Another Use for Plastic Jug: Keeps Hoisting Rope Ready

Another Use for Plastic Jug: Keeps Hoisting Rope Ready


Before an engine company can confine and extinguish a fire, it must get hand lines into position. If the fire is above the first floor, this becomes more difficult. The line may be stretched up the stairwell, fire escape or ladder. Or, it is sometimes necessary to haul a hand line up the outside of the building, using a rope.

The officer will order a rope stretch if he determines it will be the fastest way to get water on the fire.

One method of stretching up the outside of a building uses the roof rope—preferably a 3/8-inch nylon rope 75 feet long. The nylon rope is lighter, easier to carry and easier for tying knots.


In New York City, Engine 88 carries nylon rope in a modified 1 1/2-gallon plastic bleach bottle. A hole at the neck of the container and opposite the handle is cut just large enough for a hand to pass through. The cap is discarded and one end of the rope is inserted through the top. Then we neatly lay the rope in a circular form inside the container, guiding the rope through the cut hole. The last 6 or 8 inches should be tied around the handle using a simple knot. This is so the end won’t have to be fished out when put into use.

When the rope stretch has been chosen by the officer, he and the nozzleman will carry the rope up a ladder or fire escape to a safe point near the fire, usually a window or the fire escape balcony. The officer must also take note of the volume and direction of travel of the fire so he does not place himself in a perilous position. He will then specify one of two methods of getting the rope to the street, either the lowering method or the drop method.

The lowering method is used for a stfetch that is low in height, such as a taxpayer roof or the first two or three stories of a building. We untie the knot and play out the rope from the top of the container. This avoids a large amount of rope getting tangled in the street. The drop method is used when stretching to the fourth floor or higher. We again untie the knot and then pull several feet of rope from the top. Either holding the loose end firmly or tying it to a substantial object, we drop the whole container to the street. The rope should play out from the container on the way down. There is no need to add weight to the container because the weight of the rope itself should carry the rope smoothly down to the street.

Ready to hoist

Once the end is in the street, a clove hitch and binder is tied on the line 2 feet below the nozzle. The line is now ready to be hoisted. One or two fire fighters should position themselves in windows or on fire escape balconies at intermediate levels in the path of the stretch. This removes the nozzleman’s burden of pulling all the weight of the hose. One fire fighter stays in the street to flake out hose from the bed and to make sure the others at the point of operation have sufficient line before it is charged.

The officer will advise the lower fire fighters in the stretch when enough line is on the fire floor. After the line is charged, the rest of the company follows the line to the point of operation. There they join the officer and the nozzleman in fighting the fire. All personnel should be equipped with SCBA.

The rope system can also be used to place a life line in position. Tying the end to a doorknob at the point of entry and carrying the container into the fire area will allow the rope to play out, forming a life line that can be used in rescue operations or in smoky atmospheres.

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