Pit Requirements

Good afternoon;
Does anyone know the safety material requirements for the pit area during competition?



Safety glasses and closed-toed shoes, at a minimum.

You might also want to look at Section 4 of the Administrative Manual to find out more detailed information.

It would be valuable to have work gloves for handling the robot, a small first-aid kit, hearing protection, (certainly eye protection at all times), and a small fire extinguisher if available. We also keep a small box of baking soda handy in case of battery accidents.

Agreed. ALWAYS have the baking soda on hand… chances are you will not need it but if you do, it will be vital.

Being from a team that won UL Safety at BMR last year, here are my tips:

Last year there was a ban on open flames, flame powered soldering devices, and leaded solder… many teams missed that last year. The same ban exists this year too.

Things that produce sparks (like dremel wheels on steel) are also banned.

Having a well organized pit is vital as well.

Try not to daisy chain power strips. Also on the UL’s “naughty list”.

Often overlooked: Try to keep the pit sparsely populated; if somone is not doign anything, they need to go to elsewhere (stands, outside, etc.). It is way too easy to get too may chefs in the kitchen.

always have 3 people available to move your robot.

Don’t yell “ROBOT!” without good reason. Overdoing it is a serious distraction to other pits. Safety is not confined to your team’s personal pit; it applies everywhere at the venue.

Hope this helps.


This is my first time attempting to post a reply on CD, but I had a question regarding the general construction of the pits. I am on Team 53 from Greenbelt, MD. Yeah, we’re an older team. But personally, I’ve never worked on this specific project.

Like many people, we’re making the majority of our pit out of PVC. The problem at hand is that the structure we have isn’t sturdy in the least, are there any ways that anybody could possibly suggest to strengthen and/or reinforce our pit so it doesn’t collapse on us at the competition? It would be greatly appreciated. :wink:

Thank you. :slight_smile:

Take a cue from Buckminster Fuller and incorporate strategically placed tension/compression elements. That is, use bungie cords to hold things together against rigid bracing.

Keep the people to a minimum. Crowded pit can make for a disaster waiting to happen. And no music. Can be quite distracting at times.

Clean cord arrangments. Chargers out of the way but in easy reach. Make sure chargers are set right before leaving for the night. (Coming back to faults on your chargers, not a good 8am wake up call.)

The usual safety and first aid kits. And for those in the VCU regional, proper hand sanitation. Norovirus is making the rounds. Let’s not have another 2004 please?

Folding and camping chairs are good to keep on hand. Don’t plan on sitting in them long or often but never hurts.

Laptops should be in a stable place whenever possible. (Watching a team’s programming laptop take a dive hurts)

Food and drinks. Depends on your regional but at least keep some water around so key people don’t have to leave.

Not safety or killer stuff but:
NEVER leave your pit empty. Judges come around, you’ve got a wasted opportunity. Some with alliance partners.
When teams come around for information, Don’t be afraid to see if they can come back or hand them a pamphlet. Frees people up.

Otherwise, just use common sense. And if you’re a rookie team, look to your fellow vets to help you out. Coopertition.

Emphasis mine.

I read this and did double take and after a look through the manual I couldn’t find any references to this. Is this a rule at your local event or could you point me in the direction in the rules where it states we have to use lead free solder at events.

I looked through BOTH manuals and there are no restrictions listed on the use of solder. Now, the iron/gun for the solder has to be electric… but that doesn’t say anything about the solder itself.

And now that we’ve brought it up, guess what the next team update will be… I sure hope not. I do remember that from a previous year, and I also remember we all thought it was dumb.

they say to “use lead-free solder” in the soldering section of the safety manual. look again.

We really appreciate the interlocking foam floor pieces we bought a few years ago. Much easier on the feet, legs and back than concrete plus small bits don’t bounce as much or roll when you drop them. Available at Canadian Tire, Walmart, etc.

Guess what isn’t a rule, then?

The Game Manual doesn’t list solder anywhere.
The Administrative Manual only lists solder in the list of stuff to bring–no mention of lead-free or not.
The safety manual is listed as, and I quote, “more information” in the section of the Administrative Manual.

Not to mention that most of the stuff in the Safety Manual is also listed in the Administrative Manual, if it is going to be enforced. (And, to be noted: if MSDSs are required, a large number of teams are in violation of that “rule”.)

Now, is using lead-free solder a good idea? Yes. But is it required to be used? No.

In short, not a rule. A “best practice”, yes.

(Hey, in an unrelated competition where lead is banned, solder with lead in it is explicitly permitted. Here, lead isn’t banned.)

I had always thought that the safety manual was essentially an extension of the main manual… I guess it is only a list of “suggestions”.

You learn something every day I guess.

Wait a sec… look at this:


“Every team should know, understand, and follow the safety rules found in the FRC Team Safety Manual.”

Not quite “must”, but it sounds pretty hard set to me.

Look above it.

“It provides sound safety practices for your workplace and FIRST events.”

Note that it provides “practices”, not “rules”, in that statement. Also note that in the Administrative Manual, it says “should review” and “more information” when referencing the safety manual–and repeats most of the safety rules from there as rules.

If the safety manual is to be treated as rules, FIRST should make that clear. By repeating many of the rules from the safety manual in the Administrative Manual, but not declaring that the safety manual is rules for safety, the implication is that the safety manual is not rules but best practices.