Safety/Communication™ Rope – FAQs

  1. What is Safety/Communication™ Rope? 

The Safety/Communication Rope™ is a high-performance life safety rope with a built-in communication wire.  It is the only communication rope of its kind and is approved to meet stringent NFPA* requirements.  It is only available for use with the Rescom Classic, Modular and Elite Systems.

The Rescom Safety/Communication™ Rope improves efficiency, safety and confidence during confined space, or high angle operations.  Our rope contains communication wires within its core, while maintaining a 10,000 lb. + tensile strength.  By combining communications with safety, deployment becomes faster and line management becomes easier.  The rope is available in multiple colors to enhance the line management further.  The rope can be used as a primary or secondary rescue line. 

  1. Is the Rescom system and its Rope appropriate for confined space entry and high-angle rescues?

The Rescom® Rope is in fact designed, first and foremost, for Confined Space Entry and Rescue.  Although certain types of communications ropes are built for other applications such as diving, not all communication ropes are alike.  Its unique construction allows it to meet the high standards demanded by confined space entry and rescue professionals, such as, OSHA*, MSHA* and the NFPA*.  We are certified by several other intrinsic standards such as CSA, UL, ATEX, IECEx, TSSA and ISO 9001:2015. 

The following facts separate the Rescom Rope from other communication ropes:

  • The Rescom System is a full duplex two-wire system, differing from most other confined space systems which use four wires.  Because our system uses only two wires, we are able to produce a communication rope which exceeds the most rigorous standards, with a breaking strength of over 10,000 lbs.
  • The Rescom Rope is part of an intrinsically safe rated system, and has been certified as intrinsically safe for all types of confined spaces when used in combination with the Rescom® Modular™ and Elite™ System.
  • In addition to Intrinsic Safety, the Rescom Rope is certified to NFPA 1983:2017 standards.  Rescom is the only confined space communications product on the market today that features an NFPA* rated life/safety communications rope.
  • The Rescom Rope features a breaking strength which exceeds 10,000 lbs.  We test and certify that it will maintain communications integrity, up to its breaking point of 10,800 lbs.
  • The Rescom Rope can be used with mechanical advantage systems, belayed, tied off, and even used for rapid descent.  The Rescom Rope can be used in exactly the same manner as any other rated rescue rope, with only a few exceptions. (i.e., we do not recommend using the Rescom Rope for high line operations, as the forces involved may exceed the breaking strength of the rope)
  1. What’s the advantage to using communication rope?

The greatest advantage to using a rated communication rope is simple: It enhances worker safety and improves their efficiency.

  • The Rescom Rope can serve as a Primary or Secondary lifeline, while at the same time providing continuous, hands-free communication.  Using the Rescom Rope eliminates the need to add yet another cable to the configuration; easing line management and setup time – an absolutely vital advantage in emergency situations.
  • During a rescue situation, the Rescom Rope may be used to help retrieve the victim, while also providing vital continuous two-way voice contact.  In this way the Rescom Rope is a valuable tool during rescue rather than just another piece of equipment getting in the way.
  • The option of using a rated communications rope makes the use of hardline communication possible in situations where a cable system could be easily compromised.
  • The wired full-duplex communications link provides vital communications in situations where radio contact may be compromised, due to its wireless nature, from 
    • one level to another or 
    • around bends or 
    • “through” complex structures such as large infrastructure, and machinery 
    • from one room to another or 
    • from interior to exterior of steel, concrete and other radio signal shielding situations, or
    • from ground level to workers even miles underground
  1. Won’t the communication wire break as the rope stretches?

No. The communication wire will not break before the rope does.  The breaking strength of the Rescom Rope is 10,800 lbs. With every production run, SED tests that the communication wire will not break before the rope does. 

  • The Rescom Rope has been tested and certified as being able to maintain communication even while under a test weight in excess 9,000 lbs. – the standard tensile strength for a two-man confined space/rescue rope.  It is unlikely the forces involved in the average confined space entry or rescue would exceed that weight.  We have never received a report of communication wires breaking inside the rope while used under normal and recommended conditions.
  • Users and Trainers report they have had Rescom Communication Ropes in regular service for many years, performing tasks ranging from confined space entry and rescues, to rope access, to tactical rappels.  Our Users report they have never had an incident where they have lost communication due to a broken wire inside the rope.
  1. What about shock loading? Isn’t it expensive to replace a communication rope due to shock loading, as opposed to a regular rescue rope?

All rescue ropes have a limited life, as do all communication cables.  However, under average use conditions, and with proper care, the Rescom Rope can have a relatively long and useful life span.  Like all rated rescue ropes, the Rescom Communications Rope requires regular inspection.  The general rule is – “When in doubt retire your rope”.  This may, at first, seem like a drawback to anyone considering exploring the advantages of rated communication ropes.  However, the following should be considered as well:

  • Generally, we recommend that the Rescom Rope be used as the Secondary Lifeline in situations where a significant fall is possible.  Since a regular rescue rope is less expensive to replace, using the Rescom Rope as your secondary will help save it from possible shock loading, while still supplying continuous hands-free communication and simplifying line management. 
  • Should an incident occur that results in shock loading, the communication wires within will remain intact and communication will be maintained throughout, aiding any necessary rescue while at the same time not adding unnecessary additional line management concerns.
  • Ultimately one must consider that the significant advantages realized through the use of a rated communications rope, outweigh the outside risk of having to replace it due to shock loading.  However, should the Rescom Rope be subjected to shock loading, and must be discarded, it will ultimately have served its intended dual purpose well and will have provided the best possible communications security possible. 
  1. Cable is easier to keep clean than rope.

Like all equipment it’s a question of using the right tools for the environment one is going to be working in.  Generally, cable is easier to clean.  However, in most situations any dirt the Rescom Rope contacts during use, can be removed easily. There are several methods we recommend for cleaning Rescom Rope.

A) After use, clean any dirt or mud from the rope surface using a bristle brush.

B) Wash your rope in a washing machine using a mild detergent and soft water.  Hang the rope to dry after washing – ideally in a room temperature of 20° C. (68° F)

(See Rescom Rope Care Instructions

In situations where the entrant is likely to encounter oils, solvents, or other hazardous contaminants, we recommend using our DuraCORE™ Communication Cable instead of the Safety/Communication™ Rope.  If there is doubt as to whether your rope will survive certain chemicals it may be exposed to, we suggest you obtain a rope sample from SED Inc. and test it.  If there is doubt, use a regular rated rescue rope in combination with a DuraCORE™ hardline cable system.

*NFPA – National Fire Protection Agency
*MSHA – Mine Safety and Health Administration
*OSHA – Occupational Safety and Health Administration

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