Throw Back to Basics: Knots

By Brian Zaitz

Knots are the fundamental aspect to rope rescue, providing attachment from the rope to anchor points, rescuers, and victims. The ability to identify the needed knot as well as tie the knot will improve both safety and efficiency of the rescue scene.

The most basic of knots is the Figure 8. The family of Figure 8’s includes the Figure 8 on a bight, the Figure 8 follow-through, the Figure 8 bend, and the Double Figure 8. These knots provide many options in the rope rescue realm and have a unique function from a stopper knot on a rope line to an attachment point. The family of 8’s will accomplish almost all of your rope rescue needs.


With that said, there are other knots that are good to know for rope rescue as well as for general use. The Clove Hitch is a good knot, most familiar to people as a means to tie a halyard. The Butterfly is a great knot that provides an inline attachment point for rope rescue as well as attachment for swift water operations.

The above knots are great but they only apply to life safety and utility ropes. When dealing with webbing, it is essential to know the water knot. This simple knot is used to tie webbing together or tie webbing into a loop.

RELATED: Reeder on Basic Ropes and KnotsGrant and Stephens on Ladders, Lights, Knots, and NozzlesShupert on Rope-Based Search Techniques

Knot tying is a simple skill, but without practice, it can become rusty very quickly. Take some time and tie some knots. Your life maybe hanging on it!


Download this training bulletin as a PDF HERE (3.9 MB)

Brian ZaitzBrian Zaitz is a 14-year student of the fire service, currently assigned as the captain/training officer with the Metro West (MO) Fire Protection District. Brian is an instructor with Engine House Training, LLC as well as instructor at the St. Louis County Fire Academy.  Brian holds several degrees, including an associates in paramedic technology, a bachelors in fire science management, and a masters in human resource development. Brian is currently and accredited chief training officer and student of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program.


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