We often think of ropes and knots in connection with specialized rescue scenarios. But we’ve all been taught how to use rope to perform basic tasks on the fireground. As Tom Brennan stated in his “Random Thoughts” column, “Use the rope to hold things down, on, alongside, up, or any other thing your experience tells you.” (Fire Engineering, February, 1994, p 82). Often, we forget how useful a piece of rope in our gear can be. This week’s drill takes a look at some common knots and various uses for rope on the fireground. The objectives include the following:
- To review the procedure for inspecting utility ropes;
- To ensure that the members can competently inspect rope and log the results of that inspection; and
- To develop proficiency in knots and rope throws.
This drill covers utility rope usage only. Lifelines and rescue ropes have special care and use requirements.
You’ll need the utility ropes carried on your apparatus, personal ropes carried by firefighters, two sawhorses, a straight ladder, a basket stretcher, axes, fans, pike poles, a hose roll, and a nozzle.
Running the Drill
Howard A. Chatterton’s Volunteer Training Drills – A Year of Weekly Drills offers the following exercise for this drill. You can customize it however you wish to tailor it to your department’s requirements.
Have members remove the rope from the apparatus and inspect each one. Look for frays and cuts; open twisted ropes and inspect them for dirt and damage. Enter the results of the inspection in a company log, showing the date each rope was placed in service and the date of each inspection.
Have the members place the ladder flat across the sawhorses. Then, have them demonstrate the clove hitch and figure eight knots on the ladder by having them tie them facing the ladder, facing the ladder with eyes flossed, and back to the ladder.
Using a figure eight on a bight, have each member demonstrate attaching a rope to raise the ladder. Have each member demonstrate tying a rescue knot; then have them demonstrate tying a line to raise or lower a basket stretcher. Finally, before putting some to these knots to use in a relay drill, practice throwing the rope used for a water rescue. Place members at one end of an apparatus bay with a trash can for a target at the other end. Strive for distance and accuracy.
At the end of the drill, assemble the members into two relay teams at one end of the apparatus bay. Place a straight ladder, an ax, two hose rolls with nozzles, a pike pole, and a fan at the other end of the bay; place a rope beside each. The relay begins with a member’s tying a figure eight on a bight and placing it on the ladder for raising. The second member ties a clove hitch and a half hitch on an ax for raising. The third member ties a hitch on the hose and nozzle for raising an uncharged line. The fourth member ties a hitch on the hose and nozzle for raising a charged line. The fifth member ties a clove hitch and a half hitch on a pike pole for raising. The sixth member ties a figure eight on the fan for raising. Each time a task is completed, the member runs back and tags the next member in line. The sixth member stops the clock when he runs back across the starting line. Members can know their assignments at the starting line or be assigned when they reach the row of tools.
Other possibilities include having two teams of two members compete by having each firefighter tie three knots or two teams of three members compete by having each firefighter tie two knots.
At the drill’s conclusion, discuss what went right, what went wrong, and what should be done differently the next time.
If you have a similar drill idea and wish to share it, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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For more information on this drill, including a list of references, visit http://store.yahoo.com/pennwell/voltraindril.html to purchase Volunteer Training Drills–A Year of Weekly Drills.