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CMI

Firefly Microrack Rescue Rack Hyper Rack Extreme
Firefly Microrack Rescue Rack Hyper Rack Extreme

Overview


Firefly Personal Escape Rack
(#901)

Front View Rear View Side View
Front View Rear View Side View

Technical Details

I acquired my Firefly from Karst Sports at the 2001 NSS Convention.

The Firefly is a conventional, albeit tiny, U-frame rack with one exception: the bars aren't slotted so they cannot be opened to rig the rope. The frame is 7.5 mm. stainless steel. The bars are 41 mm. long and made from solid aluminum rod, and anodized. The two top bars are 19 mm. in diameter, while the bottom one is 16 mm. The bars are held on by lock nuts. Unfortunately, the threads on the frame were cut too long, leaving sharp edges that can damage the rope.

The two larger bars are marked with the "CLASSIFIED," "UL" in a circle, "CMI," "Meets NFPA 1983 (95 ed)," "P 0002," and "MBS 3800 Lb.(16.9 Kn)."

Comments

This is a "PED," or "personal escape device," not a serious rack for general use. Maybe I just don't "get it," but can someone tell me what these things are really good for? Let’s suppose for a moment that the idea of a lightweight, highly portable emergency rack has some value. Why then, does it have to be pre-rigged onto a bulky rope? Since most of the bulk is in the rope, harness, and carabiner, sacrificing functionality while reducing the rappel device down to miniscule dimensions just doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Perhaps it’s just another way to get money from the infinite pockets the rescue community appears to have.

The markings on the device tell me that some people take certification far to seriously. Foreigners may not understand the American environment where the only think that matters is tort liability. In this day in age, covering your legal butt must be far more important than buying appropriate equipment.

Don't get me wrong - CMI’s Firefly is very well made, except for the sharp, exposed threads at the top and not knowing the correct abbreviation for kilonewton. I just don't have a clue what it is good for.


Microrack
(#508)

Front View Rear View Side View
Front View Rear View Side View

Technical Details

I acquired this rack from Karst Sports in 1995.

My CMI Microrack rack is 208 mm. tall, 51 mm. wide, 22 mm. thick, and weighs 340 g. The frame is made from 7.9 mm. stainless steel bent into a U, with an internal width of 18 mm. There are four 50 mm. long solid aluminum brake bars. The top two bars are 22 mm. in diameter and the others are 19 mm. Allowing 35 mm. for the rope gives a 85 mm. for spreading the bars. The top of the frame has both lock and cap nuts to hold the bars.

There are no markings on this rack.

Comments

The CMI Microrack is a basic rack with aluminum brake bars. The top two bars are larger than the bottom two, which is appropriate since the top two bars receive more heat. Small four-bar racks often provide insufficient friction, but you can loop the rope over the top for more friction.


Rescue Rack
(#509)

Front View Rear View Side View
Front View Rear View Side View

Technical Details

I acquired this rack from Karst Sports in 1995.

My CMI Rescue Rack rack is 410 mm. tall, 102 mm. wide, 28 mm. thick, and weighs 1015 g. The frame is made from 9.5 mm. stainless steel bent into a U, with an internal width of 34 mm. There are seven brake bars. The top bar is made from solid aluminum rod, 25 mm. in diameter and 102 mm. long. The remaining six bars are stamped from 2.2 mm. stainless steel sheet. Each of these is 62 mm. long and 27 mm. high. Allowing 35 mm. for the rope gives a 144 mm. for spreading the bars. The top of the frame has both lock and cap nuts to hold the bars.

There are no markings on this rack.

Comments

There are several other racks that use a longer top bar to assist in tying off. See the ASR NFPA, Rescue Systems, Mio Mechanical RR, and Rescue Tech racks for examples. All of these are too heavy for my taste, except in special conditions involving very long rappels. In those cases, I prefer having spacers below my top bar.


Hyper Rack Extreme
(#991)

Front View Rear View Side View
Front View Rear View Side View

Technical Details

I acquired my Hyper Rack Extreme from Barry Duncan at the 2005 NSS Convention.

The frame is 8.1 mm. stainless steel with 28 mm. internal spacing between the two legs. The top bar is 89.1 mm. long and 22.5 mm. in diameter. It has a 23 mm. tall, 6.5 mm. diameter on one side, with a 17 mm. space between the hyperbar and the frame. This bar is drilled for the frame, but not slotted. The second and fourth bars is 51 mm. long,19 mm. in diameter and slotted. The third bar is identical to the first, but installed inverted. Each leg of the frame has a nylon lock nut and an acorn cap nut at the top. while the bottom one is 16 mm. The bars are held on by lock nuts. Unfortunately, the threads on the frame were cut too long, leaving sharp edges that can damage the rope.

The two larger bars are marked with the "g. 0306," "MBS 10,000 lb/44.6 Kn.," "Exceeds Tests for NFPA 1983-2001," and "CMI."

Comments

This is such a nicely made rack that I feel bad picking on it. As a rack, it functions nicely, but there are some minor points that I don't like.

In my world, hyperbars are nice additions to four-bar racks so that one can add friction conveniently. If a U-frame rack has sufficient frame extension, such as the Kong-Bonaiti, SRT, and SBCI do, then one can loop the rope over the top bar and the frame extension will hold it in place. On racks like the Howell-N-Mann Mini, the hyperbar is needed because the frame does not extend high enough to keep the rope in place. On the Hyper Rack Extreme, the nuts form an extension that is just as long as the hyperbar (just like on the ASR NFPA and Rescue Systems racks). So why does this rack need a hyperbar? Was someone afraid of the rope rubbing against the nuts? It can do so even with the hyperbar, and in the direction that will tend to unscrew the nuts. The hyperbar does help keep the rope from running against itself in opposite directions, so it isn't all bad.

Even if you can talk me into one hyperbar - and one of my favorite racks, the Howell-N-Mann Mt. Sira has one - why do I need one on the third bar pointing downward? Maybe there are times it would be convenient in rescue, but I believe there are better ways to do things. It is the down-pointing hyperbar that really bothers my sense of simplicity.

The "bigger is better" crowd may find the 14 mm. space between the top hyperbar and the acorn nut or the 13.5 mm. space between the third-bar hyperbar and the fourth bar confining for the hawsers that they use.

The second bar on a rack takes the most heat, followed by the top and third bars, in that order. In this case, making the second bar smaller than the first or third is counter-productive. I could justify making all bars the same diameter, but reducing the diameter of the second bar makes no sense to me whatsoever.

Four years have passed since I got my Firefly Personal Escape Rack and CMI still doesn't know the abbreviation for kilonewton.

None of these are major flaws, but this rack violates my K.I.S.S. philosophy.