The Next Step In Safer Fire Fighting Ventilation Operations


Firefighter Nation Gear Test: Quick Step Anchor

The Quick Step Anchor proves to be a stable, sturdy, easy-to-use tool that ensures safe footing on rooftops.

One challenge firefighters face when working on rooftops is maintaining good footing, especially when roof pitches are steep or weather-worn. Many common footing techniques require not only a tool, but a firefighter to stabilize it during the operation. Robert Duffy, a 19-year fire service veteran and member of the Springfield (Mass.) Fire Department, has created a solution in the form of the Quick Step Anchor (QSA), a lightweight footing device that was designed with safety and functionality in mind.

Right out of the box, this “safety step” looks and feels extremely lightweight and well put together. The welds were clean, and it had a lanyard securely attached to it with a couple of carabiners. The step also features adjustment slots on each end that allow the step to change angles depending on the roof pitch. Two curved anchor points hang off the end and are securely attached to stout bolts.

Although this is obviously a well-thought-out and well-built device, I wanted to see how efficient and practical it was when operating on a roof. Rooftop operations often occur as a rapid sequence of set events, which means the QSA definitely needs to be simple to set up and operate if it’s going to be useful.

A big part of using anything on the fireground is the ease with which we can get it where it needs to go. Using advice from the QSA’s website, we used the lanyard as a strap to carry the device. I tested this by throwing the loop over my head; as a second test, I carried it over my shoulder. Either means of transport was very simple, even while wearing SCBA and a facepiece.  Because the QSA is so lightweight, it’s not a hindrance when climbing a ladder or moving across the roof.

My biggest concern about this tool: whether it could realistically be set up on a roof in an adequate time while crews inside were begging for ventilation. So the next series of tests were done to check the true functionality of the device.

Using a quick kerf cut, the device was set up in just a few seconds. There are not many moving parts on the QSA, so as the sawyer was making a quick cut, the sounder was preparing to deploy the QSA. Simply put, the step was really easy to set up.

After the step was set, we cut holes using it as a footing device. Just like any type of footing, placement is paramount, and the QSA is no different. Once set in the proper location, this device was an excellent platform to work off of. The sawyer could place their foot completely on the step or just use it to prevent themselves from sliding down. The step was more than secure and it was tested at pitches from 5:12 to 10:12 inclines.

Once attached to the lanyard that came with the QSA, I wanted to see how the device withstood a shock load of body weight to replicate what would happen if a sawyer lost their footing and slid down the roof. At various roof pitches, the QSA did not budge and was more than an adequate anchor point. Once the sawyer regained their composure, they could easily use the lanyard to climb back up toward the step or quickly disconnect from the carabiner and get off the roof.

Rescuing one of our own from a roof is always a good training topic. There are several techniques for removing a firefighter from a roof; lowering them down via a rope (especially in buildings that feature multiple floors) is an extremely effective means during operations that require rapid escape. I especially like the QSA for this type of scenario because I found it to be solid enough to use as an anchor point for an emergency descent of a firefighter in a “save our own” operation. This will definitely require some advanced training time, but between rescue rope, the QSA and friction, the device could be used very practically to lower a firefighter off the roof in an emergency situation.

The removal of the device is just as easy as the set-up. I pretty much flipped the step back over, grabbed hold of the anchoring hooks and removed it with ease, even while wearing fire gloves. Another major plus: This device can be set up and left alone; you don’t need to commit a firefighter to it after set-up.

Note: I performed all these tests on a training prop, so it’s important to understand that smoke and fire coming out of the vent hole may pose some challenges when removing the step on a real fire. Again, placement of the QSA is key; it should be placed in a spot that’s not bordering the vent hole.

I really liked the QSA and definitely feel it has its place on the truck. Just like every other tool, it won’t be used on every rooftop operation, just those where weather or roof pitch would require us to use some kind of footing aide.

And as with everything we use, training is a must, and the QSA has a very user friendly website that aids in this process by providing a how-to video. Simply put, the QSA can benefit firefighters operating on rooftops that pose footing issues or where an anchor point is needed for firefighter rescue.

Quick Step Anchor

+ Sturdy, lightweight construction
+ Simple to set up and remove
+ Can be used as an anchor point for emergency descent
+ Remains in place with varying roof pitches
+ Does not require a firefighter to be committed to it
+ Can withstand shock load of body weight

-  None.

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