Archive for the ‘5. Ladder Work’ category

Last Minute Openings – May 13th- Ladders Class


We just decided to open a limited amount of spots (around 10 people) for our Ladders Class at Fort Carson on May 13th. This will be from 9 till 5 at Fort Carsons Training Center. Please email us at to reserve a spot. Price is 75.00 a person. Thanks and sorry for the late notice.

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Inaugural Hands On Ground Ladder Classes- Now Open


These are the first two hands on ground ladder classes we are opening to firefighters from any department. We have been working on the development of this class for a while now and have finally started booking dates around Colorado. The flyer has the class description and registration information. Sign up soon at the lowest price we can offer for this class. Our host site is West Metro Fire in Lakewood CO.

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High Shoulder Throw (Beam Raises).



This is a critical skill for practical ladder work against real world problems. Many places still teach the chicken wing with a flat raise against the building as a standard test passing skill. The chicken wing and flat raise can be a setup for failure with many different fire ground scenarios. For example, this picture illustrates very common problems found all over the country. Balconies, large soffits, overhangs, parking garage recesses, alleys that require you to approach parallel with the building, vehicles, and many others not mentioned. These all require a beam raise out in the open, which is easily accomplished with the high shoulder carry. This throw is easily accomplished by all heights, weights and strengths of firefighters. It is almost all technique and leverage that just simply requires quality training.
Don’t just teach someone how to do a skill like the high shoulder throw, make sure you reinforce it with the why we need the skill. Find the examples in your own area and put it to the test. It guarantees you won’t ever forget why we use it and why you are teaching it. It also lets you defend your choice with real application, not just because someone said it was better.

One last advantage. The beauty of the high shoulder throw is its ability to overcome the problems shown in the picture and at the same time works in every other place that someone could have pulled off the chicken wing with a flat raise.

Ladder Angles


Ladder Angles

75 degree ladder angles happen in books, some training towers and if you happen to be throwing a ladder to a brick wall. It is a great goal to shoot for but it is very rarely a reality when you are laddering real buildings. Extension ladders give you a little more room for error because you can adjust to your obstacle, straight ladders leave you very little choice. When we ladder a building we ladder below the sill of the window, it is the most versatile place to set a ladder. With that said depending on window height, landscaping, grade, overhangs, vehicles, fences, AC units, and a long list of other problems, you can count on having angles that are less than desirable. It is important to understand the limitations of each size ladder you carry on the rig. How far can you have an unfooted ladder kicked out on concrete v.s. asphalt v.s. grass and still be able to work on the end of it? The nature of most building heights along with the 14’s and 16’s being the most common straight ladders carried, will almost certainly put you in a position that you will be working on ladders that are very shallow compared to your text book climbing angles. It is the nature of our job and really is not a big deal if you practice. Try your ladders at different buildings and on different surfaces. Know the limitations of your climbing angles, it saves you from having to guess when it is time to go to work. This is a simple way to up your ladder work skill. Brick walls and training towers are where the very basics are taught, it takes real window heights and realistic obstructions to really learn practical fire ground ladder work.

Ladder Packages (3 story garden levels)


Ladder Package

Ladder packages can have great value, especially when it comes to ladder work on apartments. Our outside truck team (Ladders team) consists of the driver and the firefighter who rides behind him. One of our primary jobs on an apartment fire is to get to the backside opposite of all the other fire units and perform ladder work or VES. Many times this is away from your truck and time is not on your side. The photo is one example where ladder packages can apply. This is what we call a 3 story garden level apartment, I know this term varies across the country but we are referring to the bottom floor being slightly below grade. This is the most common apartment style that we burn in around our district. When these have good fires in them you can count on people being at these windows because of the common egress being cut off.

We have a pretty standard rule of thumb for ladder choices on 3 story garden levels. 14 footers for the 2nd floor, and 20s and 24s for the 3rd floor. The two person outside truck team can accomplish the four most threatened units with only one trip from the truck, this includes your tools. In the picture you can see the firefighter carrying the 24′,14′, hook and halligan, while the driver follows up with the 20′, 14′ and another hook. With proper training and practice this can be a very straight forward evolution you can implement as an option. It takes some understanding in the brand and type of ladders you carry along with choosing from the multiple ways to do the carries with low suitcase carries or low shoulder carries. Give it a try for your compliment of ladders and staffing. It will become second nature with some practice and you will find different ladder packages can apply to a variety of different buildings and fires.

More to come on this later…

Ladders Up!


Fire by Trade LLC got me thinking the other day with his post about ground ladder rescues across the nation so far this year. 119. Think about how many are not documented, probably many many times that number.

Ladder work is a culture and a mindset, that’s it. If you don’t have that culture in your department, you can do one of two things. You can keep telling people that you have just never really done it that way, or you can develop a culture of aggressive ground ladder work one fire at a time.

My department has removed 17 people from windows at working apartment fires in the last 2 months. I am proud of the ground ladder work that goes on and the culture that has slowly built around it. It is better for the citizens and it is better for us.

I came across these photos below that someone took after a recent top floor apartment fire. This is the handy work of multiple truck companies doing there job on the backside of a hard to access fire building. No excuses, just lots of ladders placed quickly for rescue and the interior crews working their way down this center hallway.

It is a thing of beauty…Bang Up Job!!!


Ladder Work- Reverse Tip Raise 35′


Here is a quick ladder technique that can help you overcome steep and unstable grades that you must place a ground ladder on. This is a pretty common scenario in our city and I am sure you can come up with a  few ways to handle this same problem. We like this one because it has the most control and takes the least amount of energy during the raise.

Typically we approach a fire building with the butt end of the ladder heading towards the building, or running parallel with it. For this scenario we will approach the building with the tip of the ladder. Take the extra couple seconds to walk up this type of terrain with some care so you don’t take yourself out before the raise even happens. When doing this reverse tip raise I like to approach the building and setup for a flat raise directly in front of my intended target.


Once you’re at the top of the hill, have the tip person get the tip of the ladder as close to the building as possible, this will prevent adjustments with the 35′ after you have raised it. Get your ladder squared up to the target and identify a good area for the butt of the ladder to be footed. This is another example where it is worth the time to take an extra 10 seconds to move the rocks or level the ground out as best you can before the ladder is fully extended. It is critical that the butt of this ladder does not slip when you start to raise.


Below is one of the main advantages of this type of raise. The firefighter on the uphill side has good leverage and control as he raises the ladder.  If you tried to approach this building and raise the ladder in a traditional flat or beam raise from the bottom of the hill up, you would either run out of reach above your head, possibly run out of strength, and risk a much higher chance of dropping the ladder back down. This also keeps your ladder in the right position so you do not have to rotate it while freestanding in this rock bed or on a hillside.


The rest of the raise is similar to any other traditional flat raise. It does take some practice to judge your extension height when standing on the downhill side. It can be deceiving but this is overcome with some repetition.


Once the ladder is extended and you are ready to lower it into the building, you will see that you actually gain a lot of control here. Because the uphill firefighter is higher up on the ladder, it gives him good leverage to control the ladder into the building.

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Personally, I prefer the beam raise on most normal ladder throws and use them almost all of the time. There is definitely a time and a place for flat raises, and as you can see, even a time for a reverse flat raise. Another time we will carry our ladders tip first, is if we are performing an ally raise with overhead wires. This is something we can demonstrate in a different article.

We have had good luck with this, but it is not a throw I would want to try for the first time when it is actually needed on a fire scene. I highly recommend spending some time on this beforehand so you can have some extra control on your hands until it feels fine tuned. This building we are practicing at had a multi alarm fire years ago that required numerous ladder rescues of occupants by the first in Truck Co’s. It was not over this rock bed, but was right next door and very close to being a very realistic scenario.

Do you have areas like this in your city or still districts? If so give it a try and see if you like this reverse raise.

First Due Fire, Stockton CA


Now here is a bang up job and some great first due footage. You can nay-say all you want on this fire but to me this looks like an extremely professional and aggressive job done by these companies. Lines are flaked and put into service very quickly, door is forced and lines are advanced into the two most threatened areas of the home. Ground ladders are put into place on multiple sides of the home. Crew performs VES on the top floor. Truck goes to the roof and opens up the attic of a balloon frame that likely has fire in it. It is clear that everyone here knows their job and has a task, there is no one trying to figure out what comes next, or hanging back a little bit hesitating. Tactics are being done Proactively ahead of the need, not reactively because things are going downhill.  Well done guys, great example to all.

“The Ladder Shop”


This is a real interesting video that the boys over at VentEnterSearch came up with. Credit to them for posting it, we just think its a video worth viewing so we are re-posting it. They run a great site and come up with some very unique content, if you don’t already, make sure to check out their website at

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.   

Vodpod videos no longer available.

  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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