Fundamental Ropes and Knots for the Fire Ground

Welcome to "Ropes and Knots for the Fire Service"!

So you want to learn the knots that you will really use on a fire scene without the distractions of complicated knots you will never use?  

About firefighting knots

Three aspects of a good fire knot

Fast

The knot can be tied quickly

Easy 

The knot can be tied without visibility and while wearing gloves

Reliable 

The knot will not slip or come untied

Choose the most appropriate answers

A good firefighting knot has  3 aspects: you must be able to tie it with and it must  .

Rope and Knot Elements

Elements

  • Standing End - The end of the rope that is in the rope bag or on the ground while tying
  • Running End - The end of the rope that is being used to tie with, also called "working end".
  • Bight - A curve in a rope in which the ends cross.
  • Loop - A curve in a rope in which the ends cross.
    • Underhand Loop - the standing end is looped under the running end.
    • Overhand Loop -the running end is looped under the standing end.
  • Turn - When a rope is curved around a tool or object a single time and continues in the same direction.
  • Round Turn - When a rope is curved around a tool or object more than once and returns in the same direction.

Match the knot tying term with the proper definition

  • Running End
    The end of the rope used for tying knots
  • Standing End
    The end of a rope not used for tying knots
  • Bight
    A curve in a rope with the ends not crossing
  • Loop
    A curve in a rope with the ends crossed
  • Turn
    A curve in a rope around an object or tool in which the running end continues away from the standing end
  • Round Turn
    A curve around a tool or object in which the rope running end returns in the direction of the standing end

Which of these photos shows a round turn?

Which of these photos shows a bight

Which of these photos shows a loop

Firefighting Knots

Five knots you will use on the fireground

Five Knots you will use on a fire scene

  • Figure 8
  • Figure 8 on a bight
  • Half-hitch
  • Clove-hitch
  • Girth-hitch

Tying figure 8 knots

How to tie a figure 8

  1. Create a bight
  2. Twist the bight to create an overhead loop
  3. Pull the running end over the standing end and through the loop
  4. Dress the knot by pulling the running end tight

Figure 8 - the most useful knot on a foreground

  • Creates a loop that can be used for many purposes that will not come untied
  • Can be used to hoist tools
  • Can be used to pull victims or downed firefighters
  • Can be used to secure onto an object or anchor point

Step 1.

Create a large bight.

Step 2. 

Create a loop by pulling the bight over the two rope ends.

Step 3. 

Pull the bight back under the rope ends.

Step 4.

Pull the bight through the loop, creating the figure 8

Step 5.

Dress the knot by pulling the rope ends and the bight in opposite directions

How to tie a figure 8

This video demonstrates that a figure 8 can be tied with gloves in about two seconds

Mark if the following statements about figure 8 knots are true or false:

  • Figure 8 knots can be tied with the gloved hand
  • Figure 8 knots sometimes slip unless you follow with a safety knot
  • Hoisting tools is a good use of a figure 8 on a bight
  • Figure 8 knots cannot be tied around an object or anchor point
  • A disadvantage of figure 8 knots is that they take quite a while to tie

Half Hitch

The half hitch is a quick way to stabilize items being hoisted

The half hitch is used above the primary knot being used to hoist a tool, to allow the tool to stay stable and upright in the direction required for safety.

The half hitch is a great fit for firefighting

You remember in section one we talked about the aspects of a good firefighting knot - the half hitch is very fast and very easy.

Finish the knot with a second knot for extra stability

It's a matter of personal preference, you can use either one or two half hitches above the primary hoisting knot which would be a figure 8 on a bight or a clove hitch - depending on the tool being hoisted.

Chose the correct answers about half hitch knots

  • Half hitch knots are among the easiest knots to tie on the fire ground
  • Never put a half hitch above another knot
  • Tying a half hitch can be accomplished quickly
  • You can use half hitches to keep a tool upright when hoisting

Clove Hitch

The main use of the clove hitch is tool hoisting

The clove hitch is one of the few knots that is easy to tie with an end or in the middle.  It is actually easier to tie in the middle and can be accomplished quite easily and quickly with my method

Tying the clove hitch in the middle of the rope

Most knots are easier to tie using the running or working end.  Not the clove hitch.  You can use the 5 steps above, or you can follow the method used in the video next.

It's unusual to tie the clove hitch with an end

Because it's typically used to hoist tools, which requires the running end to be above the ground level and a working end long enough to use for stabilizing the tool while being hoisted, this knot is normally tied in the middle rather than an end.  It can be used for trying to an object that you cannot slip the knot over an end, such as a saw handle.  

Fill in the blanks in this statement about clove hitch knots

A clove hitch is typically tied .  It can be tied by using two .  The primary use for clove hitches is 

Girth Hitch

The reliable girth hitch

If you really need a knot that cannot come untied, this is your knot.  The caveat is that you must have at least one end, and its easiest if you have both ends available to pass through the bight.  You can tie a girth hitch with rope or tubing.  It is commonly used with tubing loops as you will see in the next slide.  It can be used to tie to anchor points, tools and other ropes.  

Tying a girth hitch

Wrap the loop you have created around your object.  Pass the entire rope or tubing through the loop and synch tight.  

A girth hitch can be tied with a figure 8 on a bight

As long as you can pull the entire length of rope through the bight, you can use a figure 8 on a bight to tie a girth hitch.

Finishing the girth hitch on a figure 8 bight

Pull the knot and the remainder of the rope through the bight and synch tight.

Tying a girth hitch without access to the ends

You can use a girth hitch if you don't have access to the ends, but only if you can slide the hitch over the end of the object you are tying to.  

Finishing the hitch tied in the middle

This is a great way to complete tying to an anchor point that you can access one end of.  

What are the recommended uses for a girth hitch

  • Hoisting tools
  • Anchor points
  • Securing hose to a hydrant
  • Ensuring your lieutenant doesn't lose his radio

Knots Used to Hoist Tools

Basic Hoisting Knots

Knots hoisting tools must be reliable

To keep tools from falling and injuring firefighters below or damaging tools and buildings, tools must be tied in the middle of the rope to provide a hoisting running end and a stabilizing working end.  A secure primary knot - usually a clove hitch or figure 8 on a bight - should be followed by one or two half hitches.   

Hoisting an axe with primary clove hitch

This is accomplished by a quick succession of easy half hitches.  Tie a half hitch and slide it to the bottom, then tie another and slide it to the first to create a clove hitch and synch it tight.  Then tie two more half hitches, one halfway up the handle and the next at the top.  

Hoisting an axe with primary figure 8 on a bight

Tie a figure 8 on a large bight and slide it over the handle to the bottom, then finish with two half hitches to stabilize the tool.  

Hoisting pike poles

Due to having a very small working head, pike poles can only be tied with a primary clove hitch.  Place the clove hitch and the bottom, and finish with two half hitches.

Hoisting a charged hose line - steps 1-3

Hoisting a charge hose line requires special considerations to ensure that the nozzle does not become opened during hoisting, either by the hose or snagging on anything on the way up.  This is accomplished by directing the running end under and then back over the bail so that the weight of the hose keeps the house taught on the bail forcing closed.  This is accomplished by first placing a close hitch around the hose about two feet below the nozzle, then creating an underhand loop through the bail...

cont. on next slide (photos are using an uncharged line but the process is exactly the same)

Hoisting charged hose line steps 4-6

Take the loop that you passed under the bail and loop it over the nozzle.  Pull the running end upwards. Pulling the running end will pull the bail closed during hoisting.

(photos are using an uncharged line but the process is exactly the same)

Hoisting a dry hose line

Hoisting a dry line is accomplished similarly to hoisting tools.  Fold the hose over itself about 3' from the nozzle.  Just a few inches from the nozzle, tie a half hitch, then a few inches from the fold, tie a half hitch and raise.  If you prefer, you can tie a second half hitch about halfway up.   

Match the object being raised with the proper knots

  • Charged hose line
    Clove hitch and half hitch through the bail and around the nozzle
  • Axe
    Primary knot can be clove hitch or figure 8 on a bight finished with two half hitches
  • Pike Pole
    Clove hitch and two half hitches
  • Uncharged hose line
    Clove hitch finished with one or two half hitches near the fold
  • Chain saw
    Figure 8 follow through

Check what you learned

List the order that knots are tied when hoisting an axe

  • Tie a figure 8 on a large bight
  • slide the bight around the handle and down to the head of the axe and around it
  • tie a half hitch and slide it to the middle of the axe handle
  • tie a half hitch and slide it to the top of the axe handle

Identify the knot element turn

Identify the knot element bight

Identify the knot element round turn

Place the proper elements names next the the element on the rope sample.

  • Standing End
  • Running End
  • Bight
  • Underhand Loop
  • Overhand Loop
  • Turn
  • Round Turn

Identify the Figure 8 Knot

Identify the Clove Hitch

identify the Girth Hitch

Identify the Half Hitch

Identify the Figure 8 on a Bight

Name the three required aspects of a safe and efficient fire ground knot

Aspect one of a safe and efficient knot is that is must be tied  

Aspect two of a safe and efficient knot is that you must be able to tie it  

The final aspect of a safe and efficient fire ground knot is that it must not