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  1. #1
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    Default personal escape rope

    okay I know this has probably been discussed already but can't find thread for it. Q: What do you use & pro's and con's of your system, also how many systems have you tried before you settled upon your current system.
    For my FDNY brothers, what's your take on the EXO. I listen to Jeff Cool's braodcast and he didn't think that the EXO was the answer but never explained why. I was lucky enough to be able to take the bailout class at the Rock, thanks to Capt's Hayes and Foy and thought that the device was great and easy to use but don't really have enough info about other systems to judge. Any info that can be passed on, would be greatly appreciated.
    Or if someone knows how to find the thread for this, that's cool too
    Thanks


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    On my old vollie department,the "in"thing to get is a 20 foot piece of tubular webbing,double it up and tie a figure eight knot into the ends for a 10' self rescue rope.
    They were counting noses to see how many rescue loops they'd need when I left.This is simply 5 loops of webbing sewn up like the Olympic rings.You can get one around each limb and use the fifth to drag the downed FF to safety,use the loops to climb down a window after bracing a hallegan in the corner,pretty much whatever comes to mind.
    There's supposed to be a company that charges $500 for them but I don't see the point when you can buy enough webbing at the local True Value(tm)to cut and sew up yourself for a lower cost.

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    Default info

    I attended a FAST class in Gwinett Co. Ga just out side of Atlanta. Their we were taught to save our brother as well as ourselves. From Head first ladder bailouts, to rigging up your own harness out of webbing and going out of a window and other techniques. I carry 40 ft of rope, and 15 ft of 1 in tube webbing in my gear. I based the length upon our response area. It just all depends on where ya are I guess.

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    As I stated before time is of the essence when you are in a bail out situation. The less steps in the evolution the better. A prerigged system with a desending device attached to a personal harness is probably your best bet.
    The FDNY PSS is good , but I think they could make it better. I think they need to add a inline knot to the system with a carabiner attached. This could be used if you have a substanial object to tie off to. I know FDNY teaches that you throw two half hitches to the hook if you have a substanial object, but as I stated earlier time is of the essence when you are in a bail out situation.It wouldn't take much to add this to the system and I know some departments are doing this.
    As far as using webbing to make a harness out of during a bail out, it's not going to work. Believe when I say this. You don't have time when fire is lapping at you.
    The hand belay or body belay is out also. You will not be able to control the rope after your gloves are wet and fire is at your back. I know first hand of this and it may work in a training enviroment, but it will not work in a job.
    Just the other day six firefighters bailed out in Ottawa, Ontario. They fell to a concerte surface 30 some feet below. These Brothers are lucky to be alive and if they had a PSS , this may have been avoided. I wish a full recovery to my Brothers in Ottawa .
    I will continue to try to educate the fire service on the importance of the PSS and I will try to get the NFPA to change the protective clothing standards and implement the need for a personal harness and personal rope for all firefighters.

    J COOL
    Last edited by RESCUECOOL; 02-17-2007 at 08:56 PM.

  5. #5
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    Hey Jeff, thanks for posting on here. Hope things are going well with you. Although I've never had to bail out, and hope to god that I never have to,there have been times where things got hairy and your right, that is not the time to start building a harness or system to get you out of the situation your in. The inline knot w/carabiner makes sense. Throw it around the object and hook it with the carabiner. Like I said before, I really liked the EXO system and I'm leaning towards that and I'm going to keep that inline knot and carabiner in mind. Do you know which dept is usuing this setup right now. I'd like to see how they configured it. Also does this void the safety parameters as it pertains to Petzl. On behalf of this FF, keep up the great work your doing, we need to start looking after ourselves because no one else. Thanks again

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    I would prefer if the bag wasn't on my hip....but rather on my lumbar. With the radio and the bag....it adds to my profile and adds weight to one side of my body rather than evenly distributing it along my body.
    IACOJ Member

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    Jeff,
    What about the Gemtar harness that the rescues and trucks wear. What advantages/disadvantages do they provide? Do the problems with the systems you see deal with anchoring, decending, or both?

    Thanks

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    Quote Originally Posted by VinnieB View Post
    I would prefer if the bag wasn't on my hip....but rather on my lumbar. With the radio and the bag....it adds to my profile.
    What if they added pockets for your pants, and you stuck the rope bag there? Do you think that would help?

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    Quote Originally Posted by CTJAKE View Post
    What if they added pockets for your pants, and you stuck the rope bag there? Do you think that would help?
    No, I dont think so. Having pockets and filling them up adds weight to your legs and will quickly sap you out when you climb stairs. There is a system out there that has our set up in a lumbar bag.....but I am sure there are a few nomial factors as to why we have the hip bag.
    IACOJ Member

  10. #10
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    What is the smallest diameter rope that can safely lower a single person in an emergency situation?

  11. #11
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    Here in Portland we have the MSA system. 75' in the lumbar of our SCBA. It has made the pack less comfortable but it is a pretty nice system. The things I dont like about it are the snaps that hold the beener in place are hard to open with or without gloves on and they seem to think that we will have time to measure off the distance between the sill and the descender before we bail out. Its probably not the best system out there but at least they gave us something.

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    I recently had a piece of nomex stitched into the inside bottom flap of my coat . I wear morning pride so there is the small flap on the bottom that tapers on the sides.. Basically it is stitched sides and bottom so the top is open like a pocket. I also took a couple of the replacement snaps that are used for connecting your pants to your suspenders and set them into the top so the pocket wouldnt flap open and risk losing the rope.. the rope stays laid on itself with the biner on top .. It also sits low and under you so sitting and riding the truck is not at all uncomfortable.

    I had read about this somewhere and someone on the job that does stitching had some extra material so i tried it.. I wear the gemtor harness and found that i didnt allways take the rope bag with me on all calls . i would grab it based on the run , which defeats the whole principle of having the ability at all times to bail in the event you should have to.

    After reading about the ny sitauation and others like it i swore i would try to be more cognizant of the potential for the situation to occur and now i have it all on , all the time .. I hope i never have to use it , but if i do not only will i be able to get out, but it will be nice to see the response of all the too cool types that would rather talk **** about all the extras that "we never needed before " .

  13. #13
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    Sterling Firetech 7.5mm rope and hook

    The above is the link to the rope FDNY uses for their PSS system. The size is 50 feet at 7.5mm, I imagine that anything of smaller diameter is a bit untrustworthy.

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    Lumbar bag is out supposedly cause no more money to pay for it. I dont think I would look for the substantial object, I would just bury that hook in the sill and pray that the laws of physics keep it in place! The only issue would be in the instance that you have multiple guys bailing at the same time and the lack of space and hooks that COULD come free. I like the idea of having the biner already there, I guess you could just butterfly knot one in than just wrap it around the working end of the rope.

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    I didn't feel that the FDNY PSS added to my profile that much to make a difference. I too carry my radio in a harness and everthing felt comfortable but that's my opinion. I do like the idea of having a carabiner on a butterfly knot ready to go if you had to capture something other than the sill. I guess as long as you have a system that works, can be easily put in to service in minimal time and your comfortable with it, that's a start. Hopefully more time will go into this and better changes and systems will be available for us

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    What would be the best knot to secure a carabiner in line? Butterfly? How far away from the hook would be the best spot for the beener?

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    I would imagine that you would want your butterfly knot or whatever knot you decide to use close to the hook. When you reach down and grab the hook to activate the system you probably don't want to be pulling out rope to get to your knot and carabiner,plus you probably want to have as much rope as possible when making a desend. For the FDNY guys are you allowed to make any modification to your systems? Are there any possible changes coming down the line or is this pretty much it for now

  18. #18
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    Default Some People Still Don't Get It

    Fire department not sold on personal-safety ropes
    Wouldn’t have helped at recent blaze, chief says
    Bruce Ward, The Ottawa Citizen
    Published: Thursday, February 15, 2007

    Personal-safety ropes would not have aided the five firefighters forced to jump from the top floor of a burning three-storey townhouse on Monday, says the Ottawa fire department’s chief of special operations.
    “They had seconds to get out of that building,” Kim Ayotte said Thursday. “You have to have the time to tie a safety rope to something, and make sure it’s good and be able to to deploy it. I don’t think they had the time in this case. They were basically running for their lives. I don’t want to draw a parallel with safety ropes because I really don’t think it would have made a difference.”
    The personal-safety rope system was developed by the Fire Department of New York following a tragic fire in the Bronx in January 2005. Two firefighters jumped to their deaths from the fifth floor of a burning building after they became trapped by fire in an illegally subdivided apartment.
    The self-evacuation system enables a firefighter to quickly escape through a window should he or she become trapped by fire.
    The system, which weighs about 2.6 kilograms, attaches to a firefighter’s bunker pants and includes a forged steel hook, heat-resistant rope, descent control device and harness bag. The hook can penetrate brick, if necessary, to allow a firefighter to anchor himself or herself before heading out the window.
    Chief Ayotte said the department has debated the merits of personal-safety ropes.
    “We have considered and continue to consider whether or not that’s an appropriate tool for firefighters in this city. There are differences between New York City and our city with regard to the types of buildings and their size.”
    But a union official for Ontario’s 8,500 firefighters says safety ropes should be standard equipment for all firefighters.
    “I would think that, yes, it should be part of every firefighter’s gear,” said Daryl Stephenson, health and safety spokesman for the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association.
    “You are issued protective equipment — helmet, boots, gloves, balaclava — to protect you from the fire. But when you have to escape the fire sometimes you can’t exit a fire the way you entered, obviously. You find the quickest way out. And you have seconds to make that decision. If you had the rope with you, you could be out the window and down the rope pretty quick.”
    Mr. Stephenson saw a demonstration of the New York system at a conference he attended last spring.
    “It looked like a good system, the hook just snaps onto any immovable object in the room and you’re out the window and down the rope. Each firefighter has to be trained with the new system before they can carry it.”
    Mr. Stephenson said he is not aware of any Ontario fire department that supplies personal-safety ropes as standard gear.
    “That doesn’t mean some of the guys don’t put their own system together. I’m aware that guys are looking after themselves, they carry rope in their bunker gear. They’re putting it together at their own cost. Cost is the key word. Departments have a budget to follow.”
    Each personal-safety rope system costs about $350 U.S.
    Chief Ayotte said the five Ottawa firefighters had to jump for their lives from the Forward Avenue townhouse.
    “Their only means of escape — back down through the stairs — was completely heat and smoke-filled with superheated gases. That basically blocked their only means of escape. And when they got back up the stairs, the top was as hot as the bottom. So they had no choice but to find a window.”
    He praised Lieut. John Chatterton, the only one of the five firefighters who was seriously injured.
    He remains in hospital with a broken right elbow, fractured femur and second-degree burns to his back.
    “Part of the training is to recognize another means of escape as you go into separate rooms. The lieutenant, to his credit, did remember seeing that window, and he was able to lead his crew there.
    “Unfortunately, he suffered the most serious injuries.”


    I can't believe that Chief of Special Operations in Ottawa still doesn't get it, in regards to Personal Safety Systems. As I stated before and I will say it again we spend thousands of dollars on protective gear to send firefighters into a fire to save lives and property. Why shouldn't we spend a few more hundred dollars on a escape system that would allow a firefighter a safe way to bail out if the need arises. How much is a firefighters life worth to you? To me it is a no brainer and I will continue to educate the fire service on the importance of a escape system and try to get the NFPA to put standards in effect for a escape system. If you get a chance please take a look a this months issue of Firehouse magazine. I did an interview about personal ropes and the lack of concern in the fire service.
    It can and will happen again and again . Please be a proactive fire department and get your department a escape system before its to late.

  19. #19
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    Unfortunately Jeff, that's how the fire service works, it's about money and how to save it.Untill we take it upon ourselves to demand safety devices and get the higher ups on board, things like this will continue to happen. You called it.

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    Jeff, Thank you for posting here as a very credible source on personal safety/escape systems, and for continuing to advocate their importance for firefighter's everywhere. It is inexplicable for department's to continue to resist our efforts to ensure that firefighter's be given, and trained in the use of a device that could very possibly prevent another LODD.
    A thing that strikes me as ironic is that most department's will train us in firefighter safety and survival, yet they will not supply us with the necessary tools to ensure our safety and survival. It is ridiculous for us to be forced into providing this added layer of safety at our own expense, and often times for some, pay for the training at their own expense.
    Personal escape sytems coupled with the proper training should be standard issue to every firefighter. So it may cost a few hundred dollars per FF, I believe it is a very small price to pay considering the alternative. I don't believe we are asking too much, we only ask that we are given the equipment that can increase our chances of survival in a dire situation, and return us home safely to our families.

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