Anchor-and-rope PSS system saving firefighters' lives

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Tim Fleischer has the story from Randall's Island.

Life-saving techniques and equipment are making a difference for the men and women who put their lives on the line to battle fires.

A firefighter in Queens made a split-second decision this weekend to use a personal safety system, which likely saved his life.

Fire officials say the anchor-and-rope system is an integral part of protecting New York's Bravest.

Four stories up and escaping a burning building, FDNY probationary firefighters are learning to use their personal safety system, or PSS, which is their last resort to safety.

Early Sunday morning, while fighting an intense blaze engulfing six buildings in Richmond Hill, firefighter Charles Flohr was inside a second-floor apartment searching for victims.

"On his search, he got cut off from his main source of egress," Rope Unit Captain Bill Schneider said. "He was in the back of the building away from ladders. He had to use his last resort, which was his PSS."

The PSS was put into use following the deaths of several firefighters who were forced to jump from a burning building in 2005. Now, every firefighter has one. The hook, the lowering system and 50 feet of rope are contained in a pouch.

Probationary firefighters make numerous high slides during their training, while other firefighters come two to three times a year to practice.

"It's been used about five times since it's implementation, all successful," Schneider said. "That's what we strive for in training."

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