Truck Company Tips: Tip #7: Single-Person Portable Ladder Raise

Michael M. Dugan describes the use of portable ladders at the scene of a fire and the significant difference it can make if deployed properly.


The use of portable ladders at the scene of a fire can make significant difference in the overall operation – if they are deployed properly. Portable ladders are an essential tool for ensuring safety when firefighters are operating above or adjacent to a fire that is not under control. If the...


To access the remainder of this piece of premium content, you must be registered with Firehouse. Already have an account? Login

Register in seconds by connecting with your preferred Social Network.

OR

Complete the registration form.

Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required
Required

The use of portable ladders at the scene of a fire can make significant difference in the overall operation – if they are deployed properly. Portable ladders are an essential tool for ensuring safety when firefighters are operating above or adjacent to a fire that is not under control. If the situation goes bad, a portable ladder may be the only way for a member to exit a fire area or an untenable area of a fire building.

7_truck1.jpg
Photo by Michael M. Dugan
Firefighters drill on the differences between a straight ladder and an extension ladder at Firehouse Expo 2003 in Baltimore. The extension ladder is more versatile for entry and search in a small apartment building or private dwelling.

Basic firefighting procedures and ladder company standard operating procedures (SOPs) require the use of portable ladders for improved firefighter safety. Basic firefighting practices dictate that for safety, ladders are required to be placed at windows or available mean of egress, at the fire floor and the floor above. At a private dwelling fire, exterior teams may operate exclusively off portable ladders to perform searches and if necessary rescues. This requires the exterior team to operate together until backed up by the second-due truck company, if one is responding. Uncommitted engine company firefighters may be used to perform or assist with this task, if necessary. This evolution can be very difficult and dangerous to perform alone, but might be necessary if a life is in jeopardy. This is especially important if a firefighter becomes trapped in a fire building. If set up properly, a single-ladder raise can be done quicker and efficiently with only one firefighter.

To do this properly we first must set up the ladder. As most of us know, the knot that is tied on the ladder can be any of group of knots, from the simple to the extreme, any of which may be difficult to untie. The time that can be lost untying a complicated knot can be costly to the firefighter or civilian waiting to be rescued at a window. How many times have we witnessed a member exiting a window onto a ladder with fire right behind them?

7_truck2.jpg
Photo by Michael M. Dugan
The more versatile ladder is the extension ladder, and to get it off the fire truck the straight ladder has to be removed. If a firefighter is trapped and you need an extension ladder, then you first have to remove the outside ladder.

To set up the ladder for a one-person raise, the first step is tie the halyard off solid on the last rung of the bed section of portable ladder. Doing this eliminates the need for the ladder to be untied; thus, this eliminates one entire step and saves critical time. This is not done on the 35-foot portable ladder, as this ladder cannot be a single-person operation. The 24-foot and the 16-foot portable can become a single-person operation with the proper training. Your fire department or company must have a drill to determine what ladders carried on your apparatus can be a single person operation. Some departments have 26-foot, 28-foot and possible 30-foot extension ladders. Which ones can be handled must be determined by the chiefs and company officers based on size and weight of the ladder.

Once the ladder complements are determined, this must be the subject of company drills to ensure that all members know what has been done to the ladders and how they are to be handled. They cannot be lowered below grade or off the roof of a taxpayer without being retied, but for most of our operations they can improve safety for the firefighting forces.

7_truck3.jpg
Photo by Michael M. Dugan
A firefighter raises a portable ladder with the fly section of the ladder facing away from the building. If the operation is being done alone, the firefighter will have a difficult time raising the ladder with the halyard toward the building.
This content continues onto the next page...