After misreading the original debate on these forums about the use of the Figure 8 KNOT, I wanted to really get a controversial debate and discussion going about the use of the Figure 8 DESCENDER in rescue.

I for one, will never advocate or promte the use of the Figure 8 for any part of a rope rescue, wheter it be as a descender, belay device, etc.

Here's my reasons, not in any order-

1) No safety mechanism- The Figure 8 has no single or double stop mechanism

2) Human Factor 1- The Figure 8 relies on the rescue having at least one hand on the rope at all times. In a a "lost footing" situation or similar, the rescue can let go of the rope to catch themselves, resulting in a fall

3) Human Factor 2- Two different ways to reeve it. Depending on what way you're taught, you can come up from the bottom or from on top of the device (Does that makes sense?) THis can result in larks heading the device if the unit/rope gets caught on an edge. This in turn can lock up the descender leaving the rescuer stranded.

4) Multiple lock offs- The device can be locked off multiple ways- again they all have different pro's and con's. THis can create confusion to members that may be used to one way, and then having to be taught another way, etc.

5) Load ratings- Again, depending on the type and brand used, there's a load of different load ratings. Again, adds to the confusion.

6) Hands off test- One of the tests we do here when training is to blow the whistle. Every member of the team should be able to take their hands off everything and no one should be able to move or be in danger. With a figure 8, you let you, you fall.

7) Casualty/Rescue safety- If the casualty is combattant (spelling?) or panics, they can put both them and the rescuer in danger by knocking them, etc.

8) Friction- The unit heats up very quickly and is really only best suited to short rappels.

9) Human Factor 3- The unit reuqires the operator to control the speed/friction by hand. This can be too hard to control in a rescue situation.

10) Human Factor 4- Load it up with a rescue and a casulty and you've just increased the isuses around controlling the device and the friction.

For me, I'll take a double stop descender any day over an 8. Recreationally I use the 8 for quick small jumps, but that's it.

Now I know this is going to be controversial, so let's hear your thoughts, but be nice about it!!!!!

Views: 7581

Replies to This Discussion

hi Lutan? Im santos from argentina
as you ll see my inglish it s ugly but I try to do the best, here in my fire department we make a group of 4 people to work in rescue with rope and we make a few practice with personal special in this area,
they explain that we have to use all the material that we have, Im agree with you to use a doble stop or another sistem but if you have problem in your principal line (rope) you have to Know to change to a secundary line, and if you have a 8 you have to sistem to lock it
I use to descender a daisy chain (margarita chain), you conect the daisy to the arnes and the 8 on the other side, the 8 works normaly the diference it s that now you have the 8 a distance not more longer that your arm extended, and the brake of this system consist to make a prusik or a machard that conect the rope behind the 8 with the arnes, ok friend I ll take a few photos of this sistem and I going to send to you. stay safe, a friend from argentina.

Is a ladder bar like a rack?
I see your point, and I agree that a rack is good to use. I will take a better look at the double stop descender. I personally presently use a Q eight that has the ears on the side. Very easy to control and lock off. Our team does an aweful lot of training and we like to try ideas from other teams and/or members of teams.
Hi Bob- you're spot on about the 8. It is easy to use and lock off, but from a safety persepctive- there is none!

There's no hands off use, no fail safes, etc. It relies 100% on you to control it and maintain safety.

Try a few different double stops. Personnally, I like the SRT Double Stop

or the Fallright Auto Stop
Very neat product, I never heard of these before til you mentioned them. They appear to be very safe and easy to use. I should have mentioned that our team members ALWAYS use a prusik as a safety. I will, however, show the members this item. We are always looking for new products. Thanks and i'm sure we will be talking again. Bob
I've got 2 of the Fallright ones in my personal kit- they're so easy to use.

Let go and it locks, panic and pull the handle all the way down and it stops....


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