FDNY Replaces Safety Ropes

October 31, 2005 -- After recalling hundreds of safety ropes because one of them frayed during a training exercise last month, the FDNY said yesterday it has fixed the problem and expects to have improved ropes by December.

Officials said the new ropes will have a U-bolt, called the EXO, attached to the pulley system, which helps fire fighters descend. The U-bolt will have a track to keep the rope in place so it doesn't fray.

"We believe this change will correct the problem that we encountered," FDNY spokeswoman Virginia Lam.

A prototype has been sent to Pretzl, the French company that made the defective ropes, so it can add the new feature.

Officials said the city will not have to pay any extra costs over the original $11 million price for equipment and training.

Fire experts have tested the new ropes more than 1,000 times.

"This includes testing slides where firefighters have intentionally tried to jam the system," Lam said. During these slides, no jams were reported.

Once the ropes arrive, firefighters will test them further before they are sent into the field for use. The failed batch of ropes were tested more than 7,500 times before a problem was detected.

Firefighters had been working without safety ropes since 2000.

But after Lt. Curtis Meyran and Lt. John Bellew (left) jumped from a window to their deaths in a Jan. 23 Bronx blaze, the city ordered new ones.

Last month, just hours before the city honored Meyran and Bellew in a solemn ceremony, the FDNY recalled the ropes.

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