Escape Rope Performance: Working at Elevated Temperatures and Under Dynamic Loads

Issue 7 and Volume 160.

BY GAVIN HORN, ERNEST TIMMONS, AND PETER KURATH EMERGENCY ESCAPES FROM BURNING BUILDINGS necessitate that firefighters have complete confidence in their equipment, especially if it must be deployed from an involved room. In many scenarios, these escape efforts involve the use of rope systems as life-critical components. The need for a more detailed understanding of escape rope performance is justified in light of the January 2005 incident in New York City where two firefighters were fatally injured and four others critically injured.1 The most common benchmark for the design and performance standards for rope and rope equipment used by fire and rescue services is NFPA 1983, Standard on Fire Service Life Safety Rope and System Components.2 The minimum breaking strength (MBS) of virgin rope (tested at room temperature) is required to be 3,034 pounds force (lbf), and rope material must have a minimum melting temperature of 400°F to qualify as…

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