Roco Rescue



Rope Care & Cleaning Tips

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Life safety rope is an essential tool for rescue operations. It is your responsibility to learn and understand the capabilities and limitations of your life safety rope before using it. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions for the use, care and maintenance. Always double-check that the specifications of the rope match the intended use.

Keeping your rope clean is essential. Dirt rubbing into and against the fibers of your rope will deteriorate it. Here are some suggestions from PMI for cleaning static kernmantle rope.

Wash it: You can wash dirty ropes by hand or in a front-loading commercial washing machine using cold to warm water with a mild sap. Non-detergent soaps are best, but a mild detergent is acceptable if used sparingly. In any case, the soap used should not contain bleaching agents. Avoid top loading washing machines with agitators because they tangle the rope severely and might even cause damage from friction produced by rubbing of the synthetic rope against the synthetic agitator.

Lubricate it: Ropes may dry out and lose some flexibility as a result of washing. You can prevent this by occasionally adding a little fabric softener (about a cup of Downy Fabric Softener) to the rinse cycle during rope washing. Do not use more than this, or it might damage the rope.

Dry it: Dry your rope in a clean, dry area out of direct sunlight. Avoid: (1) commercial dryers, (2) placing wet ropes on a concrete surface, and (3) exposure to exhaust fumes. For best results, the rope should be laid in a loose coil or coiled around two objects in a low-humidity environment.

Write it down: Remember to record the cleaning on the Rope Log.

Keep it clean: After repacking, store your rope in a clean, dark, dry environment, away from exposure to acids, other harmful chemicals, noxious fumes or other abuse.

NOTE: Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use, inspection, care and maintenance of your rescue rope. Your life (and the lives of others) may depend on it, so take it seriously.
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Guidelines for Permanent Marking of Rescue Hardware

Friday, April 29, 2011

One of the most reliable ways to ensure that your rescue team is able to identify, and if needed, prove ownership of its equipment is by marking the gear with some type of visible identification. There are many ways to accomplish this ranging from color-coded paint or vinyl tape to affixing tags. Each has its shortcomings in terms of durability – and tags could potentially interfere with the function of the item. Here are some additional guidelines from our hardware manufacturer, SMC. For more than 40 years, it has been SMC’s goal to design and manufacture innovative gear that sets the standard for quality, reliability, and functionality.

The following information is intended to serve as a clear and simple guide concerning what is acceptable and conversely, what is not acceptable, when permanently marking by engraving into the surface of various types of hardware.

Note: Always adhere to your equipment manufacturer’s instructions.

First of all, it’s very important to note that it is only acceptable to use a “hand-held” electric type engraver to place identifying marks on hardware. Do NOT strike
with a hammer or stamps or ever use other similar methods. Once the marking process has been completed, ALWAYS inspect the product for proper fit and function PRIOR to returning it to service.

For carabiners, it is recommended to mark along the spine of the frame. Do NOT mark on or near the lock or pivot tabs of the frame and stay away from rope bearing areas. Do NOT mark on the gate! For steel and stainless products, use a medium setting with medium to heavy pressure. For aluminum products, use a low setting with light to medium pressure. Depth of engraving equal to the thickness of a piece of paper should be enough to last the life of the product.

For pulleys, it is recommended to mark on the flat outside surface around the axle. Do NOT mark ON OR NEAR the carabiner hole at the top of a pulley or anywhere on the becket of a double pulley. It is also important to stay away from all rope bearing areas.

Rappel Racks & Bars, Rigging Plates & Rope Protection:
When marking other hardware, always use caution and stay away from all carabiner holes, rope bearing surfaces and surrounding areas.

Most aluminum products are anodized. Some slight cosmetic oxidation may occur over time and this is a natural occurrence. Alloy steel parts are typically zinc plated. Engraving these products will remove the zinc plating in that particular area. One advantage of zinc plating is that it will move over and protect the exposed base material (self-sacrificing). However, this will eventually lead to the zinc in the area being consumed and may allow rust to begin to form. To help prevent corrosion, periodically wipe down plated products with LPS or a similar product.

As durable as modern rescue hardware is, it is important never to use any permanent identification method that would compromise the structural integrity of the item. With the clear guidelines provided by SMC, it allows the owner to have a reliable means of identifying their rescue hardware, while at the same time maintaining the original integrity of the item.

We remind you that it is important to review the user information and instructions for use for any rescue equipment item to ensure that the procedures outlined above are not conflicting with another manufacturer’s guidelines. Roco strives to provide practical and useful information to the rescue community, and this is one in a series of postings that we hope will help you become a better rescuer.
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How often should I replace my rescue harness?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

We get many calls asking about the “life expectancy” of rope, harnesses and other nylon products. Of course, there are many factors involved and no one “set in stone” answer, but a lot depends on how much you use your harness and the ways you use it. Even where you store your gear is a factor. 

For example, for emergency responders working in industrial environments, atmospheric exposures may be a key consideration for nylon products even while in storage. Another consideration is “when” the harness or rope was made… manufacturing parameters change as technology improves and you may just want a product that’s been tested to the latest standards. However, as with all of your rescue equipment, it’s important to account for its use as well as to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Never take chances when there’s any doubt about the serviceability of a life safety product. For more details on the service life of nylon products, our harness manufacturer, CMC Rescue, has provided the following information:

The service life of a rescue harness is closely related to the life of a rescue rope – both are used in the same environments, both are made from nylon or polyester, and both receive similar levels of inspection and care. Since harnesses are worn on the body, they are generally better protected than the ropes. On the other hand, harnesses rely on the stitching to hold them together, and due to its small diameter, the thread can be more susceptible to abrasion, aging, and chemical damage than web or rope.

The fall protection industry recommends 2 to 3 years as a service life for a harness or belt in use. They recommend 7 years for the shelf life. The military was using 7 years as a service life for nylon products. The Climbing Sports Group of the Outdoor Recreation Coalition of America says that a climbing harness should last about two years under normal weekend use. At this time, the rescue industry does not have a recommended service life for harnesses.

Through the ASTM consensus standards process, the rescue industry set 10 years as the maximum service life for a life safety rope, see ASTM Standard F1740-02 Guide for Inspection of Nylon, Polyester, or Nylon/Polyester Blend, or both Kernmantle Rope. The guide stresses that the most significant contributing factor to the service life of a rope is the history of use. A rope that is shock loaded or otherwise damaged should be retired immediately. Hard use would call for a shorter service life than would be acceptable for a rope that sees very little use.

If we apply the same analysis to the rescue harness, then the actual use and the conclusions drawn from inspection would be the significant criteria for retirement. We do know that with any use, a rope will age, and thus a harness is likely to do the same, so a 10-year maximum service life may well be appropriate for harnesses as well assuming inspection has not provided any reason for early retirement.

As with ropes, if the harness has been subjected to shock loads, fall loads, or abuse other than normal use, the harness should be removed from service. If there is any doubt about the serviceability of the harness for any reason, it should be removed from service.
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Friday, March 11, 2011

Equipment manufacturers are becoming increasingly concerned about substandard equipment making its way into the rescue market. Most often, this equipment is not tested to the appropriate standards and presents a risk to rescuers and end users. We recently received a notice from Petzl concerning Chinese counterfeit versions of their products. Although none have been reported in North America as of yet, it’s something to be aware of and concerned about.

According to the notice, there is a significant risk that these counterfeit Petzl products could open or otherwise fail at low loads and under normal use. The counterfeits do NOT meet UIAA or CE safety standards nor do they meet Petzl’s safety and quality requirements. What’s more, these counterfeit products have been reproduced in a way that makes them very difficult to identify. Design features of several Petzl products (see illustration below) have been reproduced nearly identically – including product markings, color, instructions for use, and packaging.

To avoid these inferior (and potentially unsafe) products, only buy rescue gear from a reputable dealer – it’s simply not worth the risk. If you have any doubt about the authenticity of a product, contact the manufacturer immediately – or call us here at Roco, and we’ll be glad to assist.

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What does it mean when my atmospheric monitor gives negative or minus readings?

Thursday, December 02, 2010

At some point, most atmospheric monitors will display a “negative” or minus reading for a flammable gas or toxic contaminant. First of all, it is not actually possible for an atmosphere to contain a “negative amount” of a substance. These negative readings usually result from improper use of the monitor.

Most monitors will “Field Zero” or “Fresh Air Calibrate” its sensors when powered on. Because of this, it is very important to power on the unit in a clean, fresh air environment away from confined spaces, running equipment or other possible contaminants. Otherwise, the monitor may falsely calibrate based on the contaminant that is present.For example, a monitor that is powered on in an atmosphere that contains 10 ppm of a contaminant and then moved to fresh air may display a reading of minus 10 ppm. Even more troublesome, if that same monitor is then brought to a confined space that actually contains 25 ppm of the contaminant, it may display a reading of only 15 ppm. As you can see, this could easily lead to the improper selection of PPE for the entrant and result in a confined space emergency.

As always, it is very important to consult with the manufacturer of your particular atmospheric monitor in order to determine how to use it properly. Don’t take any chances with this critical part of preparing for confined space entry or rescue operations.
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