Testing: Fire Escape Anchors

Words: Mike Forbes | Images: Mike Forbes and Joe Klementovich Nov 5th 2016
an in-use image showing a Sterling Rope Fire Escape Anchor

Sterling is dedicated to producing the best possible product, and that means researching and testing our products thoroughly. Some testing is required for certification, but that’s only the beginning. We submit our ropes to a battery of tests, which simulate field conditions in a controlled environment, so we can have the highest level of confidence that they will perform when needed. The testing will vary depending on the questions we want to answer and the expected usage of the rope.

In addition to in-house testing, field testing and 3rd party certified testing labs, we need specialized procedures and equipment to produce real fireground conditions. By the time these tools are deployed in the field, we need to be assured they will perform as required under harsh conditions.

Fire escape systems present unique challenges when it comes to testing. We developed specialized testing procedures designed to simulate real fire conditions: high heat, rollover, and flashover. We subjected our anchor hooks and escape ropes to these conditions for a set period of time or until failure. This test was a winner of the Best New Research Award at the 2016 International Technical Rescue Symposium.

in-use image of anchor hooks and escape ropes during simulated real fire condition tests

General Testing Parameters

Hook Types Tested:  Lightning GT™ (machined aluminum) & Crosby (forged steel)

Rope Types Tested: 7.5 mm FireTech2™ (100% Technora®) & 8.0 mm PER (100% Nylon)

System Tension: All tests were set up with a 300-lb load on each rope.

Test Temperature Goal: 1200° F for the test “room” environment, though the temperature varied by actual location.

Anchor Location: In accordance with personal escape system guidelines, we tested systems with two anchor locations:

Remote Anchor: Simulated placement inside the room of the burning building, akin to wrapping system around a pipe or some other in-room anchor point.

Window Sill: Attaching the hook directly to the window sill, relying on the tip of the hook to dig into the sill in order to secure the position.

Fuel Load: Tests were run with three different dry wood fuel loads: Small, Medium and Large. While these three loads were designed to burn at approximately same maximum temperature, the larger the fuel load, the faster the max temperature was achieved and the longer it was sustained. Large load is the worst case fire scenario.

Fire Test Results & Takeaways from this procedure

Below is a chart showing the general conditions for and results of each test. High-level results revealed the following key points:

No failures occurred prior to nine minutes during any test.

Remote anchors failed sooner than sill anchors: they are exposed to more heat and direct flame.

No Technora ropes failed when the hook was anchored at the sill.

Aluminum hooks can begin to twist in the remote anchor configuration, however, no hook failed during any test.

Fire Chart