The Halyard Quick Tie
(See Youtube link at bottom)
To tie or not to tie? That’s one of the biggest debates on the internet. Couple that with fly in vs fly out and you’ll break the internet with the discussion.
The halyard is not tested as part of annual ladder testing. We’ve all seen the old Manila rope break. That’s one of our biggest excuses for not relying on it to tie off the fly section when extended. The second excuse people use is that there are no documented failures of dawgs failing.
I’ll concede both of these points. But the reason to tie the halyard doesn’t fall to either one.
When not to tie:
If you want to be able to relocate or extend/retract the ladder on a moment’s notice. When we’re throwing these for VES or RIT, it’s a good idea not to tie the halyard. With RIT, realistically for most of us, one ladder per side is what we are shooting for. We want to be able to move it to wherever a brother presents trying to escape. If the house is on a slab with level yard all the way around, all we will have to worry about is moving laterally which can be accomplished several ways such as the roll. However if the house is built into terrain, you could easily have to add length to the ladder when moved down the side of the house.
For VES, we want to be able to quickly reposition the ladder after we come back out and move on to the next window.
When to tie:
Two reasons to tie are victims presenting at windows and 3 section 35 footers. If you are throwing a ladder to a victim that has presented at a window or balcony, one possibility that exists and happens is for the victim to reach out and “assist” pulling the ladder into place. When the victim grabs the top rung, you run the very real risk of the dawgs being disengaged. This is a situation where you should take the 3 seconds to tie the halyard before you climb.
With 3 section 35 footers you have two sets of dawgs. For multiple reasons including poor maintenance it’s possible for the dawgs to not engage, as with any ladder. However with the height of the second set of dawgs it will be harder to visualize that they are locked into place. This is another time to tie the halyard.
The Quick Tie in this video takes less than 5 seconds with practice. It’s an easy way to tie a clove hitch. Add an overhand safety if you wish or don’t, that’s your call.
The key is big movements. Practice with your coat and gloves on. The cuff of your jacket and glove will catch if you make small movements.
Also, for the love of all things holy, when your engine/truck comes in from the factory DO NOT keep you halyard wrapped around the fly and bed section. Tie the end of the halyard to the bed section so that there is nothing to untie when you go to raise the ladder.