Roco Rescue



Proper Training Required: Why it’s so important!

Monday, August 08, 2011

In this article, we want to provide some background on our experiences with users of rescue equipment, and why we feel proper training is so important.  In the past 30 years, we’ve had the honor of having thousands of students attend our rescue training classes.  Attitudes toward the statement “Do not use this equipment without proper training!” runs the gamut. It goes from “I never read the instructions,” to “I read, understand, and follow them to the T.” As our students come in all shapes, sizes, experience levels, attitudes, and needs, this is understandable.  However, there’s one common denominator, they have come to us for training – and that’s our critical role.

In many cases, an entire rescue team will show up for training with all their rescue gear in tow. They will then tell us that they have never received training on, nor really understand the proper use of their equipment.

So, it really boils down to this – what are the advantages of receiving training on the proper use of the equipment?

Obviously, the primary concern is safety – safety of the users and the rescue subjects. Another critical point includes using the equipment contrary to the manufacturer’s instructions, which can lead to questions of liability. While some manufacturers provide complete and “easy to understand” instructions for use of their equipment, others provide just enough to get the box open.

Note:  While it’s not an NFPA 1983 requirement, most manufacturers do include a statement concerning proper training prior to use.  In fact, there is no NFPA requirement that instructions for use be provided by the manufacturer.

Here are some important questions to consider

What are the working load limitations of the item?  If the gear is used for both planned work activities and for rescue activities, the maximum working loads may be different depending on the application.  In some cases, additional rigging configurations are required for exceptional uses and heavy loads.
What are the effects of using the equipment in a variety of configurations? Are there load multipliers involved in certain configurations that need to be addressed? What are the effects of eccentric loads on the equipment?  Many equipment items are to be used in static load applications only, and can be damaged or catastrophically fail if subjected to dynamic loads.  Oftentimes these issues are not addressed in the user manual, but may be a need to know and understand consideration.

Also, using the item as part of a system may not be covered in the user manual.  It’s important to understand this so that the equipment can be used to its full advantage – and to make sure it’s not subjected to unacceptable loads when used in a system.  Many times the user manual provides bare bones instructions for use and doesn’t cover any instruction for use as part of a system. Nor does it cover the precautions for use as part of a system.

While it seems that more and more manufacturers are moving towards pre-built, engineered systems, it’s not always feasible (or advantageous) to use a pre-built system. However, it is very common to use multiple bits of hardware, software, and rope to create a “build-as-you-go” system that’s appropriate for the job.  Without receiving the proper training on the compatibility of components used in a system, the user may be creating an unsafe condition or missing out on an opportunity for a more efficient solution. Or, miss out on the expanded use of equipment they already have in their cache.

In addition, more rescue gear is being designed to perform multiple functions.  It’s not uncommon for us to hear students say something like, “Wow, I didn’t know it could do that, too!”  Items that are put into the rescue equipment cache with the belief that it is designed to perform one function only, may be another opportunity lost.

Needless to say, we are big advocates of multifunction equipment.  This provides for a smaller, lighter, and quite possibly less expensive rescue equipment cache. It also provides the ability to adapt a given rescue plan and shift the role of the equipment from one function to another.  Typically, there are opportunities to use equipment in a manner that it can be quickly converted from one function to another as part of the plan.  Without the proper training, this may not be obvious by simply reading the user manual.

Finally, how clear is the user manual in explaining criteria for inspection and removal from service?  Depending on what’s provided by the manufacturer (i.e., text and graphics), a piece of equipment may require additional training for the proper inspection points and reasons for taking it out of service.

With that said, we hope it’s perfectly clear that the statement, “proper training is required prior to use” should be taken to heart. It always saddens us to hear of incidents where rescuers are hurt or injured while training for, or in the performance of their duties…especially when the root cause is listed as inadequate training.  Hopefully, you are seeking quality training from a reputable training institution on the proper use of your equipment.  Not just to satisfy a liability issue, but to keep your rescuers safe.  It also allows them to understand and take full advantage of the equipment in their rescue cache – keeping it safe, simple, and effective!
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Cleaning Your Rope…Here’s What the Experts Have to Say

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

We are often asked, “How should I maintain my rescue equipment – especially rope?”

So, we went to our friends at CMC and PMI for the answers.  Keep in mind, however, you should always follow your rope manufacturer’s care and cleaning instructions.

CMC offers their rope cleaning suggestions: Rinse off muddy or especially dirty rope or web with water. Scrub any tough spots with a nylon bristle brush. Soak the rope in a tub of water with a mild detergent.

Woolite or other mild detergents that are safe for nylon may also be used. The rope can be rinsed using a rope washer or placed directly into the washing machine. Washing rope and webbing in a top-loading washing machine is the easiest method. Run the empty machine through a cycle with plain water to rinse any harsh detergents from the machine before starting. Use cold water and the appropriate amount of detergent.

Double the rope (or web) and “daisy-chain” it. This keeps single lines from tangling or getting caught in the agitator. Put the rope in the machine and wash on the gentle cycle. If the rope bag needs washing, put it in with the rope. During the rinse cycle, add a small amount of Downy fabric softener. (No more than one ounce of Downy to 3 gallons of water.) The fabric softener replaces the lubricant the rope loses during use and washing.  Air dry the rope and webbing in a cool, shaded place. Do NOT dry nylon products in the sun because of the damaging effects on nylon from prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays. If necessary, ropes can be stuffed into the bags wet. The ropes may mildew but this does not adversely affect the rope. Rope that has come into contact with blood or other body fluids can be cleaned using a chlorine bleach per your department’s protocols for contaminating equipment.

PMI offers special precautions about cleaning exposed rope:

In cases where equipment may be exposed to blood‐borne pathogens or other infectious substances, we’re often asked about appropriate methods for cleaning ropes. Certain authorities recommend specific concentrations of household bleach for disinfecting gear that has been exposed to certain contaminants, so naturally customers often wonder at what concentration their PMI rope will experience deterioration. While PMI cannot speak to the subject of infectious diseases, or what solution might neutralize a given hazardous substance, we are happy to provide at least some guidance regarding the effect of bleach on rope fibers.

Specifically, PMI has found that a mixture of 1 part household bleach (with active ingredient of Sodium hypochlorite at 5.25% concentration) with 9 parts room temperature tap water and a 10 minute or less exposure time, immediately followed by a thorough rinse of room temperature water appears not to cause any appreciable harm to nylon or polyester ropes. PMI cannot, however, speak to whether or not such a mixture will truly disinfect your rope from contaminants.

Precautionary Note:  PMI’s testing suggests that a “single disinfection” of ropes using the above recommended method will not cause appreciable harm to nylon or polyester ropes. However, if this process is repeated multiple times, the damage will inevitably become appreciable, and this damage is not necessarily detectable through visual inspection.

Remember, ropes are a critical element of the life safety system, and it can be difficult to make subjective decisions about the strength of rope without actually testing it to failure. The prudent course of action is to discard any rope about which there is any doubt.
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Monday, July 18, 2011

We have learned that Petzl America is recalling about 375,000 shock-absorbing lanyards that were sold worldwide beginning in 2002, according to an announcement on July 12 from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Consumers are advised to stop using the devices immediately, and contact Petzl for more information.

Petzl America Inc. has voluntarily recalled about 375,000 Scorpio and Absorbica shock-absorbing lanyards that have been sold since 2002, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced July 12. Some of the lanyards are missing a safety stitch on the attachment loop, which could cause the lanyard to separate from the climbing harness, the posted announcement states. No injuries have been reported in the U.S., but one fall injury in France has been. Consumers should stop using them immediately; CPSC notes that it is illegal to resell or attempt to resell a recalled consumer product.

The lanyards were made in France. All Scorpio and Absorbica lanyards manufactured before May 2011 are included. Scorpio lanyards manufactured between 2002 and 2005 with model numbers L60 and L60 CK, which are yellow and blue, Y-shaped lanyards with yellow stitching on both ends, connected by a metal O-ring to one end of a blue pouch containing the tear-webbing shock absorber, are included. The pouch has a tag on it with the word “PETZL” in white letters, and the other end of the blue pouch has a blue and yellow webbing attachment loop that connects to the climbing harness. Scorpio lanyards manufactured between 2005 and 2011 are model numbers L60 2, L60 2CK, L60 H, and L60 WL. They are red, Y-shaped lanyards connected by a black metal O-ring to one end of a grey zippered pouch containing the tear-webbing shock absorber. The other end of the pouch has a black webbing attachment loop that connects to the climber’s harness.

Absorbica lanyards included in the recall have model numbers L70150 I, L70150 IM, L70150 Y, L70150 YM, L57, L58, L58 MGO, L59, and L59 MGO. They have a black zippered pouch with yellow trim and the Petzl logo on the side and a tear-webbing shock absorber accessible through the zippered pouch. The pouch has a connector attachment on one end and a connector attachment, a single lanyard, or a Y-shaped lanyard on the other end. Authorized Petzl dealers in the United States and Canada sold them from January 2002 through May 2011.

For a free inspection and replacement, contact Petzl America Inc. at 877-740-3826 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mountain time weekdays or visit Petzl's website.
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Petzl Recall for GriGri 2′s

Friday, July 01, 2011

For our readers who may use Petzl GriGri 2’s, we wanted to make you aware of this recall. Please check the serial number of your device to see if it’s in this range. You will also need to contact Petzl as indicated below. As noted, this does not apply to the previous generation GriGri.

As a measure of precaution Petzl has decided to take the following actions:

Increase the mechanical strength of the handle on all GRIGRI 2’s since serial number 11137. Recall all GRIGRI 2’s with the first five digits of the serial number between 10326 and 11136, and replace with a new revised GRIGRI 2. Petzl will pay for all shipping costs to complete this replacement.

If you have a GRIGRI 2 (D14 2O, D14 2G, D14 2B) with the first five digits of the serial number between 10326 and 11136, stop use immediately and contact Petzl America to initiate an exchange.

Contact Petzl America in one of two ways:

  •     By phone: 1 (800) 932-2978 (toll free)
  •     By email:
The previous generation GRIGRI is not concerned by this recall.
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What does ASTM say about Rope Inspection?

Monday, June 06, 2011

ASTM F1740 provides very comprehensive guidelines for users of rescue rope.  The title “Standard Guide for Inspection of Nylon, Polyester, or Nylon/Polyester Blend, or Both Kernmantle Rope” indicates it is specifically intended to guide the user in the inspection of these rescue ropes, and is not intended to be a guide in the selection and use of rescue ropes.

However, the information included in F1740 is not to be considered the only criteria for evaluating the serviceability of rescue rope.

One of the first considerations the user needs to address is the selection of an experienced individual who is deemed qualified to perform and document the rope inspections.

While F1740 does provide excellent guidelines, the user and/or the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) may feel it necessary to augment the information in F1740 with additional training.

Fortunately, our friends at PMI Rope have produced a very comprehensive webinar on Rope Care which includes specific information on  rope inspections. This 61 minute webinar is presented by Mr. Steve Hudson, president of PMI Rope. Steve has an unsurpassed background and knowledge base regarding the manufacture and use of rescue rope and his presentation should more than satisfy your need to augment F1740.

Click here for a link to PMI’s webinars. Use the scroll down on the left and select the 3/2/10 presentation titled “Rope Care.” The information that addresses rope inspection begins at the 24:30 time mark of the presentation. offers PMI rescue rope for rescue professionals. Please contact Roco at 800-647-7626 if you have any further questions.
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RescueTalk ( has been created as a free resource for sharing insightful information, news, views and commentary for our students and others who are interested in technical rope rescue. Therefore, we make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, or suitability of any information and are not liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. Users and readers are 100% responsible for their own actions in every situation. Information presented on this website in no way replaces proper training!