A Day in the Life with Rope Access Technician Pawel Krezel
Rope access careers can take you down many different paths and allow you to work in very different industries. Meet Pawel Krezel, who works in three different industries: rope access, film and entertainment rigging which keeps him busy throughout the year and gives him the opportunity to use his rope access experience in many different applications. Here he shares his experience working in these industries, interesting projects he has worked on, and his favourite gear.
What is your favourite part of the job? What do you love most about your career?
Working in three different industries: Rope access, film rigging, and entertainment rigging where I often work at heights and work with ropes in a variety of jobs and projects. Even if the tasks or projects sometimes are very similar, working in different places and venues makes the job more challenging and interesting. As well, in entertainment rigging, I often work with different road crews and tour riggers.
What’s your IRATA/SPRAT level and how many hours do you have working as a Rope Tech?
I am IRATA Level 1 and hopefully in October of this year, I'll get my level 2. Because I work in three industries and my focus is film which is busy during fall and winter, it's difficult to get lots of hours on ropes. I was able to get 1106 hours in a span of almost 2.5 years, which gave me enough to be eligible for an upgrade to level 2.
In film, it's almost impossible to claim hours as a rope access tech because there are no level 3 Techs on-site and everything can be rigged from the lifts. However, having the knowledge and "seeing the world as a Rope Tech" is helpful.
In the summer months, I work full-time in rope access with some film rigging projects.
What is the most interesting project you’ve worked on?
I would say the "Granville Bridge Project" that I was involved in last summer which involved setting up of the bird netting and debris nets. I like working on the bridges and I enjoy working on the Alex Fraser Bridge during the winter from time to time.
When it comes to entertainment rigging, I recently was involved in big concerts (The Weekend & Motley Crue) at BC Place. I was a steel climber working closely with cranes.
What are your favourite rope access products? What do you carry in your kit?
For the past 6 years, I was able to get together kits for every industry. For my rope access work, I have a Petzl Astro harness and a Vertex helmet. I like to use the CT Sparrow 200R. That is my main descender, but I have two backup descenders mainly used with rope transfers (Petzl Rig and I'D). My main backup device is the Petzl ASAP, secondary is the Duck. I also have KONG that I keep in my arena rigging kit. This rope access kit works the best for what I need, but very often the companies I work for provide the equipment.
In my arena rigging kit, I have the Petzl AVAO black harness, Tractel Y lanyard, Pro Traxion, a few 3' and 4' YATES slings, and a few carabiners, pulleys and rope clamps. The Petzl Grillon 2m can be very handy, especially when it comes to climbing truss or setting up lights on scaffold. At the end of my Grillon, I have a DMM Nexus Swivel with a 60mm MGO hook which gives me a lot of movement when setting up lights. The 60mm MGO can be swapped with a 110mm MGO for climbing structures where smaller a 60mm MGO will not fit.
When it comes to lowering heavier things or 2-ton motors, I use the Petzl MAESTRO S. I find it very practical. I also have a Petzl Vertex Vent in black. My arena rigging kit is mostly entirely black which comes from my time that I worked in theatres back in the day, when “black” was the dress code for stagehands.
When working in film there is no need to use harnesses designed for rope access - it's a bit of “overkill". It all depends on the task of course. I found out that for the purpose of working in the lifts, mainly lighter equipment works the best where movement is so important. I use the Petzl Newton Easy Fit harness, Absorbica-I flex Petzl lanyard with micro swivel and Eashook (it gives you the best mobility in the lift). I have a few carabiners, 30 cm slings, and Nano Traxion and of course a light drop line (50 feet 9mm black Sterling). I like to keep that kit simple and very light, especially when I spend in the lifts around 10 hours every day. I shuffle my hardhat from my arena rigging kit.
Which ropes do you like to use?
I mainly have Bluewater ropes 11 static in my kit but working for rope access companies in the summer months, I use Singing Rock or Bluewater ropes.
As well, I have smaller diameter drop lines: Sterling 50 feet 9mm and 35 feet 8 mm, mainly used in the film studios.
Granville Street Bridge
Film rigging kit
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