If you can’t tie a knot, tie a lot.

Sage advice my good sir, but I think I’d rather tie a knot.† There is a list of knots that every firefighter is supposed to know.† The list includes Bowline,† Clove hitch,† assorted Eights,† A bend of some type, Overhand safety, Half hitch.

I’m not going to lecture about the virtues of one knot over the other or that one doesn’t go here or there.† There are many knots and variations, too many to have in the front of your mind at 3AM on an icy embankment.

KISS- Keep It Simple Stupid

Find a knot you like and bend it to your will.† I’d recommend mastering the family of 8’s because you can fill most needs with variations of the same basic shape.† Having a solid knot in a less than ideal situation is better than having a pile of spaghetti anywhere.† It looks professional and it looks like you know what you’re doing (even if you don’t).† If you are a one trick pony when it comes to knots, that’s fine, you’ll have a knot that you can trust.† When someone ties the Confused Worm knot to the apparatus so you can make your way to a rolled over car in a ditch, that knot is going to be another thing you have to worry about.

Do yourself a favor, go to pick your pony and practice it.† Practice with a 6′ piece of rope. Then when you think you’ve got it mastered bring that rope on a call at 3AM and see if you can do it then.† If you can congratulations, you’re halfway there.† Now tie it blindfolded, then teach someone else.† Drill it into your head, muscle memory is the best type.† Practice, practice or you will lose the ability to tie it.


  • Frank Lipski says:

    I agree with your opinion that a small arsenal of well tied knots will serve well when the heat is on. I would throw out one more piece to those of you that are looking at these knots for the first time or at least for the first time in a long time. This is important for all knots, but I will use the family of eights as an example.
    starting with the eight stopper then the eight on a bight you should practice the same hand motions and starting point for the knots. By tying the basic knots the same way every time you develop muscle memory as stated previously, but also have a foundation for the additional eight family knots such as the double or the bend and follow through. If you start from a different point every time you tie an eight on a bight, you will have a more difficult time when conditions are poor and you are tired or fatigued.
    Another good example is when someone is able to tie every knot in a testing station with a 6 foot rope short in 20 seconds, but can’t tie the knots around objects or with a 200 foot rope in a rope bag.
    Proficiency with ropes and knots requires an understanding of the knot and it’s uses and limitations. However, it is also necessary to practice tying the knots in real world situation to obtain mastery. So…tie away young grasshopper…

  • You’ve written a very excellent blog post.
    If it’s fine with you, I would like to ask permission to use your article as it fits to my obstruction. I will be glad to negotiate to pay you or hire you for this.

    With Regards from
    Republic Polytechnic

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Marques Bush

Firefighter Basics launched in February 2009 after Founder/Editor Marques Bush was looking for a way to express himself and share his experiences with brother and sister firefighters. Shortly after founding the site Marques spoke with several trusted friends and ask them to come on board and contribute also. Firefighter Basics is a dedicated group of firefighters who strive everyday to practice what they preach about Training, Safety, and Tradition.  We can be reached at

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