Fireman's chair knot

Last updated
Fireman's chair knot
NamesFireman's chair knot, Chair knot, Man-O-War Sheepshank
Category Loop
Related Handcuff knot, Sheepshank, Tom fool's knot
Typical useMakeshift rescue harness or handcuffs
ABoK #1140

A fireman's chair knot (or simply chair knot) is a knot tied in the bight forming two adjustable, lockable loops. The knot consists of a handcuff knot finished with a locking half hitch around each loop. [1] The loops remain adjustable until the half hitches are tightened.



A fireman's chair supporting a person in a horizontal highline configuration Firemans chair knot in use.png
A fireman's chair supporting a person in a horizontal highline configuration

The knot was first introduced by the Victorian chief fire officer Eyre Massey-Shaw in 1876. [2]

Made with suitable rope by qualified personnel this knot can be used as a rescue harness capable of supporting a person while being hoisted or lowered to safety. One loop supports the body, around the chest and under the arms, and the other loop supports the legs, under the knees. Tied towards the middle of a line, one end is used for lowering and the other end can serve as a tagline, to control the victim's position with respect to hazards during the descent. [3] A snug fitting of this knot should restrain the victim, even if unconscious. [4] The fireman's chair can also be used to move a victim laterally when used as a part of a tensioned horizontal highline system.

The fireman's chair knot is considered to be merely a makeshift harness, to be used when conventional rope rescue techniques are not available. It is rarely used by modern rescue teams.

See also

Related Research Articles

Knot Method of fastening or securing linear material

A knot is an intentional complication in cordage which may be practical or decorative, or both. Practical knots are classified by function, including hitches, bends, loop knots, and splices: a hitch fastens a rope to another object; a bend fastens two ends of a rope to each another; a loop knot is any knot creating a loop, and splice denotes any multi-strand knot, including bends and loops. A knot may also refer, in the strictest sense, to a stopper or knob at the end of a rope to keep that end from slipping through a grommet or eye. Knots have excited interest since ancient times for their practical uses, as well as their topological intricacy, studied in the area of mathematics known as knot theory.

Bowline Simple knot used to form a fixed loop at the end of a rope

The bowline is an ancient and simple knot used to form a fixed loop at the end of a rope. It has the virtues of being both easy to tie and untie; most notably, it is easy to untie after being subjected to a load. The bowline is sometimes referred to as King of the knots because of its importance. Along with the sheet bend and the clove hitch, the bowline is often considered one of the most essential knots.

Butterfly loop Knot used to form a fixed loop in the middle of a rope

The butterfly loop, also known as lineman's loop, butterfly knot, alpine butterfly knot and lineman's rider, is a knot used to form a fixed loop in the middle of a rope. Tied in the bight, it can be made in a rope without access to either of the ends; this is a distinct advantage when working with long climbing ropes. The butterfly loop is an excellent mid-line rigging knot; it handles multi-directional loading well and has a symmetrical shape that makes it easy to inspect. In a climbing context it is also useful for traverse lines, some anchors, shortening rope slings, and for isolating damaged sections of rope.


A shank is a type of knot that is used to shorten a rope or take up slack, such as the sheepshank. The sheepshank knot is not stable. It will fall apart under too much load or too little load.

Clove hitch

The clove hitch is a type of knot. Along with the bowline and the sheet bend, it is often considered one of the most important knots. A clove hitch is two successive half-hitches around an object. It is most effectively used as a crossing knot. It can be used as a binding knot, but is not particularly secure in that role. A clove hitch made around the rope's own standing part is known as either two half-hitches or buntline hitch, depending on whether the turns of the clove hitch progress away from or towards the hitched object.

Although the name clove hitch is given by Falconer in his Dictionary of 1769, the knot is much older, having been tied in ratlines at least as early as the first quarter of the sixteenth century. This is shown in early sculpture and paintings. A round turn is taken with the ratline and then a hitch is added below. The forward end is always the first to be made fast.

The difference between two half hitches and the clove hitch is that the former, after a single turn around a spar, is made fast around its own standing part, while the latter is tied directly around the spar.

Truckers hitch

The trucker's hitch is a compound knot commonly used for securing loads on trucks or trailers. This general arrangement, using loops and turns in the rope itself to form a crude block and tackle, has long been used to tension lines and is known by multiple names. Knot author Geoffrey Budworth claims the knot can be traced back to the days when carters and hawkers used horse-drawn conveyances to move their wares from place to place.

Taut-line hitch

The taut-line hitch is an adjustable loop knot for use on lines under tension. It is useful when the length of a line will need to be periodically adjusted in order to maintain tension. It is made by tying a rolling hitch around the standing part after passing around an anchor object. Tension is maintained by sliding the hitch to adjust the size of the loop, thus changing the effective length of the standing part without retying the knot.

Rock-climbing equipment

A wide range of equipment is used during rock or any other type of climbing that includes equipment commonly used to protect a climber against the consequences of a fall.

Bondage positions and methods Wikimedia list article

Bondage is the activity of tying or restraining people using equipment such as chains, cuffs, or collars for mutual erotic pleasure. According to the Kinsey Institute, 12% of females and 22% of males respond erotically to BDSM.

Munter hitch Adjustable knot used control friction in a belay system

The Munter hitch, also known as the Italian hitch, Mezzo Barcaiolo or the Crossing Hitch, is a simple adjustable knot, commonly used by climbers, cavers, and rescuers to control friction in a life-lining or belay system. To climbers, this hitch is also known as HMS, the abbreviation for the German term Halbmastwurfsicherung, meaning half clove hitch belay. This technique can be used with a special "pear-shaped" HMS locking carabiner, or any locking carabiner wide enough to take two turns of the rope.

Cow hitch

The cow hitch, also called the lark's head, is a hitch knot used to attach a rope to an object. The cow hitch comprises a pair of half-hitches tied in opposing directions, as compared to the clove hitch in which the half-hitches are tied in the same direction. It has several variations and is known under a variety of names. It can be tied either with the end of the rope or with a bight.

Handcuff knot

A handcuff knot is a knot tied in the bight having two adjustable loops in opposing directions, able to be tightened around hands or feet. The knot itself does not possess any inherent locking action, and thus is not as easy to use for such purposes as the name might suggest.

Bowline on a bight Knot that makes a pair of fixed-size loops in the middle of a rope

The Bowline on a bight is a knot which makes a pair of fixed-size loops in the middle of a rope. Its advantage is that it is reasonably easy to untie after being exposed to load. This knot can replace the figure-eight loop knot when tying into a climbing harness. It is one of the two tie-in knots that are being taught by the German Alpine Club (DAV), generally being considered secure.

Prusik knot

A Prusik is a friction hitch or knot used to attach a loop of cord around a rope, applied in climbing, canyoneering, mountaineering, caving, rope rescue, ziplining, and by arborists. The term Prusik is a name for both the loops of cord used to tie the hitch and the hitch itself, and the verb is "to prusik". More casually, the term is used for any friction hitch or device that can grab a rope. Due to the pronunciation, the word is often misspelled Prussik, Prussick, or Prussic.

Halter hitch

The halter hitch is a type of knot used to connect a rope to an object. As the name implies, an animal's lead rope, attached to its halter, may be tied to a post or hitching rail with this knot. The benefit of the halter hitch is that it can be easily released by pulling on one end of the rope, even if it is under tension. Some sources show the knot being finished with the free end running through the slipped loop to prevent it from working loose or being untied by a clever animal, still allowing easy but not instant untying.

Harness bend

The harness knot is a general purpose bend knot used to join two ropes together. The knot can be tied under tension and will not capsize.

Shoelace knot

The shoelace knot, or bow knot, is commonly used for tying shoelaces and bow ties.

Radium release hitch

A radium release hitch is a load-releasing hitch using 3:1 mechanical advantage which is used in a two-rope technical rescue system. The Radium Release Hitch allows a load to be transferred from one rope to another and is commonly rigged into the belay line prior to the operation of a two-rope technical rescue system.


  1. Fire-Fighter Handbook – First Edition (PDF). Comhairle Na Seirbhísí Dóiteáin (Fire Services Council). April 2001. p. 4.106. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-20. Retrieved 2011-03-31.
  2. Shaw, John (2004). The Directory of Knots. Rochester: Grange Books. p. 74.
  3. Budworth, Geoffrey (1999). The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Knots. London: Hermes House. p. 206.
  4. Knots: The Art of Working with Knots and Strings The Explorer's Club. Last accessed 06 Dec 2011.