Don’t Let Ratchet Straps Make You Look Dumb

Fire rescue ratchet strap vehicle stabilization training, featuring Paratech and VA products.

“You know what will make a firefighter look extremely dumb?” It’s the simple things … like running a ratchet. This firefighter training video captures helpful tips on how to efficiently operate a ratchet strap. This footage was captured during a heavy lifting and stabilization training event in mid-March. (Check back next Tuesday for Part 5 in this training series.)


So, you know what’ll make, you know what will make a firefighter look extremely dumb.

Several things. So there’s three. So look, me and him went to a heavy rescue conference last year. One of the guys talking, he said, this is, this is what they required to get on their rescue company. You got to do three things, like you gotta do practicals. You gotta run a ratchet. You gotta run a high-lift jack. You gotta run a cable come-along. Those three things will make you look dumb. Right?

So a ratchet is one. So let’s talk about ratchets real quick. Some people pull this all the way out or split the difference, right?

Right? And there’s a lot of people wrapped from this point. Right. Some people close this up, wrap it. This is what I like again, I got this from Chief O’Donnell

So typically again, our working length is only about three to four foot for standard vehicles. So if you take this…

I’ll tell you a little alligator story, right? So, Chief O’Donnell from, uh, he’s from South Carolina. He grew up in Charleston, uh, and he said, you know, when you, as a kid, you grew up, you knew you, you never put your hand in the mouth of an alligator. Right, so, don’t stick your, when you’re wrapping this, don’t wrap your ratchet this way. Cause it’s going to come out backwards, was always stick them in the ass. And you can edit that out later [which Fire Spotlight did not].

” ‘Never put your hand in the mouth of an alligator. Always stick them in the ass.’ So wrap it from the back, that way you keep your hands out.”


Stick them in the ass. You never come at an alligator in front. You always come from the back end. Right? So wrap it from the back. That way you keep your hands out.

The other thing he would always say is when you think, when you was in in grade school, right? The Pac-Man points to the lesser or greater, right. So come from the back, pull it up. I know I got a long ways, but doesn’t matter. About waist height, just, just off the ground for me. So I know that’s where I’m at.

For my length wise, I’m going to open this all the way up in a neutral position. And then if my first wrap, is going to be handled down. So both of my hooks are going to fall right here. Both of those hooks, if this was on correctly, which its not bad, or going to line up just like that, that right there is where everybody always gets hung up, but this hook was wrapped this way. It would hang just like that. And now I can see here, wrap this up.

We keep ours in a bag. We’ve got like a little go bag, got two ratchets, three clusters. So when I walk up and I pull this out of the bag, I simply can drop this as I’m walking up there and I’m already at my working length, right. This one goes to my vehicle, this will go to my strut. And I’m already in that position neutral, I can tension it up as much as I need. If I need it longer. Cause I’m doing something like this. I just hand it to you, right? Now I can adjust whatever length I need. It’s just a way, it’s not the right way unless you’re riding in my truck, you ride in my truck, this is the only way. Alright? You’re probably like that too aren’t you?

I like that.

Um, but again, handle with the black handle. Always go down first.

And now when you wrap it, it’s nice and clean. It’s not little stuff sticking out. It’s in the neutral position. So we’re already ready to go. If you lock it in the lock position, again, these things that make you look dumb. If you don’t put your hands on them a lot, it’s two o’clock in the morning in the dark, with gloves on.

You got people yelling and screaming. You’re trying to beat the ladder truck there. You know, to get the extrication, but we still got through stabilization, but, that right there is it. Cool?

Y’all good over there? Or y’all want to say this real quick? We’ll do a training in service training, right?

So, any of the plastic handle ratchets. So if you look at the plastic handle, handle ratchets. Right? So what Paratech or VA, again, I’m gonna claim this is a Paratech thing. It’s not Paratech. Um, so with our ratchets, so think of, think of a rachet, um, as a, uh, kinda like a gear shift.

“Think of a ratchet kinda like a gear shift.”


Right? So we’ve got in your car, where do you put your car, when you want your car to go. Put it in drive. So right now it’s in drive. When I get to a place. When I’m done, in drive and I want to go get out of the vehicle to go inside the Starbucks. Where if you go right, you go get your cold drinks. Oh, what do I do?

So I’ll put it in park. So put it in park is always going to be this position. That’s the lock position. Why do we put it in park?

So it don’t go nowhere.

So somebody doesn’t accidentally come by and can push your car out of the away. Right?

What’s the other position that we don’t use anymore. A lot of people use it in standard drive this what?


Alright, so neutral. So where is neutral? Neutral is gonna be all the way to the front. So when I put it in the neutral, what happens with my ratchet?

Free spins.

It free spins, so that means I can break it loose, right? The one option Paratech or VA products has done. If you look on this ratchet real quick, if I don’t fall over..

So if I’m all the way back, that’s in park. Right? So you got your two nipples, right here, its in park. This handle won’t come out. To disengage it. If I’m in a manual transmission. What do I got to do take it out of one gear, put it in another. I got to pull my clutch. This right here is my clutch. Okay. So I pulled my clutch, take it out of park.

I go straight into drive. Now I’m into drive. I can go as much as I want to go. Correct?. When I get done. I’m going to put it back in park. With this. I’m going to put just a little bit of tension.

The cool thing about this is, is most ratchets that you find, we need to take out a little bit. What have we got to do?

So, if I go all the way to neutral. How does it release this? Is it releasing in a controlled manner.

It just pops.

It’ll pop it and it’s free spin. Right? So what if I’m doing a lift, if I’m using, if I’m using ratchets, I need to do a lift and I need to let it out just a little bit. Right? So VA products has created this one actually has reverse.

The only ones that has the reverse is the ones with a rubber or the plastic handle. So, if you look right here, does a nipple here and a nipple here. This space right here is your reverse. If I go beyond that to right here, that’s neutral. So it is a fine area, but I can drop this right over that first nipple I’m in reverse.

And all I’m going to do is push down.

Oh, that’s cool.

However much I need to do. And then once I, once I’m good, I’ve got slack in it. I can go to neutral now. And adjust it. However I want to adjust it, cool?

Ratchets we should be running our ratchets the exact same way our hooks are in the up position. Right. Just like we talked with our chains last night, you can buy these from Paratech.

I ain’t gonna tell you the cost because I’m not a sales person, or you can buy them from VA products or anybody that sales VA products. You typically have to buy the ratchet assembly and then the, uh, the actual weapon separately. But you can convert all your ratchets over with just this piece. It’s still 10,000 pounds. Breaking strength 3,300 pound working load limit. Cool?

Where this will come into play is when we start capturing suspension, when we get ready to let it go, right? Pop it over into that, into that reverse position. Just pass this between these two that just pass this nipple. If you look, it’s kind of hard to see, there’s a release mechanism here where my fingernails at and a release mechanism here where my fingernails out on the other side. When that pops there, it’ll drop there. And then as I push this, that release mechanism, just pops this back one time. That’s all it’s doing. You let the tension out that way. Cool?

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