Emergency Egress on the Fireground: The Ladder Bail

When conditions inside a fire building change rapidly, the conventional methods to exit a window can be hampered by heat, window size and the firefighters profile.


  1. The firefighter will place their feet and knees to the outside of the ladder beams while holding onto the beams with their hands. Their body will be in a crouched position with their back as straight as possible which will place their weight in a position that will cause them to slide down (see Figure 10.)
  2. The firefighter will tighten their grip with their hands and knees to slow down and control themselves.
  3. Once down on the ground, the firefighter should get out of the way quickly or aid in heeling the ladder so that firefighters behind them can also exit quickly.

Again, the safest and preferred way to exit is to climb down the ladder in a conventional manner if conditions allow.

Knowing your job and possessing a strong background in firefighting basics is the first and most important step that all firefighters should take when it comes to self-survival skills for the fireground. Everyone working on the fireground should be aware of the conditions that can create the need for emergency escape and should be well versed on what is needed to prevent getting into a bad situation in the first place. Maintaining an open and progressive mentality and training with safety as the number one priority, firefighters can acquire the skills and confidence needed to react to an emergency successfully on the fireground.

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JEFFREY PINDELSKI, a Firehouse.com Contributing Editor, is a 18-year veteran of the fire service and currently serves as a battalion chief with the Downers Grove, IL, Fire Department. He is the Western Regional Director for the Fire Department Safety Officers Association and a staff instructor at the College of Du Page in Glen Ellyn, IL. Jeff is co-author of the text R.I.C.O., Rapid Intervention Company Operations and is a revising author for Delmar/Cengage Learning where he is also a member of their fire service advisory board.. Jeff presented the webcast Rope Essentials for Rapid Intervention and Survival on Firehouse.com and he has participated in Training & Tactics Talk and Training & Tactics Talk: Training Philosophies on Radio@Firehouse.com. To read Jeff's complete biography and view his archived articles, click here. You can reach Jeff by e-mail at firelt226@aol.com.