Chicago Fire Department use LokHead™ Winch for Technical Rescues in the City

Business Segment:

Rope Access / Rescue


Chicago, United States

Project Description:

Fire departments work under immense pressure in emergency situations involving technical rescue. Confined space, swift water rescue and vertical access are some of the examples; all of which carry their own potential risks and hazards.

Being able to react quickly in these scenarios can make a huge difference and having the right equipment in place to carry out a job is one factor that can impact this outcome.

For the Chicago Fire Department, the same principle applied when they were working on a recent blind shaft elevator rescue in the John Hancock Center skyscraper.

Using existing mechanical advantage systems, they realized that hauling tools over a hundred feet and rappelling up and down ropes would be labor-intensive and require a lot of manpower and time.

They needed a solution which could work in their favor to help reduce the workload, minimize worker strain and speed up operations.

Arriving at this conclusion, they decided to speak to the technical experts to see what options were available to them.

Solution/Equipment Used:

After a technical demonstration and conversations with Harken Industrial™ and Elevated Safety, Chicago Fire Department decided to invest in the LokHead™ Winch.

This device supplemented their existing mechanical advantage systems for future rescue situations involving hauling, lifting and lowering.

The lightweight, certified self-tailing LokHead Winch has two gears for high and low load/speed and is designed for use with fiber rope 10 - 12.7 mm (3/8 - 1/2”) in diameter.

Rigged to a tripod, it can be used for load moving, hauling, confined space rescue and personnel hoisting.

The benefits of the winch were exactly what Chicago Fire Department were after in order to enhance their rescue capabilities and keep the public safe.

Since acquiring the first LokHead, they now have winches in all four of their rescue companies and utilize the equipment on a weekly basis to carry out rescues across the city.


Fire departments across the US and around the world can benefit from the multiple efficiencies that the LokHead Winch brings.

Crews need equipment that’s lightweight, ergonomic, versatile and capable of reducing the time it takes to bring someone who is in danger back to safety.

Chicago Fire Department discovered this first hand; they now use the equipment on a regular basis which has greatly improved the methodology and process of technical rescue.

Find out more about the LokHead Winch fire and rescue kit.

Client Testimonial:

“If we had to go on rope and rappel down to make that rescue, it would be pretty labour intensive to haul manpower and tools up and down using mechanical advantage systems that are available to us now. We spoke to Harken Industrial and Elevated Safety about options and they talked to us about the winch they use for bridge inspections and I said this is a great tool, this is a tool that I have to have for my rescue guys.”

“It was quite obvious to us that the tools and techniques that we were being shown would not only enhance rescue capability here in the city, but would provide the citizens the necessary service they deserve.”

Tim Walsh, Chief of Special Operations, Chicago Fire Department

Check out the video below under the "video" tab where Tim discusses how the LokHead can be an extremely valuable tool for fire and rescue teams.

This Harken Industrial product is featured in the case study above:

  • LokHead Winch Fire/Rescue Kit, part number: INLH500KIT.US