How to Tie a Fire-escape Knot

Introduction: How to Tie a Fire-escape Knot

This knot is used by firemen in case of fires, for example imagine a scene where the ladder on the firetruck messes up, but people need to get down a five story building or more. All they have is a long piece of rope, they can safely get down with a secure knot like the fire-escape knot. So, why not learn it, it's easy to do, and hard to untie if you tie it tightly.

This is from the American Boys Handbook.

Step 1: Get Your Rope

First grab a piece of rope, and bend it like this to make a loop in it. Follow every step to the smallest detail.

Step 2: Twist the Rope

Now make a twist like this, and hold it together.

Step 3: Pull Through the Twist

Pull the loop through the twist you just made, from underneath.

Step 4: Go Over the Split End

Now pull the tail through the loop.

Step 5: Finally

And finally just pull it through as pictured below.

Congratulations you just learned the fire-escape knot.

Step 6: Same Name, Not Knot

This is another knot called the fire-escape knot, this shouldn't be your result.



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    30 Discussions

    Isn't this just a bowline on a bight?

    I think that a figure 8 knot is much less hassle to work with in this situation. One can either tie it on a bight and loop it over a post, or if the top of the post is inaccessible (perhaps a full-height vertical beam), one can use a follow through figure 8. Either way, the result is the same.

    You now have a rope that is tied off (hopefully to something solid).

    I'm a rock climber and from this point I could easily set up a rappel out my window. I would put on my climbing harness, clip the "rope" (I would use at least an 8mm climbing accessory cord) into my ATC-XP belay device, and exit the window holding a strong grip on the brake end of the cord. Extra carabiners would probably be required for friction purposes on the break end.

    Disclaimer: As anyone who has read a climbing-related article on the internet will know, the information I have presented is not intended to teach a beginner how to rappel. The methods I have described are not designed to be used in rock climbing or rappelling, but rather as a last resort only. I am not liable for any misuse of this information that may result in injury or even death. Seek instruction from competent persons prior to using any of the techniques mentioned here.

    ^Isolating oneself from liability is important. But seriously, if you haven't rappelled substantially before, please go talk to someone knowledgeable who can advise you on the best way to do this. Practice setting up the rappel beforehand so that if, god forbid, and actual emergency were to arise, the setup becomes an "autopilot" mode of sorts.

    If there's enough demand for it, I might make an instructable with this information. Please ask questions! Climbing/ rappelling is very dangerous and I would rather you ask me a question than end up injured because you didn't.

    1 reply

    i bekieve this is also called something like a bowline on a bight

    I think a more practical knot is the one that he give as an example at the end. It is a stack of loops that the end of the rope is pulled through. It can be made in seconds as opposed to minutes, uses less rope, and has less complex bights (bends) in the rope making it stronger. While a bowline is very strong, having to run the end through the loop every time would be too tedious. Try trying a "figure of eight on a bight" for increased speed.

    1 reply

    good instructable. but i dont see the purpose in this knot. I mean like, how would you use it? is it meant for a longer rope and you tie it around something?

    3 replies

    the purpose of this knot is the same as the Double Bowline, but the two are VERY different from each other...the two loops in both types of knots have a loop is what you sit in, and the other loop you pull up to about the middle of your back for support and security...makes it almost imopssible to fall provided your seates correctly...the bowline on a bight is different from the double bowline in the fact that when you tie the BOAB, the loops cannot be adjusted after tying it and when you tie it you will not even come close to the tag ends of the rope...when you tie the DBL bowline, the loops ARE adjustable (so long as you tie it so that you have enough room but not too much) when you finish the if your a freakishly shaped person who has a butt thats really small, and a torso thats hughe...well, youll be able to fit comfortably...likewise if your butt is huge however your torso is tiny. it also is near impossible to sit crooked in the DBL adjusts for that too.

    From what I can tell, it's a variation on a bowline (bow-lihn) knot. When doing a bowlin, you hold the loop in front of you, wrap the rope around your middle, or under your arm pits, do the rest of the knot, and you can be lowered to saftey, or lifted out by a helicopter. Very safe knot under constant load. Here, you'd have to do the knot, then step through it, as you can't pass the loop at the end around anything if you're standing in it. I've heard, and used, the rabbit story when teaching the bowline knot to cub scouts. The loop is a hole in the ground. The rope going away from you is a tree. The rope coming up from behind and out the loop is a rabbit. The rabbit comes out of the hole, goes behind the tree, and goes back into the hole. For this knot, instead of going back into the hole, the rope is passed through the loop at the end of the rope somehow. That part wasn't exactly clear to me.

    This knot is called a "bowline on a bight." A bowline is tied in the end of a rope to make a single, fixed loop that doesn't slip. A bight is the doubled-up part of the rope shown in Step 1. This knot creates 2 fixed loops. Before tightening it up the size of the 2 loops may be adjusted. I have seen this used as the basis for a rope swing, where the larger loop is the seat and the smaller loop goes behind the back and supports the upper body under the arms. This configuration can also serve as a rescue knot for lifting an unconscious person safely. There are a number of uses for a knot in the end of a rope with 2 fixed loops, these are just a few.

     The procedure given for the "fire escape knot", usually called the bowline on the bight, is simply wrong.  It would be impossible to perform it in a hurry on a long rope because the whole length of the rope would have to be pulled through.  The whole point of the bowline on the bight is that it can be tied without access to either end of the rope. Correct instructions for making it may be found in the Ashley Book of Knots, #1080.  Briefly, after step three you open the doubled end you've just put up through the twist and pull it down over the whole knot and back up to get the same final configuration shown here.  This avoids pulling the whole length of the rope through the doubled end.

    1 reply

    It's called a double figure 8.... to hold the carabiners when we are getting lowered down

    nice but instead of american boys handbook i think u meant the boy scout handbook

    The way that this knot works is it is used to lift people out of dangerous locations, usually by helicopter. the two loops that are at the end are for putting your arm through. depending on how small you make the loops it can be used to lift someone that is unconscious. This knot is almost always used with a large rope that is capable of handling the weight of a person. I have no personal knowledge of this knot in action but that is a general explanation that I read in a knot book that I have.

    Nice photos! Why is it called the fire escape knot, though? The one in step 6 looks like it makes sense; You just use the knots to climb down the rope. How does yours work?

    3 replies