Mayday Monday: Search Rope

Mayday Monday

By Tony Carroll

This month’s Mayday Monday is coming to you on the first Tuesday of September, as yesterday the staff here at Mayday Monday HQ was able to enjoy the long Labor Day weekend.

RELATED: My Rope Is Your Rope

Search Rope Management

Search Rope: Exiting the Structure

This month’s line-of-duty death incident occurred back in December of 2003. Firefighter Thomas Brick of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) died inside of a warehouse while searching for the seat of the fire. Firefighter Brick was part of the inside truck crew who were moving ahead of other crews trying to find the best path for the engine to stretch their hoseline. Conditions deteriorated and the call was made to exit the floor. Unfortunately, Brick did not make it out. The NIOSH report (find it here) listed this as one of its recommendations:

Use guidelines/ropes securely attached to permanent objects and/or a bright, narrow-beamed light at all entry portals to a structure to guide fire fighters during emergency egress

Have you trained for the use of a search rope? Are you ready to deploy it in a fire scenario? A RIT scenario? This month, we will practice this skill. Here’s the drill:

1. Place an SCBA, or other object, somewhere in the firehouse. Preferably, this object should be in the middle of a big room, somewhere that the search crew must come off the wall to locate.

2. Have a crew of 3, with blacked out face pieces, gather needed equipment, including a search rope, and begin their search for the object.

3. Once the crew locates the object, they must secure the rope close by and proceed to remove it.

4. The drill leader should periodically check with the crew and have them report their air status: Full, Half, Low, etc.

Please, get out and practice with your search rope. This is a low frequency event but, usually a high-risk scenario. As with every Mayday Monday, send pictures of you and your crew performing  the drill/skill to

Tony Carroll is a battalion chief with the District of Columbia Fire & EMS Department.

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