confined space

All posts tagged confined space

Well…it’s Carbon Monoxide (CO), so there isn’t a smell. But there is something interesting going on with the hose lines in this Supplied Air Breathing Apparatus system.

Air Line CO

115 PPM of CO !


While scouring the internet for all things pertinent to Rescue work, our newest member, Jimbo H, found an interesting after action report from LA County. Apparently, two firefighters entered a tank using SCBA to make a rescue of a downed worker. After about 15 minutes the firefighters switched from SCBA to Supplied Air; 3 minutes after the switch is when things started going downhill for them. An attentive  person working the communications kit noticed the firefighters breathing funny and started the process to get them out.


I’m not sure how they switched from SCBA to SABA. It’s possible they switched out their entire system while in the space, which seems like a bad idea. Or, they could have been using their SCBA and then just hooked up to their EBSS or URC from a remote source. If that were the case, the air from the remote source would seem to be the problem.


I’m not sure that the level of CO present in our hoses and in that small of a volume would cause the same problem as experienced in LA County, but it’s interesting to note that bad air can exist in the hoses.

LA County Blue Sheet





While the Arizona Vortex is usually thought of as an industrial and wilderness rescue piece of equipment, it’s no secret that I think its full potential as a tool for the urban rescuer has not been fully explored. With that in mind, we are constantly trying (occasionally failing) to find out how to best use this tool to our advantage.  We’ve been working on different configurations of the Appalachian Wedge Pole (AWP) lately.

The first and perhaps the most useful version of the Wedge Pole is used to create anchors in a hallway where others might not exist. While no permanent name has been found yet, and because it appears to be bombproof, we’ve been calling it the Atomic Wedge Pole. Or Atomic Wedgie for short. As in: “Hey give him an Atomic Wedgie quickly, so we can get on with this rope rescue. ”  But again, no permanent name yet.

Below are some pictures we took during the discovery phase of these anchors, a scale model so to speak. They were loaded with a couple of guys giving it all they had, leaning into the load line. It was an initial test to see if the anchors would move at all. The next step in the process will be to load these with a one person load and operate a raising and lowering system. Then on to a two person load.


A slightly more complex version that allows for a longer haul field that runs toward the edge.


2 to 1 Wedgie

Some techniques might be setups in search of an application, the picture below being one such example. I envision using this above a hole in a hallway, where there are no other anchors present. This might be more of an industrial confined space setup, but it’s neat to see in action.


These pictures above are of urban usage, but we developed the technique out on the rocks. Here are two pictures of the first AWP setups, one horizontal and one vertical, from when the idea first struck.



This last picture comes to us from the men of Group 2 on Rescue 1 with the Boston Fire Department. They constructed an Appalachian Lean-To and changed the direction of the haul line 90 degrees at the head resting on the floor. To counteract the resultant force that wants to lift the left leg away from the wall, they front tied the setup to an anchor spanning the doorway with two AZTEKs, one of which is doing the job of keeping that left leg in compression when it naturally wants to pull away from the wall because of the COD on the head. Good job guys!

sandy lasa

Near Olympia, WA a man was rescued after falling approximately 30′ down a well into waist high standing water. Good heads up by the rescue team when they threw him a PFD to help keep him from drowning into water of an undetermined depth. Note also, the presence of well known volunteer Batt. Chief Andy Speier of the technical rescue team.

A local press release:


Shortly after 10:30 this morning, members of the Thurston County Special Operations Rescue Team (SORT) assisted Mason County Fire District #4 in the rescue of a man that had fallen into an abandoned well at a residence located in the 300 block of SE Arcadia Road near Shelton. According to Andy Speier, Battalion Chief with the McLane Black Lake Fire Department, the man was in the process of demolishing a shed and was standing on what he believed was a four foot deep sump when the earth gave way, plunging him 35 feet down the well into deep water. First responders from Mason County Fire District #4 and the Sheriff’s office were able to successfully lower a floatation device and protective clothing to the man who was treading water to stay afloat.

According to Speier, “With the rescue team in place, Lt. Mark Schreck of the Olympia Fire Department was lowered into the well to prepare the victim to be hoisted back to the surface”. “Once secured in a harness, the man was then hauled up and out of the well”. While the patient was wet and cold, he appeared to be uninjured from the fall.

Technical rescue trained firefighters from Mclane Black Lake, Olympia, East Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater Fire Departments assisted in the rescue.


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Thanks once again to Mike Forbes for the heads up on this.




A pig and a dog walk into … Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke doesn’t it? Really, it’s just the start of a bad day for two animal owners.

Some people like ham during the holidays, this pig in Colorado wanted no part of that family tradition and attempted to bury himself to get away from ending up on the family table. Thankfully, the local FD was on hand to make sure this giant hog didn’t stay in his makeshift hole for too long.

In all seriousness though, how would you have handled this incident had the pig not been able to assist in is own rescue. My initial thought would be to wrap a salvage cover and some large ratchet straps under his belly to make a sling, which could be rigged to a raising system. As for a high point… maybe a couple of ground ladders lashed together at the tip and a block and tackle attached? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Click on the “comment” button (above or below the post, depends on how you’re viewing it). Thanks to Statter911 for making us aware of this one.

In another animal related story, a dog fell down what is believed to be an airshaft for an abandoned mine. The shaft is roughly 150′ deep. The dog was uninjured in the fall and happy as heck to see his owner upon surfacing, naturally. The dogs owner also seems genuinely appreciative of the rope team’s work.

Make sure you click on the link ti the photo gallery to the left of the article. One of the pictures there shows the opening to the hole. It definitely looks like a pretty dangerous opening, with lots of debris ready to fall down the hole. A good high point looks like it would almost be mandatory, so your ropes wouldn’t be rubbing on the edge.

Here are some new AZV uses we at R2T have been testing to see the real world practicality of.  There are some earlier proof of concept pictures on the multimedia page, but these were done in exposure with a two person load. They’re all versions of what we’ve decided to call the Appalachian Doortex (APD), an obvious attempt at getting some East Coast love into the rope world.

The purpose of these APD is to create either an anchor, a high directional, or both simultaneously in the urban environment. The initial thought was for use in elevators, but can obviously work to create an anchor anywhere there is a solid block wall surrounding a door. We run A LOT of stalled elevators in in the city where I work, 15 a day is about average in our geographically small city. Not many require any rope work at all, but the one’s that do can be a real pain. Have you ever looked in an elevator lobby for anchors or a high directional? Not much around. That’s the problem we were trying to solve.

The “Ram’s Head” is the first version we came up with. In this configuration we hooked both MPDs right to the head of the APD; there was no guying, tying, or anything. The foot of the lazy leg was not resting against the opposite wall. Aside from a very minor initial settling in of the APD, it did not move during the operation. It was loaded with a two person load that was raised and lowered several times. One of the MPDs was hooked up in a fashion that caused it to bind against the head of the AZV a bit because it allowed us to have the operating handle facing outward. Because of the angle of the rope leaving the MPD into the elevator shaft, this very minor binding was felt not to be an issue.

Next up is an Upside Down APD, with no clever name given yet. Maybe the Appalachian Lean-To (ALT)? Yup we’ll go with that for now.  Just another way to make an anchor/HD combo. Also loaded with a two person load, operated up and down a bunch.

Here is the close up of the dual MPD anchoring on the Appalachian Lean-To.

Below are two pictures of what we used to keep the the Appalachian Lean-To from kicking back should it have wanted to. It didn’t want to. We had a dynomometer in there to see if there was any force trying to push the ALT away from the opening. The needle didn’t move at all during the operation. We were pulling against an extra leg section of an AZV run through two 4×6 blocks with holes drilled in them to keep the leg section from resting on a small, roll prone contact point on the hoistway doors. We’ve been calling them “Brace Blocks” (Appalachian Brace Blocks?) They worked really well. I suspect they can be used to help span doorways in buildings to create quick, simple anchors in a hallway.

While we have not tested a center pulled AZV leg to failure yet, this one was pulled to 500 lbs without any visible deflection. Further testing on this configuration will be conducted in the near future and we’ll let you know what we find out.

If anybody has any thoughts, questions or comments on this, or would like further training on operating on rope in an urban environment please feel free to leave a comment below or send Kelly an email directly at

From St. Paul Minnesota comes video and pictures of this confined space /trench / rope rescue incident where a worker fell down a hole that he had just bored in the sandy soil for a column for the light rail tracks. Thanks to Collin Moon from Elevated Safety for the heads up on this one.

Clever job by the St Paul guys using a horse collar to hand down to the guy in the pit to raise him up with. All in all a decent looking job done simply; the best way. If I could pick some things to improve, I’d definitely make the bight attached to the rescuers harness smaller, I’d probably control the operation with the rope instead of the bucket (which they may have done but it doesn’t look like it), and I would probably get the two guys out of the bucket during the operation.

Here is a link and two pictures of the incident. The CMC MPD looked to be used in this incident for the mainline.

And the elevator shaft wins! A Lexus SUV was driven in to an elevator shaft designed for vehicles in a parking garage. The problem was, there was no elevator car there. According to the articles, the parking garage has 4 citations against it for elevator problems in the past two years. The driver of the vehicle also has 11 drivers license suspensions against him. It’s like the perfect storm of where you don’t want your vehicle to be parked.


Anyhow, they had to go down the shaft and extricate one of the workers, then stand by while the vehicle was recovered.

Here are two links to the story, the first has a video, the second has pictures.


It seems that some builders have no foresight. For at least the second time in as many months, somebody has crashed through their porch flooring and into a well. This time it was under an overhang, so no aerial was able to be used…. and it was a 60 foot drop. This rope rescue occurred in Hendersonville, NC.

Click here for the article and more pictures:

I imagine that these guys had the same problem as the guys doing a well rescue that we talked about a couple of weeks ago: the tripod is going to want to tip towards the direction of haul because of the resultant force being outside of the tripod footprint. Just looking at the pictures, it might have been possible to use the bottom of the porch column for a change of direction down low to help minimize that.

Also take note of the VERY long bights an the end line figure 8 knots. Those are going to eat up a lot of valuable real estate when trying to get in and out of the hole. The knot passing pulley is also going to eat up quite a bit of that same space. By tightening the bights and using a smaller pulley, it is possible to gain several inches of extra clearance where it is needed most.

Rig Tight!