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Practice using the hitching slot on your Escape Systems Anchor

05052013 086Firefighter Escape Systems anchor hooks have evolved since the introduction of the Crosby S-360 anchor hook.  Most hooks now come with “hitching slots” located on the spine.

Most would agree that this is an improvement because in theory, a user can more easily do a “tie off” through the hitching slot as opposed to tying a clove hitch on the hook.

Through the process of training many students on this maneuver, we have found that some users struggle with feeding the rope through the hitching slot.

After the system is deployed and the user chooses the “tie off” anchor, they place the hook on the rope (H.O.T. = Hard On Top).  They can then use their index or middle finger to push the rope up and through the hitching slot.  They then grab the bight of rope and pull it through.

Easy… right?

Some students struggle with this, though.  There are a few reasons.

1.  The user has bulky or improperly fitted gloves.  The limited dexterity prohibits their ability to feed the rope up and through, and also hinders their ability to grab the rope on the topside of the hook.

2.  Limited visibility and anxiety due to extreme conditions cause the user to struggle and fumble with the system components.

So how do we solve this issue when students struggle?  Practice, practice, practice!

Does the student struggle because his gloves don’t fit?  Is he struggling because of being in untenable conditions?  Are their other reasons?  Users need to continually practice not only the “tie off” procedure, but the entire deployment and use of their personal escape system.

Repetition will build build muscle memory and increased confidence in their equipment.


Article by Donald Colarusso

Don has been in the fire service since 1987 and has served as a Chief Officer for six years in central New Jersey.  Don is a NJ Certified Level 2 Instructor and is also an authorized firefighter escape systems instructor for the Petzl EXO, Sterling F4, RIT Safety Systems, and DEUS Personal Safety System.  



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