Life Safety Rated / Rescue Rated?

Discuss vertical caving, equipment, & techniques. Also visit the NSS Vertical Section.

Moderator: Tim White

Life Safety Rated / Rescue Rated?

Postby Extremeophile » Mar 18, 2013 11:38 am

Does anyone have a reference for what is meant quantitatively by these terms? There seem to be a number of different descriptors such as "load bearing", "PPE rated", "life safety rated", "fall protection rated", "rescue rated", and so on. These seem to be thrown around interchangeably, but I don't think they have the same meaning. There also seem to be different certifications in North America vs Europe. There also don't seem to be consistent certification standards that apply to all the components of a vertical system, e.g. bolts, hangers, maillons, rope, webbing, carabiners, descenders, harness.

In other threads there have been suggestions that the use of certain gear or certain rigging practices may or may not be in compliance with standards, but I am unclear what standards are being referenced.

When building an anchor I try to match the strength of the bolt, hanger, connector, and rope, and I rig critical anchors with redundancy. Should I pay attention to the CE, ANSI, NFPA, etc. certifications of the components of an anchor? Are there elements of these certifications that go beyond simply their strength?

I have also seen many comments about rigging that anchors should be built for rescue use. Does this simply mean that two separate anchors are needed (one for hauling and one for belay)? Or is there an overall higher strength rating that meets rescue load standards? A typical anchor I would place ought to support at least 10,000 lbs, which is greater than the strength of the rope. Would this make it rescue rated?
User avatar
Extremeophile
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 761
Joined: Dec 7, 2009 7:37 pm
Location: Littleton, CO
Name: Derek Bristol
NSS #: 34941
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Colorado Grotto
  

Re: Life Safety Rated / Rescue Rated?

Postby Stridergdm » Mar 19, 2013 6:28 am

Extremeophile wrote:Does anyone have a reference for what is meant quantitatively by these terms? There seem to be a number of different descriptors such as "load bearing", "PPE rated", "life safety rated", "fall protection rated", "rescue rated", and so on. These seem to be thrown around interchangeably, but I don't think they have the same meaning. There also seem to be different certifications in North America vs Europe. There also don't seem to be consistent certification standards that apply to all the components of a vertical system, e.g. bolts, hangers, maillons, rope, webbing, carabiners, descenders, harness.

In other threads there have been suggestions that the use of certain gear or certain rigging practices may or may not be in compliance with standards, but I am unclear what standards are being referenced.

When building an anchor I try to match the strength of the bolt, hanger, connector, and rope, and I rig critical anchors with redundancy. Should I pay attention to the CE, ANSI, NFPA, etc. certifications of the components of an anchor? Are there elements of these certifications that go beyond simply their strength?

I have also seen many comments about rigging that anchors should be built for rescue use. Does this simply mean that two separate anchors are needed (one for hauling and one for belay)? Or is there an overall higher strength rating that meets rescue load standards? A typical anchor I would place ought to support at least 10,000 lbs, which is greater than the strength of the rope. Would this make it rescue rated?


I'll answer the last part. But first a slight tangent.

One term to keep in mind when thinking about safety factors is the "system safety factor". It sounds like you're already making the leap in the right direction. Basically, it's the sum of the parts that's important. Having an anchor that can support 10,000lbs doesn't necessarily do you much good if your rope is clothes line. Your SYSTEM safety factor in that case is probably 1.1:1, despite having an anchor that might be providing a "safety factor" of 50:1.

So generally, when talking about a "rigging for rescue" it's not so much "find the biggest anchor you can" as much as "how can I change this rigging so that I can use it in a rescue.

For example, it can be as simple as rigging your rope with a tensionless tie-off, but only putting enough rope down the hole to reach the bottom and leaving the rest at the top. Now, if someone gets stuck on rope, it may be as simple as only clipping your biner (since there shouldn't be any tension on it!) and unwrapping your tie-off enough such that you can safely lower your patient to the bottom of the pit.

It might be rigging that drop with a tie in point higher up rather than simply putting the rope over the edge. Not only does this make getting on/off the rope easier, it means if you end up with a patient on the rope in a litter, getting the litter over the edge will be easier.

As for paying attention to CE, ANSI, NFPA, I have to admit, I pretty much think more about CE than anything else. But even then, like you already seem to indicate, I worry about HOW I use the equipment. A CE approved carabiner that is cross-loaded against the gate, or put in a position where it can be twisted against something solid basically means all bets are off. (well not entirely, most if not all carabiners today DO have a cross-loaded rating, but the overall point is it WILL be weaker than using it properly.)

The terms you mention may have specific meanings, but I'll admit I'm not clear on the details.

Hope this helps.

(and I'll make another plug for the NCRC week-long cave rescue course in upstate New York this summer. We don't cover the ratings specifically, but do discuss rigging for rescue and other considerations in safety in a vertical (as well as horizontal) environment.

(For example we do go into the difference between fall protection and fall prevention and why the distinction is critical.
Cavers rescue cavers!
User avatar
Stridergdm
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
 
Posts: 922
Joined: Nov 1, 2005 10:08 am
Location: Capital District NY and Northern Virginia
Name: Greg Moore
Primary Grotto Affiliation: RPI Grotto
  


Return to On Rope!

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users

cron