<img height="1" width="1" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=3990718177617800&amp;ev=PageView &amp;noscript=1">

Roco Rescue Challenge 2023 Video

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Check out our latest video from ChallengeChallenge 2023 Video


Check out the video from our 2023 Roco Rescue Challenge which marked our 30th anniversary of the event. Teams from both industrial and municipal sectors participated in the two-day scenario-based event which focused on confined space and high angle rope rescue in industrial settings. Scores are given and trophies awarded, but Rescue Challenge is really a learning event, with skill-building and improving being the ultimate objectives.

If you missed this year’s Rescue Challenge, join us next year on October 16-17, 2024, at the Roco Training Center in Baton Rouge. Every year our instructors devise new “surprise obstacles” to challenge teams with hurdles never before tackled.

Rescue Challenge is an outstanding motivational event for rescue teams – from new rescuers to more seasoned veterans.

Is your team ready for the CHALLENGE 2024? 


(And, if not, our instructors can get them ready!)



Petzl Call For Inspection

Wednesday, October 25, 2023



This morning, Petzl issued a Call for Inspection on certain models of their Astro and Canyon-Guide harnesses. If your equipment cache includes either of these harnesses, follow this link to determine if you are impacted and how to proceed.

If you need assistance with inspecting your harnesses, Roco Rescue will be happy to help, please call 800-647-7626.

Always remember to inspect your gear before each use. Stay safe!

Service Life Guidelines for Rescue Gear

Friday, September 15, 2023

little boy

I miss being a kid. No smart phones, no tablets, no TikTok. Twitter was what my stomach did if a cheerleader said hello in the hall. If you wanted to go run the streets with your friends until it got dark, you only had to do one thing. Get mom to tell you to get out of the house. It was a risky game. Act obnoxious enough and she told you to go play outside. Act too obnoxious and you risk getting sent to your room. The better way was to be the good kid. In my house, it sounded something like this.

Me: (yelling from my room) “MOM, CAN I GO OUTSIDE TO RIDE MY BIKE?”

Mom: “Did you finish your homework?”

Me: “Yes.”

Mom: “Is your room clean?”

Me: “Kind of.”

Mom: “Clean your room and you can go out.”

Me: “Why do I have to clean my room?”


And there it was, the true rallying cry of our childhood…  BECAUSE I SAID SO.


Imagine if we applied that same conversation to Technical Rescue. Would it go something like this?

Rescuer: “Hey boss, can we rappel?”

Program Manager: “Have you inspected your gear?”

Rescuer: “We did that last year.”

Program Manager: “Inspect your gear and you can go rappel.”

Rescuer: “Why do we have to inspect our gear before we go rappel?”

Program Manager: “BECAUSE I SAID SO!!!!”

If only it were so easy. My mom should be the CEO of the World. Things would get done.


Today we have a multitude of resources for inspecting our equipment. These resources tell us when, who, how and how often. The myriad of guidance can sometimes make us wish mom would just send us to our room. Let’s take a look at those resources and decipher what truly needs done so we can just go rappel.

The first thing we need to know is this. Regardless of the stated service life, the condition of rescue equipment – as determined through inspection by a qualified person – is the primary factor in determining whether a piece of equipment is fit for service. Stated service life is the long game. Ongoing inspection programs are the short game that we rely on to keep our people safe.

Regardless of the stated service life, the condition of rescue equipment – as determined through inspection by a qualified person – is the primary factor in determining whether a piece of equipment is fit for service.

Manufacturers should always be the first resource. They built the equipment to required standards. They know best how to inspect the gear with their name on it. When you break out that new piece of kit and tear off that little attached book, turn that shiny piece of gear over and over in your hand. Admire the clean-cut router work and the gorgeous anodization. Then put it down and read the instructions. Every single time.

While the manufacturer’s booklets might look long, the user instructions are generally manageable and delivered in multiple languages. The few minutes reading the language section applicable to you will be invaluable. It will tell you what you can and can’t do, and it will tell you how to inspect it. How often do we get all of the information about something we buy in a small package that we can keep around? Take advantage.

Manufacturers vary in their specifications for service life of rescue equipment. Petzl specifically defines the “potential” service life of plastic or textile products to be no longer than 10 years. For metallic equipment, they state that service life is indefinite. CMC, on the other hand, does not give specified times for their hard equipment, stating “The service life of equipment used for rescue depends greatly on the type of use and the environment of use.” Because manufacturers use standards vary greatly, a definitive service life of the equipment cannot always be provided.

Although the definition of equipment lifespan is very broad depending on the manufacturer, each will provide specific instructions on proper inspection of equipment and detailed explanations on when to the retire service item.

Most manufacturers follow the same general guidelines for removing equipment from service. Several general identifiers that pertain to all equipment are shown below. 


  • Item fails to pass any pre/post use or competent person inspection.
  • Item has been subjected to a major fall or load.
  • Item is constructed of plastic or textile material and is older than 10 years.
  • You cannot determine the complete full-use history of equipment.
  • You have lost confidence in the equipment.

Most manufacturers will provide service for equipment items that are repairable. However, most caution against repair because the cost typically exceeds the cost of replacement. Any repairs attempted outside of the manufacturer’s guidance may void any warranty and will release the manufacturer from any liability or responsibility. All manufacturers recommend destroying equipment once it has been retired from service to prevent items from inadvertently being cycled back into active service.

Manufacturers also provide indicators for different types of equipment that require it to be retired from service. These not only capture the general conditions mentioned above, but also address conditions that are specific to each category of equipment. It is important to identify these specific conditions as they are vital to the dependability and functionality of each component. These are commonly categorized as harnesses, hardware and software.


Harnesses are one of the most personal components of life safety equipment. Without a certified harness in serviceable condition, the best life safety rope and hardware will do little to protect the user. All individuals who are required to wear harnesses should be trained and authorized in the inspection process. Harnesses should be inspected before, during and after use as well as once annually by an individual deemed a competent person by the facility or department.

Harnesses should be inspected before, during and after use as well as once annually by an individual deemed a competent person by the facility or department.

Since harnesses are a nylon product, they fall under the guidelines set forth by ASTM International (formerly American Society for Testing and Materials) Consensus Standard F1740-96 and have a service life of 10 years. Manufacturers also state that hard or excessive use may significantly reduce service life. It is important to conduct routine inspections as well as keep records of harness use. This “usage” history could indicate signs that would require the equipment to be retired early.

Some conditions that may tell you it’s time to retire your harness:

  • It has been more than 10 years since the manufacture date.
  • Webbing shows signs of cuts, significantly worn or frayed areas, soft or hard spots.
  • Webbing shows signs of discolored or melted fibers.
  • Stitching shows signs of pulled threads, abrasion and/or breaks.
  • Hardware shows signs of damage, sharp edges, excessive wear, or improper function.
  • If the harness has been subjected to shock loads, fall loads, or abuse.
  • If there is any doubt about the integrity of the harness.

If the harness demonstrates any of these conditions, it should be removed from service and destroyed.

Life Safety Rope, Webbing, Anchor Straps, Accessory Cord:

Software products are also nylon or textile based; and as such, they fall under the same inspection process as harnesses. A complete inspection of life safety rope and associated products includes not only a visual inspection but a tactile (or touch) inspection as well. The tactile inspection should be done with tension on the rope, webbing or strap. 

The inspector is looking to identify any of the following conditions:

  • Chafed, glazed or discolored surfaces (these areas should receive a more thorough inspection).
  • Abrasions or cuts in the sheath where the core is exposed.
  • Variation of diameter of the rope that could indicate potential damage to the core fibers.
  • Soft or hard spots that could indicate core damage or that the fibers have been over stressed.
  • If the rope has been subjected to shock loads, fall loads or abuse.
  • It has been more than 10 years since the manufacture date.

A complete inspection of life safety rope and associated products includes not only a visual inspection but a tactile (or touch) inspection as well.

If any of these conditions are noted, then the item should be retired and destroyed immediately. It is important to remember that an accurate history should be maintained for all life safety rope products. The date of manufacture should be identified and recorded as products are being put into service. Equipment inspectors or users should ensure that these products do not exceed their service life. As with harnesses, the quantity, type and conditions of use can drastically reduce the service life of these products.



Hardware such as carabiners, descent control devices, pulleys and cams are metallic and plastic. Because of these materials, they do not fall under the ASTM service life recommendation of 10 years. If these products are in serviceable condition and properly maintained, they have an infinite service life unless specifically noted by the manufacturer. Even though they do not have a dedicated service life term, it is still important to conduct the same pre/post use and annual inspections. 

Some conditions that would require the equipment to be retired from service include:

  • Gear has been dropped a significant distance.
  • Exposed to heat sufficient enough to alter the surface appearance.
  • Cracks, distortion or deep gouges.
  • Corrosion or deep pitted rust. (Note: Surface rust may be removed with a fine abrasive cloth and coated with a preservative such as LPS #1 according the manufacturer’s recommendations.)
  • Sharp edges that could cause damage to life safety rope (minor edges may be smoothed with the same process as rust removal).
  • Gate does not line up when closed.
  • Gate action does not return to closed position when opened and released.
  • Locking mechanism does not fully engage.
  • Complete history of use cannot be determined.
  • Wear indicators are worn beyond manufacturer’s recommendation.

If any of these conditions exist, the equipment should be removed from service and destroyed. Records of use and inspection should be kept on these items even though the service life of the product is infinite.

Service History:

Service History is an extremely important part of ensuring life safety equipment is properly maintained and that service life is not exceeded. Not only does this help rescue teams control inventory and operational capability of equipment by documenting each use and inspection, it also assists the teams in forecasting budget costs for the replacement of items that are nearing the end of their service life.

Maintaining records of the manufacturer’s information received when purchasing new equipment is vital to identifying and keeping track of the manufacture date. It is also important to keep this information on file for the exact procedures for inspecting and removing equipment from service.

Service history is an extremely important part of ensuring life safety equipment is properly maintained and that service life is not exceeded.

If the manufacture date of equipment, such as life safety rope and harnesses, cannot be identified; it poses extreme liability for agencies or facilities whose teams may potentially be operating with equipment that has passed its service life. It could also create a compromise in the safe operation of the equipment.

If record-keeping of equipment inspection and use is not a primary focus of an organization, it could potentially expose team members to operating with unsafe equipment due to abuse or excessive/extreme conditions that go undetected.

Gear Inspection:

All team members should be qualified and knowledgeable enough to perform pre- and post-use inspections of equipment. It is crucial that all members document each use of equipment, denote any deficiencies, and report to the proper person. One person should be designated to perform the competent person annual inspection. This person should have complete knowledge of the equipment and inspection procedures as well as the authority to keep or remove equipment from service as they see fit. If team members are unable to fill this role, a qualified third party with applicable manufacturer certifications in competent person inspection should be brought in to assist in determining the condition and estimated service life of rescue equipment.

For assistance from our Roco Rescue equipment professionals, call us at 800-647-7626.


Brad WarrBrad Warr is a Senior Chief Instructor for Roco Rescue. He joined Roco Rescue in 2003 and currently teaches a wide variety of technical rescue classes including rope rescue, confined space rescue, trench rescue, and structural collapse. He is also a member of Roco’s Contracted Safety & Rescue Teams (CSRT), providing standby rescue services for plants, refineries and other industrial facilities. Brad became a firefighter for the Nampa (ID) Fire Department in 1998 and was promoted to Captain in 2006. He retired earlier this year. His responsibilities included training the department’s Heavy & Technical Rescue Team. Before joining the fire department, Brad worked as an Emergency Response Technician for a large manufacturer in Boise, where he was responsible for OSHA compliance, emergency medical response, confined space/rope rescue response and hazardous materials response.

Additional Resources

Gear Service Life Checklist 2023

Gear Inspection Checklist (download)

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

Guidelines for Permanent Marking of Rescue Hardware


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
1 2 3 4 5

RescueTalk™ (RocoRescue.com) 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!