Truck Work: Portable Ladders

  Just about every fire apparatus carries ladders. Certainly, ladder companies have a whole assortment of various sizes, while engines often carry just a couple. Firefighters use ladders for a number of important operations and must be familiar with...


  Just about every fire apparatus carries ladders. Certainly, ladder companies have a whole assortment of various sizes, while engines often carry just a couple. Firefighters use ladders for a number of important operations and must be familiar with ladder terminology, uses and safety...


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There are numerous safety issues related to the use of portable ladders. The first is proper carrying and raising skills. If you don’t know how to properly carry and raise a ladder, you are going to get hurt. There are shoulder carries, suitcase carries, and many other skills that you must know and practice.

A big issue when raising a portable ladder is that you must look up. Hitting a clothesline or tree branch halfway up could cause you to drop the ladder and be injured. If you hit an electrical wire, you could end up at a funeral – your own!

I’ll bet you didn’t know there was so much to know about portable ladders. We use them every day at many types of operations. Know what you are doing and practice doing it and you will look like the professional we all want to be.

JOHN J. SALKA Jr., a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a 28-year veteran battalion chief with FDNY, the commander of the 18th battalion in the Bronx. Salka has instructed at several FDNY training programs, including the department’s Probationary Firefighters School, Captains Management Program and Battalion Chiefs Command Course. He conducts training programs at national and local conferences and has been recognized for his firefighter survival course “Get Out Alive.” Salka co-authored the FDNY Engine Company Operations manual and wrote the book First In, Last Out – Leadership Lessons From the New York Fire Department. He also operates Fire Command Training (www.firecommandtraining.com), a New York-based fire service training and consulting firm.