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

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

Q&A: Replacing Your Rescue Harness

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

How often should I replace my rescue harness?



We get many calls asking about the “life expectancy” of harnesses, rope, and other nylon products. Of course, many factors are involved, but a lot depends on how much you use your harness and how you use it.

First of all, NFPA 1858 10.1.2 states that “Software products shall be retired in accordance with 10.2.1 no more than 10 years from the date of manufacture.” Be sure to check the label of your harness, which should tell you when it was manufactured. If it’s beyond this 10-year service life, we recommend that it be taken out of service.

The frequency of use can have significant impact to the service life of a harness.

ASTM F1740-96 (2018) Guide for Inspection of Nylon/Kernmantle Rope also recommends a 10-year service life for rope, which can be applied to a nylon harness as well. Section 5.5.2 states, “Retire any rope which is greater than ten years old, regardless of history and usage.

newharness4revHere are a few examples based on industry use. The fall protection industry generally recommends 2 to 3 years as a service life for a harness or belt in regular use. The Climbing Sports Group of the Outdoor Recreation Coalition of America states that a climbing harness should last about 2 years under normal weekend use. The military uses 7 years as a service life for nylon products. Of course, hard use of any product would call for a shorter service life than would normally be expected. Also, the frequency of use can have significant impact to the service life of a harness. It is not only the continual wear and tear a harness receives during use, but the exposure to other factors that exacerbate the degradation of textile fibers such as UV, sweat, or potentially other airborne chemicals. Frequent and rigorous use of a harness could decrease the service life substantially.

Even how and where you store your gear is an important factor. In an industrial environment, for example, atmospheric exposures may be a key consideration for nylon products even while in storage. Storage conditions, heat, light, temperature, and other variables can all impact nylon. NFPA 1858 Section 9.2 references the storage of life safety rope and other nylon products, “Equipment shall be stored in such a manner as to prevent damage contact with other equipment and to prevent exposure to chemicals and atmospheres that can contribute to rust, corrosion, or oxidation.”

How and where you store your gear is also an important factor.

As with all of your rescue gear, it’s very important to account for each use and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for care, use and inspection. As with ropes, if your harness has been subjected to shock loads, fall loads, abuse other than normal use, or fails the inspection for any reason, it should be removed from service and destroyed.

Bottom line…Never take chances when there’s any doubt about the serviceability of a life safety product. It’s simply not worth the risk.

Additional Resources

Q&A: Tactical Product Review

Saturday, October 15, 2022

tactical q&aQUESTION: 

Are there any industrial applications for Roco's Tactical Mini-Tripod?


Yes! We’ve been using the Mini-Tripod for many years in our tactical training, and it’s been in the Pararescue inventory since 2009 thanks to the Guardian Angel Technical Recovery Program. Every PJ team in the world has these tripods, and we were wondering whether there were any useful applications in industry. In response to this question, we commonly hear, “Why would I use that tiny tripod that requires special techniques to get a litter patient out of a hole if I can just bring the full-size version?” Valid point…until you work in a tray column.


Roco Rescue’s Devin Payne evaluates the Skedco/Roco Mini-Tripod inside a tray column. This training prop has engineered anchors and a top portal, but many tray columns have neither.

Configurations vary, and some of these spaces do have interior high points or topside openings. However, many do not. Maneuvering a patient up through the trays and out a side portal, can be a significant challenge without a high-point anchor. In fact, we practiced this exact scenario last month during a 4-day in-house workshop. We had nine of our experienced personnel from our Training, CSRT, and Tactical divisions perform multiple iterations of the scenario, with and without high points. Afterwards, we introduced the Mini-Tripod to the equipment cache – and, boy, was it a hit!

The Mini-Tripod is small enough to fit inside the tray column on the top tray. No other rescue tripod on the market has this capability. Our CSRT Director immediately reserved the tactical program’s tripod and assigned it to a tray column job starting the following week! The Mini-Tripod weighs 35 pounds and the height is 54”. (This is the measurement to the bottom of the head when fully extended where you clip a carabiner, not the top.) These handy little tools will soon become standard on these jobs.


tact tripod-Ish2 DSC_1330Additional Resources


Q&A: 11mm Rope and NFPA Requirements

Friday, April 29, 2022

We’re hearing more about 11mm rope for rescue purposes – does this meet NFPA requirements? 


That is a question we are getting quite often these days. The move from the traditional half-inch rescue rope (12.5mm) to 11mm is rapidly gaining momentum in the urban and industrial rescue world. While it is nothing new to rope access practitioners and back country rescuers, the skinny ropes can seem like a big jump for organizations doing their best to navigate the NFPA world.

At the end of 2017, the National Fire Protection Association released NFPA 1858, The Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Life Safety Rope and Equipment for Emergency Services. For the first time, NFPA had an equipment guidance document focused on the end user rather than the manufacturer of rescue equipment.

Most recently, this standard along with two other standards (1670 and 1983) have been consolidated into one comprehensive standard, NFPA 2500: Standard for Operations and Training for Technical Search and Rescue Incidents and Life Safety Rope and Equipment for Emergency Services, which became effective September 15, 2021.

Tech11-storeA quick look at NFPA 2500 reveals that the end user has significant leeway to determine rope and equipment size and strength. For example, Chapter 30 Selection (NFPA 1858), states in Section 2 Life Safety Rope that

“Specific performance criteria or specific features shall be defined based upon the intended application of the rope and equipment being purchased. If the organization has multiple intended applications for life safety rope, the purchase of multiple ropes shall be considered that best fit those applications.” (30.2.1)

Section 2 goes on to state, “Organizations shall specify and select rope with a minimum breaking strength (MBS) to provide an adequate factor of safety, as defined by the AHJ, for the intended application(s) to ensure adequate strength.” (30.2.5) 

The standard then adds, “Rope diameter shall be considered with prioritization to ensure compatibility with the other components used in the system and the ability to grip the rope.” (30.2.6)

NFPA allows the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) wide latitude to choose 11mm rope and equipment should it meet the needs of your organization. If you need further convincing, the Annex tells us that; Chapters 24 through 28 (of NFPA 2500), which divide life safety rope and equipment into two designations: general use and technical use. NFPA does not establish or endorse a particular safety factor or ratio.

And then goes on to say, “Rescue organizations can elect to use either technical use– or general use–labeled equipment based on the anticipated loads of the incident; training/skill level of responders; and the AHJ’s established acceptable safety factors. What safety factor(s) is deemed appropriate might vary based on the acceptable level of risk, severity of consequences of a potential failure, types of technical rescues, and the corresponding level of operational capability of the organization.” (A.‍

Most major rope manufacturers now offer 11mm kernmantle rescue ropes that are rated for NFPA general use. Add in compatible hardware like the excellent 11mm CMC Clutch by Harken or the Petzl Maestro Small, and you have multiple choices for skinny rope technical rescue that rivals the strength of any half-inch system with a much easier carry burden.

At the end of the day, whatever size rope and equipment you choose to use, it should;

  • meet a given standard (NFPA, ANSI, EN, CE)
  • be used within manufacturer’s recommendations
  • allow your team to complete the required task safely

This 11mm rope feels lighter, faster and rope companies are making it stronger, but is it right for you? Only you or your AHJ can decide.


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!