Orange County firefighters use new rope training for high-angle rescues

New rope allows for quicker response

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – It may look like a lot of work, but several firefighters with Orange County Fire Rescue said it takes a couple of steps when it comes to using ropes during a high-angle rescue call.

On Thursday, Orange County Fire Rescue held a special operations training at the Orange County Convention Center to learn how to use a new rope that allows them to make knots faster and easier during an emergency.

“We had larger diameter rope, which was heavier and harder to tie knots, so we are going to a smaller rope it’s just as strong as the older ropes, so it just makes it easier. It’s lighter to carry,” said Lt. Ralph Astarita with OCFR Special Operations.

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Astarita said they have a total of 330 rope techs within the fire department but only 69 are climbers.

“We have a climb team, so some of us are climbers but we also have regular rope technicians out on trucks and squads. That’s were kind of doing is bringing both disciplines together as closely as possible,” he said.

Orange County Fire Rescue crews during a high-angle rescue training on July 22, 2021. (WKMG 2021)

Orange County Fire Rescue had about six to eight high-angle rescue calls within the last couple of weeks.

Earlier this month, firefighters had to rescue a family that was stuck in an elevator at a hotel on International Drive.

Astarita said this training is extremely crucial, especially with big attractions like The Wheel at Icon Park, he wants to make sure his team is ready to go in case of an emergency.

“That’s where all this equipment falls in, it’s lined up with what the Icon has out there with the equipment that they bought for their rescue,” he said.

About the Author:

Ezzy Castro is a multimedia journalist on News 6's morning team who has a passion for telling the stories of the people in the Central Florida community. Ezzy worked at WFOR CBS4 in South Florida and KBMT in Beaumont, Texas, where she covered Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Being from Miami, Ezzy loves Cuban coffee and croquetas!