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Your Rescue Gear Will Soon Have New NFPA Markings

Monday, March 13, 2023

NFPA has started a process of grouping related standards into one volume. For example, it has now grouped NFPA 1983, 1858, and 1670 into one volume, NFPA 2500, “Operations and Training for Technical Search and Rescue Incidents and Life Safety Rope and Equipment for Emergency Services.”

NFPA 2500

So, NFPA 2500 will include all three of these standards. However, NPFA 1006 “Professional Qualifications for Technical Rescuers” still remains a separate document.

PMI LogoAccording to a blog post by CEO Loui McCurley of PMI, one of the most noticeable changes will probably be on equipment that will now be marked with NFPA 2500 instead of NFPA 1983. NFPA has decided to include the old standard numbers as a reference. For example, equipment previously would have been marked:

                                    NFPA 1983 (2017 ED)

It will now look more like this…

                                    NFPA 2500 (1983) 2022 ED

There will be a “G”, “T” or “E” to indicate General Use, Technical Use or Escape.

The big change is that as of Spring 2023, manufacturers must stop selling equipment marked to the 2017 edition of 1983. Retailers will still be able to sell the equipment until their stocks are depleted.

Your next question might be, “Will users be required to switch to the new NFPA 2500 marked equipment?” Or, “When must I stop using NFPA 1983 marked equipment?”

There is no NFPA requirement that says you have to use or buy equipment meeting the most current version of any standard. Ms. McCurley indicates that the good news is that there were not significant technical changes to the standard, so most all equipment properly certified to NFPA 1983 (2017) will also meet the NFPA 2500 (2022) standard.

NFPA new markings


Thank you to Loui McCurley, CEO of PMI, for providing the reference material here. Several videos about this topic are available at www.pmirope.com.


Additional Resources

Confined Space Rescue Chart

Cleaning Your Rescue Rope…Here’s What the Experts Have to Say

Friday, February 10, 2023

new ropes

We are often asked, “How should I clean my rescue rope?”

First and foremost, always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning and caring for your rescue rope. Your rope is a critical link in your rescue system, and it should be treated accordingly.

Excessive dirt and grit on your rope can lead to wear that reduces a rope’s strength and lifespan – so it’s important to clean your rope when needed. 


NFPA LogoHere’s what NFPA 2500 says about cleaning and decontaminating rope:

Ref: NFPA 2500: Standard for Operations and Training for Technical Search and Rescue Incidents and Life Safety Rope and Equipment for Emergency Services, 2022 Edition - Chapter 32 Cleaning and Decontamination (NFPA 1858)

32.2.3 Routine Cleaning Process for Life Safety Rope and Webbing The organization shall determine its requirements for when rope or webbing shall be cleaned. In the absence of manufacturer's instructions, the cleaning procedure shall be as follows:

  1. Remove as much debris, dirt, and mud as possible at the scene.
  2. Rinse off any excess dirt with a hose.
  3. Soak the rope or webbing for a minimum of 30 minutes in a plastic tub of water with mild detergent added.
  4. Rinse the rope or webbing by pulling it through a rope washing device twice.
  5. Hang the rope or webbing in a cool, shady place to dry.

32.2.4 * Decontamination of Rope and Webbing (* references additional information in the Appendix)
(A.32.2.4 Biohazard cleaning agents can have an adverse effect on the strength of software products. The organization should determine the risk versus benefit of excessive decontamination of rope. At some point, it is best to take the rope out of service.) The organization shall determine requirements pertaining to rope or webbing being taken out of service due to contamination. Rope or webbing that has come into contact with blood or other body fluids shall be decontaminated using detergents or cleaning agents approved for removing biohazards according to the organization’s protocols for decontaminating PPE.


PMI LogoHere’s what PMI says about cleaning and decontaminating 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 soap. Non-detergent soaps are best. Soap should not contain any bleaching agents. And PMI has a product called “Rope Soap” that is recommended.

PMI recommends that top loading washing machines with agitators not be used – they tend to tangle the rope and might even cause damage from friction produced by rubbing of the synthetic rope against the synthetic agitator.

It’s also important to note that ropes may shrink up to 6% after washing – you may want to verify rope length periodically.

LUBRICATE ITRopes may dry out and lose some flexibility after washing. Occasionally, you can add a small amount of fabric softener (about a cup) to the rinse cycle. Do not use more than this as it may damage your rope.

DRY IT – Dry your rope in a clean, dry area out of direct sunlight. For best results, it should be laid in a loose coil or coiled around two objects in a low-humidity environment.


  1. Using a commercial dryer.
  2. Placing wet ropes on a concrete surface.
    (Moisture in the concrete can create a mild acid vapor.)
  3. Exposure to exhaust fumes.

And, write it down. Remember to record the cleaning on your rope log.

STORE IT SAFELY – Store your rope in a clean, dark, dry environment, away from exposure to acids, other harmful chemicals, noxious fumes or other abuse. Make sure it is completely dry before storing.

Note: Even properly stored rope can lose strength over time, so it’s critical to store it properly!

DECONTAMINATION – Disinfection of a rope may occasionally become necessary, such as when exposed to bloodborne pathogens. PMI recommends following the NFPA standard for cleaning rescue gear of bloodborne pathogens.

Prepare a solution of 60ml (approximately ¼ cup) of household bleach for every 4 liters of tap water (approximately 1 gallon). Soak the rope for 10 minutes in the solution and then rinse or wash the rope. The rinsing cycle is critical to prevent any damage to the rope from the bleach.

Note: It is vital that the bleach be thoroughly rinsed from the rope. And, repeated uses of bleach can cause damage to nylon fibers – use of bleach to disinfect should be used sparingly and only when needed.


Again, your rope is a critical part of your rescue system. It deserves your close attention in care, storage, cleaning, use and inspection. And, as always, if there’s any doubt – throw it out!!


Additional Resources

Service Live Guidelines for Rescue Equipment

WARNING! – Pulley Recall

Thursday, December 22, 2022

ProSwivel_Pulley_Lineup-1024x358omni-sizes-graphicInspect all CMC ProSwivel or Rock Exotica Omni-Block swivel pulleys immediately.

CMC and Rock Exotica, who makes CMC's ProSwivel pulleys, have both issued recall notices on their 1.1" swivel pulleys and SwivaBiner pulleys. The concern is surrounding the set screws that hold the button in. The button secures the side plate, so if the button comes out, the side plate could open and let the rope fall out - which could mean severe injury or death.

The recall only applies to the 1.1" versions manufactured from February 2020 through October 2022, however both manufacturers are recommending that all of these swivel pulleys be inspected.


If you have a pulley subject to the recall, return it to the manufacturer at no charge for inspection/repair. If you purchased your pulleys from Roco, we will be happy to assist you with the recall and inspection.

If you have 1.1" pulleys made outside of the recall window, or have other sizes of any date, you may inspect them yourself or return them for professional inspection.

  1. 2018 to present
    1. There should be a dab of epoxy sealant that fills the set screw hole. It may be brownish/yellowish or a white/grey color.
    2. If the epoxy is missing, return the pulley for repair.
    3. If the sealant is protruding above the surface, determine the color. If it is white/grey, that's okay. If it is brownish/yellowish, return the pulley for repair.
  2. 2016 and 2017
    1. There should be a dab of epoxy sealant like the current models have, but it will only be white/grey. It's okay if it is above the surface of the hole, but if it's missing, return the pulley for repair.
  3. Prior to 2016
    1. No visible sealant was used on these models, so don't worry when you see the bare set screw. Just make sure the set screw is even with or below the surface.
    2. If you are not comfortable doing this inspection yourself, you can send your pulleys to the manufacturer or to Roco for inspection.
    3. You may want to add your own epoxy to these models to make your daily gear inspections easier. (see details in the inspection notices linked below)

Instructions for identifying your pulleys and locating the serial numbers are included in the manufacturer recall and safety notices. Be sure that you are using the proper notice for your pulley, as the CMC and Rock Exotica serial number locations are slightly different.

Manufacturers' Detailed Information

Note that CMC's and Roco's offices will be closed 12/23/22 through 1/2/23 and reopen Tuesday, January 3rd. However, if you have an urgent need during the holidays, you may reach CMC at info@cmcpro.com and Roco at 800-647-7626 (follow the prompts for emergency after-hours service).

Always remember to inspect your gear before each use. Stay safe, and Merry Christmas!

Roco Reviews the New CMC Triskelion™ Tripod

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Triskelion. The name is as old as the concept, three legs coming together to a common point and sharing a load concentrated in the center of those three legs. There are numerous examples of the tripod in Greek, Chinese and Roman history. When it evolved into a design that could be moved, adjusted where needed, and used to create an overhead anchor, we started paying attention. Fast forward a millennium and the concept really has not changed. In the world of work and rescue, we are still picking things up and putting them down using tripods. 

The most common tripod is the rectangular leg design that is popular with work crews covering a multitude of industries. Usually there is a bracket mounted on one leg to accept a cable winch and a couple of head-mounted pulleys in line to run that cable over. This keeps the resultant forces within the footprint and makes them very stable when loaded properly. They are designed to support a single user with a maximum capacity of 310 lbs. and WLL (working load limit) of 350 lbs. The legs are adjustable in height and come with a chain hobble. Workers all over the world are hanging below these tripods as you read this. 

With the new Triskelion™ Industrial Rescue Tripod, CMC has taken that rectangle tube leg design and utilized it for rescue. If your rules of engagement require NFPA compliance with your equipment, you will be pleased to know that the Triskelion is the first industrial rescue tripod to receive an NFPA General Use rating. 


Roco recently got a chance to put our hands on one and put it through some testing and team reps with a couple of progressive fire departments in Idaho and New Mexico, as well as at the Roco Training Center in Baton Rouge. Firefighters can be tough on gear, but right out of the box they commented on its look and solid feel. Once in use, it didn’t take us long to discover that rescuers wanted to get their hands on the Triskelion as soon as possible. 

We beat it up, we used it hard and rough, and it performed – it really performed. When loading it as a traditional tripod with a block and tackle, it locks in tight. It locks into a never-moving position like a 35-year-old living in his parents’ basement, playing Clash of Clans. He is not moving, and neither is the Triskelion. When the Triskelion is loaded correctly, it is incredibly stable. It is also incredibly quiet. For those who spend any time using work tripods, you are already familiar with that cringe-worthy feeling you get hearing the tripod creak and grind as it hopefully settles into a strong supportive position. The Triskelion is a touch more stoic. It stands up strong and keeps its mouth shut. 

Despite its robust size, the Triskelion is smooth in its operation. If the CMC crew wants to send over the names of the brilliant engineering team members who set the pin location on the legs, we can find the time to buy them a round of drinks. With its new design, we think it’s the best on the market. The rectangular legs are set up with stoppers so that whether you are all the way down, or all the way extended, the pinholes are lined up. Such a simple feature, but one that quickly became a favorite of the Roco teams that used it. 


The tethered pins are big and user-friendly with ball-locks, but with big pins come big holes so be careful you don’t slip a finger into one while adjusting! Graphics and adjustment markers on the legs are bold and easy to see, making coordination a breeze. The days of struggling to pin the legs at height are over. 

The head-mounted pulleys are low profile and well protected. We used one of them rigged with one of our favorite Tripod systems to perform a shaft rescue (think English Reeve without the track lines and control lines). 

The low profile of the pulley and the elimination of swing from not having to hang a pulley on both sides created a very compact and stable shaft system. The low-profile system also provides additional headspace when bringing out a vertical litter. 

Roco Rescue | Vertical Sked litter raise with CMC Triskelion tripodA group in an open enrollment Roco class in Baton Rouge used the Triskelion to bring up a vertical Sked and had over a foot of clearance left when the feet cleared due to the increased headspace. And just in case you didn’t get all your rigging right before you raised the Triskelion to its 10ft. maximum height, the optional footsteps ensure you can still reach to add, change, or delete anything you need. CMC also offers winch mounting solutions for the excellent Harkin Lokhead winch as well as DBI/Sala offerings. 

The storage bag is reinforced on each end and features sewn handles for a two-person carry. There is also a padded shoulder strap, which you will appreciate if trying to carry alone. The straps are offset towards the head to compensate for the extra weight the Triskelion carries up top. 

Special thanks to the City of Nampa Fire Department and Albuquerque Fire Rescue for contributing and providing feedback. Many of us came into this evaluation thinking, “how good can it be?” and we finished by asking, “when can we get one?”

If you are interested in purchasing the new Triskelion Tripod, you can order from our online store, call us at (800) 647-7626, or order via email at info@RocoRescue.com.ROC003-July-Social-v1roco-fb-insta-4

Sked Stretcher...Celebrating 40 Years and Still the Best!

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Few rescue devices have saved more lives than the Sked Stretcher – and it’s literally saved thousands of lives. And, after almost 40 years, it’s still the most compact, versatile stretcher on the market. In reality, it has become a staple item in rescue that is used by thousands of emergency responders around the globe including the U.S. military.


Roco recently talked with the owners of Skedco to get a little more history on this unique rescue system. According to Bud Calkin, “Skedco has been on a lifesaving mission since 1981 – and while there have been numerous improvements to the Sked over the years, it is still a simple, effective tool for rescuers.” Co-owner Catherine Calkin adds, “Skedco is definitely all about supporting emergency responders, both civilian and military. We’re also about providing a good place to work for our employees. People depend on us; we can’t let them down.”


We asked a number of questions about the origins of the Sked stretcher as well as how the device is produced, tested and used in the field. Here’s more of our discussion…

Roco: Of course, the first question is how many Sked stretchers do you estimate that you've made over the years? And, how many rescues?

Skedco: Way over a half-million; we produce and ship thousands every year to places around the world. There’s no way to know exactly how many rescues have been performed with the Sked, but we estimate in the thousands.

Roco: What's a day like at Skedco with the manufacturing of the Sked?

Skedco: Busy. We try to have at least 500 standard and HMH Skeds ready to box up and ship at all times. We never know when different governments will place big orders; and, of course, they always expect very prompt shipping. But having these in stock also means that other customers get the same quick shipping times.


Roco: What gave you the idea for the Sked stretcher?

Skedco: After struggling with all types of rescue litters in the Army and wanting to evacuate a wounded soldier over long distances by myself, I eventually redesigned a game carrier invented by my sister for dragging a deer from the point of kill. After extensive research on plastics and other materials, I built the first Sked. I drew the design around a very heavy guy, and it has never changed – although there are several variations now and I am close to fielding one more for the military.


Roco: How long did the research and development of the Sked take?

Skedco: Considering the evolution and expansion of capabilities, it was about 5 years. We made changes as needs appeared along the way. Today, there are 8 versions of Sked.

Roco: What makes the Sked so perfect for rescue?

Skedco: Its compactness, versatility, durability and ease of use.

Roco: How do you test the Sked?

Skedco: There were a number of tests that I did on the Sked including “cold crack” testing to
minus 120 degrees; pull testing on the grommets in the plastic; drop-testing; environmental testing of the plastic; chemical absorption testing of the plastic; and pull-testing of all sewn webbing. And I myself was inside the stretcher during in-use field testing of all functions. I felt that if it wasn’t safe for me, then I could not trust the device for others. I had to have faith in the product, or I wouldn’t have produced it.

Roco: What type of plastic is used in making the Sked? And how strong is it?

Skedco: The Sked is made from a proprietary formula of E-Z glide polyethylene plastic. This plastic can withstand temperatures as low as minus 120 degrees without becoming brittle. It has proven to be tough enough to withstand being run over by a 56-ton tank – and then used to drag a soldier around a military base over extremely rough terrain for more than 10 miles! The greatest weight we've heard a Sked carrying was a 1,347 lb. individual. What’s more, there was no damage to the Sked afterward.


Roco: How is the military version of the Sked different from the civilian version?

Skedco: The military has its own unique specifications for the Sked. It is designed specifically for the battlefield. This includes more subdued coloring; and, in some cases, the stretcher is narrower and shorter for extremely tight spaces and for carrying long distances when size is a problem. However, the plastic material is the same as the civilian version.


Roco: What is the most unique rescue that has been performed using a Sked stretcher?

Skedco: I think the most unusual and demanding rescue was the cave rescue in Thailand a couple of years ago when 12 kids and their soccer coach were rescued. Nobody thought it could be done but they finally got permission to proceed. The Air Force Pararescue guys out of Okinawa and the Thai Navy Seals performed the rescue. There was an Australian anesthesiologist who mixed the drug combination so the boys could be kept sedated during each rescue evolution. This rescue operation required hundreds of people for support including staging and maintenance of equipment, pumping water from parts of the cave, rigging of rope systems, searching for the boys and providing food and water for the boys. It was a massive effort, and a huge success – we are grateful to have played a role.

Roco: Speaking of water rescue applications, what makes up this specialized version?

Skedco: There is a special floatation system for using the stretcher in water. The system is designed to keep the Sked upright in water. If it gets capsized, it will self-right. Patient packaging in the water takes as little as 20 seconds by only one person.

PHOTO-2018-11-21-23-48-58 (6)

Roco: Do you ever hear from patients who have been rescued using a Sked?

Skedco: Very seldom; but when I do, I get some of the most bizarre stories about it!

Roco: How has the Sked improved over the years?

Skedco: There have been many improvements and additions to the original Sked stretcher. Examples include a flotation system, spinal immobilization, better ropes, carabiners, webbing and carrying bag. For the Hazmat/hospital version, I used polypropylene webbing and military-grade plastic side-release buckles for safety in chemical environments. The newer Sked units include Austrian-made Skedco/Cobra side-release buckles, which are extremely strong and durable – and much easier to use.


Roco: What are your thoughts about the future of the Sked stretcher? Any changes or revisions anticipated?

Skedco: As a matter of fact, I am currently designing 2 new Skeds for the military. Final testing will be done within the next few months.

Roco: What are your thoughts about the future of technical rope rescue?

Skedco: There will always be a need for Technical Rope Rescue – because people continue to get themselves into the most difficult places and in the most dangerous environments. Many times, there are injuries with desperate need of medical care. Thankfully, there are special people who will risk their own lives to save them from these deadly situations; and there are companies like Roco who do the training for those dangerous events.

Roco salutes the entire Skedco team for their many years of service as they approach their 40th anniversary later this year. We also asked what makes it all worthwhile – the many long hours, the never-ending testing and the continuing advancements to the Sked. Founder Bud Calkin stated, “It’s simple. We are extremely privileged to be able to provide a specialized tool needed to perform oftentimes extreme rescues and to know so many hundreds of rescue personnel from around the world who risk their lives on a regular basis to save others. To borrow a phrase from US Air Force Pararescue, ‘That others may live.’ After all, isn't that what it’s all about?”



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