Ladder Rescue Mishap

Here is an ugly one out of Europe I believe, judging by the PPE. I liked it because it is a scenario that any of us could face, and hopefully we can learn from this one to improve the way things go for us. I for one like practicing ladder work a lot, I feel it is the only way to keep sharp on placement and height. This is a great example of when you are only going to get one chance to pick your spot, and one chance to get the height right, because as seen here, when the ladder goes into the building the people are coming down (no matter how you placed it). I think some solid advice that I have been taught is go for a shallow angle over a steep one anytime you can. Obviously this increases the chance that the butt will slip, but if we have a guy to foot the ladder or are in soft ground then why not, it may just prevent us from coming down on our backs with a victim on our chest. Anyways, here is a quick take on what we noticed in this video.     

Once one thing goes wrong it all starts going down hill. You can see they come up short with the ladder and place it at a real steep angle. They go up to make the attempt anyways, right about the time the victim decides enough is enough and lets go. They still have one victim hanging (who has been hanging for a long time) who we can almost count on following suite with the first. To add insult to injury you notice one of the Engine guys stretching hose falls onto his back  over one of the Ladder guys that is lying on the ground. 

 Here is a little bit of the time breakdown: 
1:08 – Camera zooms back far enough you can see the fire on the far right..Do you think that is a stairwell due to the uneven window height?
1:20 – First victim falls (that is a long time to hold your body wieght….at least for me it is)
1:55 – 2nd firefighter starts to go up for the rescue, you can see him hesitate a few times, which makes me think he can tell they are about to fall.
2:00 – Engine guy falls over the injured firefighter, also the 2nd victim falls taking out another firefighter.   

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  What do you think? There is some good discussion points. Ladder placement, ladder height, smoke conditions, and fire location. Good video, I came across it through an email that one of the Brotherhood Instructors sent out (A. Brassard), thanks to him and whoever else had a part in getting this video out there.

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7 Comments on “Ladder Rescue Mishap”

  1. nkokias Says:

    Great video to motivate guys to get out and train! Thats a bad day for all involved.

  2. GaryLane Says:

    Having just completed 3 days of ladder/victim rescue drills for my FD, I would say this video sums it up. If you and your guys dont have your shit squared away prior to this situation unfolding in the middle of the night, you are screwed…more importantly, the victims are screwed. If you cant even remember how to tye a friggin’ clove hitch during drill, how are you going to pull off a (probably) once in a life time grab like this? Maybe I just need to take a vacation, but lately Im getting kinda sick about people weaseling their way out of basic drills on something as fundamental as this. Sorry for the rant! This just really strikes a nerve and shows how important things like size-up, district familiarization, and frequent drills on the basics really are. Estimating the ladder height/raise for something like this is only going to come with practice. Great video and an excellent topic to stir up some s#@t around the kitchen table!

    • Scott Vinas Says:

      Gary,
      Long time man no see….we miss you here in the high country (LDFR)
      I agree with ya 100%….. But sometimes you think you have the basics so you train on the things that seems more technical. So, I think the answer is do 50/50. Train on complicated things you need work on AND train on the things you think “oh…I got this” therefore nothing ever falls through the cracks.
      Be safe my brother…..check out our new truck on line.
      Scott

  3. TRUCK4 Says:

    Definately crazy video. Since we just had several visitors from Belgum, it was interesting to hear from them that they don’t use many ground ladders. Infact, they arent even required to carry much at all in the way of portable ladders. And their Truck Co’s. only operate with two members, because thats how they were designed!!!! They only seat two people!! It definately brings all good ladder training points up. I know one thing that bothers me is that there never seems to be enough ground ladders thrown during structure fires anyway. I have talked with guys on my crew that at the next fire we go to, it will be our goal to throw as many ladders as possible on the truck and even try to get the engine guys to at least throw one of their ladders as well. This idea was thought about many times but was re-enforced by the fact that once-upon-a-time a Truck Co. officer wouldn’t allow some firefighters to throw ladders at an apartment building fire because they were not ordered to by command. Poor thinking when its a working fire from a long distance out and in the middle of the night with limited access. Portable ladders require constant training and placing them at every opportunity. Great video!!!

  4. R-Fr Says:

    Ladders, ladders, ladders. I constantly hear about needing more ladders thrown or having the truck company do this or do that. Well I realize I am writing to the choir on this but the key is resources. My FD does not throw enough ladders. Not because we don’t have ladders but because we don’t have enough guys on scene. When we look at all the work for Ladder Companies at a fire why do we not send more companies? Ladder Companies, or Engines for that matter, should not be waiting for a different run when companies are busy working and do not have the resources to make a safer fireground. Very few FDs have the proper amount of resources but it is ridiculous to leave fire companies in service at a firehouse when they could be used at the current fire. Chief Officers need to be very proactive and enhance their alarm responses. The run tickets look more like check boxes than a proper response from an aggressive determined fire department. If your FD sends 2 Engines and 1 Truck to fires ask yourself why? Perhaps that is all you have in your jurisdiction but if you have more then send more. That is why mutual/automatic aid was created. Think about it: we want the door forced (front and back), ladders placed, ventilation, primary searches of every floor, overhaul, and utilities. We are also operating under a time constraint and we expect all this done by how many members? Keep in mind we have to work in pairs….right. Do the math sometime. It is obvious that this does not include the potential for realistically rescuing even 1 civilian. Ladder Truck Co work has become a check box. Order resources or better yet put them on the ticket/run card. The most important fire we will ever have is the one we are at. Even if we do run out of resources citywide isn’t that a wake up for the public anyway?

    Sorry for the rant but a FDs mindset predicts its success or failure. As for the video…ouch! What else can I add? You guys said it all. My only contribution is once again what is your plan when you are assigned the roof and look over the side and see this from above?

  5. Lynch Says:

    This is the most blatant example of a viable victim in dire straits as we will ever see as firefighters.  I’ll echo the sentiments from the previous posts and say that training with your equipment and district familiarization are paramount for us to try and become masters of our craft.  I believe in truck 4’s idea concerning ladder deployment. Depending on the building size and configuration each truck should deploy a majority of their ladders at each fire. I do think that simply throwing each ladder at every fire just to say we threw them is problematic. Ladders need to be placed strategically around the building for rescue, firefighter egress, and ventilation (not necessarily in that order).  Garylane I understand the frustration of basic firefighting  gone awry.  I think we’ve all seen people who have let their skills diminish to the point that they become a liability to not only the rest of the crew but also to the citizens we serve.  I think it’s up to us to continue to try and hone our skills. The next fire is just around the corner and we all have to be prepared for it.  R-Fr. I understand and share your concern.  It’s been my experience that truck companies are tasked with numerous tactics on the fireground with little regard to manpower.  I believe this is an industry wide problem that almost every fire department faces.  I guess there are two solutions. Make a push within your organization for additional trucks to be placed on the initial alarm or call for more resources if the alarm information remotely hints at a working fire.

    • R-Fr Says:

      Lynch, I’d say you hit the nail on the head concerning your two solutions. However, how often do we all hear the first due companies not calling for resources even with good “hints” of work? That is an issue where the Officers do not want to call for resources because “it’s probably nothing” until very blatantly proven otherwise. That is a cultural issue within an organization and it takes guys to stand up and make the right request early on, regardless of what has been institutionalized.


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