Rope rescue is a highly specialized function performed by some fire departments. It involves the use of special equipment and training to complete rescues from areas such as structures, rough terrain, confined spaces and water.


Rope rescue may occur infrequently and long after initial training has taken place. Over time there may be a reduction in the skills and knowledge necessary to perform these tasks safely and competently.

Actions for employers

Employers should:

  • develop training manuals and standard operating procedures in support of the rope rescue service being provided
  • ensure workers receive regular and ongoing training and practice to maintain the skills and knowledge necessary to perform these tasks safely and competently, particularly if the frequency of these emergencies will be low

Rope rescue program

Consider the following, as part of a rope rescue program:

  • training is conducted by competent instructors who are qualified to instruct in rope rescue disciplines on the basis of knowledge, training and experience
  • equipment and training is provided in accordance with the rope rescue service that will be provided
  • equipment and trained personnel are available to provide adequate backup and support for primary rescuers during a rope rescue
  • formal processes and protocols are established and maintained for the acquisition, inspection, testing and replacement of all rope rescue equipment

Applicable regulations and acts


  • Occupational Health and Safety Act
    • clause 25(2)(a) for providing information and instruction to a worker
    • clause 25(2)(h) for taking every precaution reasonable to protect workers

Applicable standards

Read Chapter 5 Rope Rescue of NFPA 1670 Standard on operations and training for technical search and rescue incidents, 2017, for information on levels of service – awareness level, operations level and technician level.


Read firefighter guidance note 1-5 Life safety rope and equipment.