standard says so. I would prefer to be armed with background information.

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    I agree jmatthe, but there is obviously still some confusion created in some groups by this. There is nothing wrong with discussing the 15:1 and where it came from but it is essential that the students are made aware of the rules that apply today. Unfortunately we are a little behind on the last part.
    Sometimes, in order to make an operation idiot proof, you must remove the idiot!

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    Quote Originally Posted by resqtek
    but there is obviously still some confusion created in some groups by this. There is nothing wrong with discussing the 15:1 and where it came from but it is essential that the students are made aware of the rules that apply today.
    I feel that the above statement is what creates confusion among practioners. I believe you said earlier that NFPA 1983 is a manufacturer's standard, not a user standard.

    Which means it does not offer any RULES or even standards for use.

    If an instructor, or an instructional institution wants to teach a 15:1 SF for life-line (not a SSSF for the entire system), there's no reason why they shouldn't - unless they're teaching mountain rescue in which such a SF is overkill and could both slow down response time and result in rescuer exhaustion.

    Thankfully, there are no national "rules" for the specific application of rope rescue technique, and each instructor is free to offer an appropriate set of SOPs for a particular audience.

    Let's hope it stays this way.

    - Robert
    aVERT - a Vertical Emergency Response Training
    To Avert Disaster in the Vertical Environment

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    So Robert, you have no problem with instructors quoting old versions of standards and instructing students that these are the standards to follow? I know you don't believe that. All I'm saying is the fact that reputable training colleges and companies are doing this is evidence of the depth of this problem. If you want a 15:1 safety factor, go ahead. But don't state that the NFPA is the reason. That is where this whole disagreement began. Someone wanted info on the standards and came here to look for it. It is important that we, as a group, help that person get the correct information.

    Apologies for the word "rules", I knew when I wrote it that it was a problem but had to rush out the door to work.
    Sometimes, in order to make an operation idiot proof, you must remove the idiot!

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    Quote Originally Posted by resqtek
    ...instructors quoting old versions of standards and instructing students that these are the standards to follow? the fact that reputable training colleges and companies are doing this is evidence of the depth of this problem.
    I agree that no one should be teaching that NFPA mandates a 15:1 SF for lifeline. And it's not clear to me that reputable training colleges are doing that:

    Quote Originally Posted by jmatthe2
    The safety ratio question is on International Fire Service Accredidation Congress (IFSAC) Firefighter 1 and 2 exams.
    "The safety ratio question" might not be "what SF does NFPA mandate?" It might be "what is an appropriate SF for fire servcice lifeline?" Does anyone here know how the question is worded?

    If you want a 15:1 safety factor, go ahead. But don't state that the NFPA is the reason.
    While we shouldn't state that the NFPA mandates this as a user standard, or even mandates it anymore as a manufacturer's standard, the reason that 15:1 ever entered the field IS the NFPA, and that needs to be acknowledged. The NFPA chose to change decades of accepted practice in rope rescue by doing so, and now they can't seem to undo the damage.

    - Robert
    aVERT - a Vertical Emergency Response Training
    To Avert Disaster in the Vertical Environment

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    Default Two basic rules...?!?!?!.

    Would any instructor on here disagree that the most basic rules of teaching any rope rescue system boils down to two things - and they are:

    1) FIRST AND FOREMOST >IS IT SAFE<???

    and

    2) DOES IT WORK EFFICENTLY???


    JUST when you think you have built an idiot proof system, along comes a smarter idiot.

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    Quote Originally Posted by herbroberson
    Would any instructor on here disagree that the most basic rules of teaching any rope rescue system boils down to two things - and they are:

    1) FIRST AND FOREMOST >IS IT SAFE<???
    and
    2) DOES IT WORK EFFICENTLY???
    I would expand that a bit and rearrange it as well.

    Any technical solution to a problem needs to be both:
    1) Effective - it gets the job done
    and
    2) Efficient - it gets the job done with the least expenditure of resources

    I would argue that safety is inherent in the first and complicated by the second.

    If it gets the job done, then it was done safely.
    Efficiency can sometimes compete with safety (using too few or meager resources), but so can inefficiency (using too many, too heavy, or too complicated resources).

    I believe that we tend to over-emphasize safety to the detriment of effectiveness and efficiency.

    For a more thorough approach to this issue, check out the article I wrote for Advanced Rescue Technology (which, infortunately, is not available on their website, but) which is available here:

    Is Fail-Safe Really Safe?
    aVERT - a Vertical Emergency Response Training
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    Thumbs down Safety rope lighting

    Rope Light protection security lead lighting wire looks like PVC telephone wire, its surface is Colorful thermostable PVC tube, and there is KPT patent product inside: flexible neon wire. It emits continuous light and no radiative heat, its consumption of electricity energy is 50-70% of LED, 20-40% of bunch lamp.

    Use field: traffic security sign and indication, Night Rescue equipment ,exit passage and stairway exit lead, temporary outdoor warning sign, shop centre/subway/coal mine and other places succor, concert lead line. Description
    1) Easy to use, save energy, can light for 4-5 hours with battery once. It has a handle, can be under AC220V/110V or DC12V in car.
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    3) CE and RoHs, good for environment and health.
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    Technology index:
    Diameter: 5.0mm and 8.0mm. Color: Yellow, Orange, Transparent (blue-green) Light intensity: 1-20 cd/m2
    Work current: 0.3A/m Voltage of lighting inner cord: 120V, 1500Hz Isolation voltage: 4000V and up.
    Capacitance: 4nF/m with on/off switch. Average lifetime: 1000 hours Environmental temperature: -200C to 600C
    Input condition: DC12V,3400mA, rechargeable storage battery, 5 hours for recharge, 4-5 hours for work.
    Recharge time: 500 times. lead acid storage battery. The burning point of surface PVC tube: 7000C
    The visible distance of lighting: 30-100m The visible time of The afterglow lighting: 2-5 hours
    Luminescent density: 0.001Cd/m2 Execution standard :TFUJ 001-2008

    www.kpt.net.cn

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    Smile

    I'm a volunteer firefighter and the training officer of a mountain rescue team. I've been involved in mountain rescue much longer than firefighting, so I'm probably biased. Our volunteer FD rope team was trained by me; as a result our approach to NFPA "G" and "L" is to permit the use of any equipment that maintains a minimum 10:1 static system safety factor (SSSF). The 10:1 SSSF is the time-tested standard used by the most reputable rope rescue practitioners in North America.

    For example, we sometimes use 28 kN aluminum carabiners stamped with the NFPA "L" for main line applications, since the SSSF of these carabiners for a 2 kN loading is 28 kN/2 kN = 14, which is more than adequate.

    But, this is not the full story. The above example is for a 2 kN load, i.e. the static loading you would expect if you hung a rescue load directly off the carabiner. Now, what if we wanted to use that carabiner in a directional anchor with fairly acute change-of-direction angle, or in a highline system? In these situations the resultant force on the carabiner can exceed 2 kN, and thus the SSSF will drop below 10:1.

    For example, if the change-of-direction angle in a directional anchor is 60 degrees, the force exerted on the carabiner is actually 3.4 kN for a load that weighs 2 kN, and thus the SSSF will be 28 kN/3.4 kN = 8.2. In this case you might want to use a NFPA "G" carabiner to maintain a minimum 10:1 SSSF.

    The point I'm trying to make here is that in order to maintain maximum flexibility and safety a team needs to understand both the systems it uses and the loadings on these systems. The members of my team know where it is OK to use an "L" carabiner and where it is not. This is because I have held them to that standard.

    On to ropes:

    The typical NFPA "G" compliant rope has 40 kN of unknotted tensile strength. If you apply a 30% strength reduction for a knot, the SSSF for a 2 kN load is 40 kN * 0.7/2 kN = 14. If you apply a 40% strength reduction for a knot, the SSSF drops to 12. If you apply a 50% reduction in strength for a knot, the SSSF drops to 10.

    The point I'm trying to make here is that, unless you know the strength reduction due to the knot, you do not really know what the safety factor of your rope is. How many of us know the actual strength reduction due to a knot? Well, I won't claim I do. I can estimate the strength reduction, but I really don't know what it is. So, IMHO, it is irrelevant whether NFPA verbage implies a safety factor for "G" compliant ropes, because the SSSF in real applications is unknown.

    Mountain rescue teams prefer to use what would be considered NFPA "L" ropes for all rescue applications in order to save equipment weight while walking uphill. Given the typical 30 kN tensile strength of these ropes, a 40% reduction in tensile strength due to a knot, and a 2 kN load, the SSSF is 30 kN*0.6/2 kN = 9, which is certainly less than 10.

    So, what gives here? I don't really know. My guess is that you do a full risk-benefit analysis, and weigh the risk of having a SSSF slightly below 10:1 against the risk of being slowed down by heavier equipment. Any input would be appreciated.

    It is interesting to note that the 10:1 SSSF might be more conservative than one thinks. Examination of British Columbia belay competency drop test results with the tandem Prusik belay indicate that peak impact forces rarely exceed 10 kN. Given a "G" rope and a 40% reduction in tensile strength due to a knot, the "dynamic system safety factor" would be 40 kN * 0.6/10 kN = 2.4. Given a "L" rope and a 40% reduction in tensile strength due to a knot, the "dynamic system safety factor" would be 30 kN * 0.6/10 kN = 1.8.

    My interpretation of these results is that the knotted "G" rope is 2.4 times stronger than it needs to be to withstand a "worst case" shock-loading, and the knotted "L" rope is 1.8 times stronger than it has to be to withstand a a "worst case" shock-loading.

    Thus, IMHO, both ropes are OK for a full rescue load. My FD team uses the NFPA "G" rope because that is what our state administrative code mandates that we use, and my mountain rescue team uses NFPA "L" ropes.

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