Posted tagged ‘ladders’

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…

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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