An Approach for Quantifying Dynamic Properties and Simulated Deployment Loading of Fire Service Escape Rope Systems

Authors

  • D.A. Martin,

    1. Illinois Fire Service Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL
    Search for more papers by this author
  • M. Obstalecki,

    1. Illinois Fire Service Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL
    2. Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
    Search for more papers by this author
  • P. Kurath,

    1. Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL
    Search for more papers by this author
  • G.P. Horn

    Corresponding author
    1. Illinois Fire Service Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL
    2. Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL
    • Correspondence

      G.P. Horn,

      Illinois Fire Service Institute,

      University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,

      11 Gerty Drive,

      Champaign,

      IL 61820

      USA

      Email: ghorn@illinois.edu

    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

Rope systems are simple mechanical structures that provide life-critical protection from dynamic loading in a variety of applications where falls from height are possible. Recently, the Fire Service has realized the importance of using fall protection systems while endeavoring to gain a better understanding of how these systems will respond during fire ground deployments. A new extensometer, utilizing a linear variable differential transformer, was designed to advance the ability to characterize the dynamic and static properties of these ropes. A series of experiments were conducted to replicate various deployment scenarios, quantifying the effect of fall height, payout length, and ledge geometry on the dynamic loads a firefighter and his/her equipment may expect in realistic escape scenarios utilizing common rope systems. These loads are compared to occupational health-safety-based maximum load recommendations and the quasistatic strength of the rope. While the ropes constructed from all aramid fibers were the strongest in standard quasistatic tests; during dynamic loading they generated the largest maximum arrest loads that were consistently above the occupational health-safety recommended load of 8 kN. Finally, using the experimentally determined rope properties measured with the new extensometer, positive agreement was found between the experimental drop tests and numerical simulations.

Ancillary