I have wanted a search rope for some while. Every time I bring it up it is always shot down to expensive, won't work like I think bla bla bla bla......... It seems to be a fairly simple concept. I can't see why it would not work. Now I see it's in the IFSTA Essentials 5th edition. I even seen them use it on a episode of emergency from the 70s.

We do not have large structures (single family homes) but I think it would still be a good tool in the tool box and can't see why it would not work on a single family home. Dont even know why the size of a building would matter.

Do you use them?

Do they work and is there problems?

General thoughts on the subject or input to add?

Thanks John

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We use them and they do work, but it is something to train with and get familiar with. The nice thing with a search rope is it isn't heavy and bulky like a charged hoseline, you can still move quick. If you get low on air, you can egress faster and a second search team can pick up where you left off. There are also ways to expand off the searchline if covering large open areas as well, but again it is about training. In the event of a MAYDAY, following the line is a fast way to locate FF's.

How a rope is set up does vary. I have seen them with chemlights to mark distance, or knots to mark distance etc. For us, we have 200' in a ropebag, a figure 8 tied on both ends with a carabiner attached. If going in with the line, we attach an end outside and bring the bag in with us. If we had to leave, we can leave the bag where we stopped so the next crew can pick up where we let off.

As for cost, really rope is not that expensive, especially compared to the loss of a FF because they couldn't be located, etc. Rope is a cheap tool with many different uses to be considered too expensive.
We,ve never used a rope in a real situation atleast since I've been on the department.We have practiced it though a few times.
as far as cost like john said seriously too expensive.Most people probably have enough empty beer cans layin around in the garage to by a roll of rope.If i weigh out losing a buddy or having a rope to find my buddy quicker the rope is priceless.
I work with departments and getting them search ropes frequently. The ropes with the reflective tracers are the way to go. If you get separated, you at least have a chance of finding the rope again. The ropes are in the $1.00/foot range. Some are a little more, some are less. Don't forget, the size of the rope doea matter. Small ropes are hard to feel in fire gloves. Big ropes are bulky, there is a happy medium.
Since RIT training last year we have a search rope bag. I personnally do not see it being used in single family homes (mobile home and single floor) but commercial buildings and multi family they are well worth the time and money. You do need to practice using the rope bag. Yes there are many different ways to set up and use.

Research them and find the one that works best for department. Ours is set up with a steel ring (about 2”) then a knot, noting 20’, then the next 20’ will have a steel ring and 2 knots, noting 40’, and ect. Knot/knots then ring is the way out, ring then knots to the objective. Problems we have and it just takes practice is feeding the rope out of the bag, holding the bag and trying to manage other task. Like I said practice.
We don't use them either.It probably would be a good idea to use them though but unfortunately its not my call to make or I'd do and get a lot of things we needed.We just throw our air packs on and hope for the best when we have to go inside a fire.Around here we just have a few small businesses,some apartment complexes and residential homes.We've only had to actually go inside one time since I've been on the department and thats because the fire was burning in the attic of a home and we had to go inside to put it out.But in the event we have to go in and get somebody out then I believe we should have a search rope.
Oh and I know this has nothing to do with being a FF but it does kinda go with the discussion.Any way when i worked Underground in the coal mines We had Reflective ropes hung from the top that stretched down our Intake airway.It had little cones every so often that you could rub your hands across to make sure you were going the right way i.e. if you were sliding your hand down the rope and it stopped because you hit the ROUND END of the cone you were ging the wrong way and as long as you're hands kept sliding across then you were going the right way.
Hope you understand what I meant by the cones.lol
You can also set up the search rope to have inline figure 8s at regular intervals. One firefighter will stay oriented on the mainline search rope, while the other firefighter(s) hooks into one of the figure 8s with a carabiner and his own life safety rope. This setup works well in high occupancy residential buildings, as well as large commercial and industrial buildings, and probably could be adapted for an sfd.
Do you use them?

Yes we have them and use them on my department however they are just a tool to make us better and safer so as with all tools in our tool box we need to know when to and when not to use them. There are many situations where you would want to use rope for searching. Here are just a few large, complex structure,factories, assembly halls, malls, mega-mansions,churches and department stores. Search rope can be used in many ways as well. The 2 main types of searches would be Team(Large Area) Searches and Oriented Searches. These types of searches are a little more advanced than just a simple right or left hand wall search and require training however when we are talking the PRICE of our life and citzens we protect I think the small investment for rope is well worth it.

Do they work and is there problems?

Yes they work when used right! however you are right most people don't use them on smaller single family dwelling because of layout and getting tangled on stuff in the house.

General thoughts on the subject or input to add?

I have been teaching search classes for many years now and it is sad to say but in my travels most departments just teach and know how to do the basics. Searching a fire building is one of the most dangerous and important task we will ever do as firefighters however we spend so little time training on it!!

John, I see you are from Indiana I am as well and teach most of the search classes is District 7 so wanted to let you know you are more than welcome to attend anytime I teach. Also a buddy of mine from Bloomington Fire and I are talking about doing a advanced search class this summer with live fire, so might want to watch for info about that class soon.

I have attached a file on rope assisted searches because it goes more into getting started with search rope hope you enjoy.

Any more questions feel free to email me liet607@gmail.com

John Shafer
We use them for large area searches and for RIT operations. We usually don't use them for small to medium sized residentials, but they do work. Not only do they work but they save lives. 
We use search ropes in large area structures & for RIT. Large areas being warehouses,factories, schools.

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