Archive for the ‘5. Ladder Work’ category



The Two Knuckleheads wanted to remind you about  the next class they have been working on presented by Captain Pat Nichols. The guys behind this have put in a lot of their time and own money to offer a low priced class that is accessible to firefighters in the area. They have worked hard to do their part in making us all better at our jobs. I want to thank them for sending over the information and please contact them soon to get your seat.

Click the picture for an update written by the Two Knuckleheads regarding the class and payment instructions

If you have not seen the original printable flyer for this class you can look at an updated version below. This gives you the details of the classes, time and location.

May 3rd Class Flyer (Printable Version)

Portable Ladder or Portable Stairs?



Here is an idea to keep in the back of your mind if you encounter the same problem. These companies had a fire on the top floor of a 1  1/2 story house a few months ago.  The house is located in a neighborhood on the eastern edge of downtown that has its fair share of urban decay. When advancing the line they found the stairway leading up had some damage. Enough damage to require some assistance making the top floor. The Engine had pulled back and advanced up an exterior ladder that was in place to the top floor and made a knock down. While the Engine made their way up, the Truck company was able to place a 16′ ladder in place over the area of the stairs that was damaged. This provided a sturdy and safe way to secure another route of egress for the Engine upstairs, and access for the Truck that ended up helping them confine the fire to its room of origin. Once the fire was knocked down it turned into the main pathway for the remainder of the incident.  This is where remembering little tricks that have been passed down to us pays off. Well done on thinking creatively and looking out for each other with a little ingenuity. Thanks for sending in the photos for everyone to share.

No Room For Complacency



This was on the 5th floor. How fast can you setup your aerial?

Head First Ladder Bailout


This is a very recent video that was taken at a fire only a few days ago, you may have seen it around the web as it is on many different sites. Sorry it took us a while to get this one up.  To give you a little background of the fire it comes out of Randolph NJ. Firefighters were searching the 2nd floor for reports (by her sons who escaped) of an elderly lady trapped inside. Conditions changed rapidly and this firefighter made it to the second floor window. You can see him hanging by his feet in an attempt to get out of the conditions and preparing to jump. The video you see is a first hand view from the RIT team that was located near the backside. From what we have found the firefighter was injured but not seriously. Despite their efforts the occupant in the house died in this fire.

This turned into a great video for us to learn from. As always we are not interested in bashing this department, we respect them for putting this video out for all of us to learn from and we should do exactly that. The video gives us a grasp of how fast these situations can unfold, and also how our responses in the heat of the moment will not always go as planned. It appears the firefighter is very exhausted by the time the ladder gets to him and it seems difficult  for him to even grab the rungs.

I received some great insight and advice pertaining to this video in emails. They are some thoughts from many different senior and experienced firefighters from across the country and here locally. Here is a brief take on many of these guys thoughts put into one paragraph.

Ladder deployment and placement. With firefighters operating in less than desirable conditions on the second floor we must have as many ladders as possible thrown to the windows. When you are on fire you are coming out of the window, ladder or not. The RIT team was able to acquire a ladder and quickly deploy it to the firefighter hanging out the window. However in the heat of the moment you can see the ladder is at a steep angle making it more difficult. Ladders placed before conditions change gives us the extra second to set up a much easier angle to slide down for egress. When time is crucial and you have an extension ladder that only needs raised a few rungs don’t forget how you raise your extension ladder at home. Once you set it, push up on the rungs by hand until they extend right under the firefighter. Placing egress ladders in grass/dirt compared to concrete will change the angle we are able to operate on. We are afforded a much more shallow angle when we have soft footing to sink the butt into. We must be absolutely proficient in these techniques before the real time comes. Regardless if you train on head first bails all the way down the ladder, or the hook 2 grab 4 spin technique you must pick the one you are comfortable with and be solid in its use. We do not want to be trying to remember these escapes when it goes south and we are already exhausted.  We can use our feet on the window sill to gain control of our body weight until are hands are gripped tightly on the ladder. Regardless one of the number one pieces of advice is to get someone up the ladder to assist the firefighter. We can see how exhausted and possibly disoriented the firefighter in this particular video is. Getting help up to him and guiding him on the ladder, even if he still comes head first down will ensure he stays securely on the ladder. 

Thanks to A. Brassard for the link and email discussion and Thanks to Bryan and the guys at 10s for the heads up on the video.

Ladder work…the unconventional way


This next post is a great example of unique situations you can find throughout your district. This was found by a group of guys on a truck company that is aggressive about knowing their district. This specific building was found in an area of our city that backs up to some hillsides and drainages. It is a unique area of terrain surrounded by urban infrastructure on all 4 sides.  They found something that is all to common (poor ladder access) and at least gave themselves a game plan.  The area in question has a high chance of needing ladder rescues, especially at night due to the location of all the bedrooms, and the common wood stairwell on the front side.  There is one way out, and if it’s on fire they are all heading to the back windows and balconies. Below are the pictures, and then a quick narrative from the driver of the truck company that found this.


These apartments are located in T10’s still district off of York and Academy.  I first discovered them several years ago when stationed at 14’s.  This complex consists of four separate multiplex apartments.  Truck operations will be challenging for several reasons.  First, apparatus access is very limited.  There are two very narrow drives that access the small parking lot in the middle of the four buildings.  Truck companies will not be able to access the two southern most buildings via the west driveway because very low hanging power lines will prohibit the truck from gaining access.  Once accessed the parking lot is very small and depending on the number of vehicles may require a short set for aerial use.  The biggest problem trucks will face is ladder access on the rear of the two southern buildings.  The back of these buildings face a park and drainage.  The drop off and terrain are so severe that traditional ladder access is extremely difficult.  Several possible alternative rescue scenarios exist, including using a roof ladder with hooks extended like a pompier ladder and hanging it from the balcony or window. Using the roof hooks to secure the ladder may be unconventional, but actually gives you a fighting chance at keeping the ladder in place while bringing victims down. You can still attempt to give yourself a climbing angle but with such uneven terrain the hooks will prevent that ladder from sliding down the slope of the hill.

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