Recycled Aluminum: Using Your Grounded Ladders

Also See: Image Slideshow of Aluminum Recycled Training Prop

At some point in your fire service career, you may have to determine the fate of a condemned aluminum ground ladder. Whether it was caused by direct flame impingement, bent rails from an accident, or just basic wear and tear, you will need to remove it from active service.

Photo By Mark McLees
Old, out of service ground ladders can now be used to create a forcible entry simmulator such as the one shown. more

Your choices as what to do are many. Relegating it to either house maintenance or training gets it out of fire duty, but the liability of its continued use cannot be denied. Condemned ladders sometimes just "disappear" without question, making liability a moot point yet giving the ladder a second career outside of the fire service. Perhaps they may even find their way to the scrap metal scales.

One idea not readily apparent to most is to make a forcible entry simulator with the ladder. Firefighter Mark Schroeder of Rescue 1 in Syracuse crafted a simple yet workable training prop. Firefighters are able to train in the proper use of a gas-powered saw outfitted with a metal blade. The prop is re-usable due to the unique setup. Members are able to cut 5/8" re-rod which is slid into the rungs of the prop and secured using a vice grip. Members cut the exposed re-rod sticking out of the rung holes. This gives them the sense of cutting hard steel with the saw. It also forces the member to hold the saw in a more realistic position, such as waist or chest height. Most roll down gates or burglar bars are not at our feet, but at chest height or higher. It works for both left and right-handed users.

Additionally, bent re-rod can be used to simulate padlocks on security doors. By using a vise grip to hold and secure the steel, two members can train on the evolution which is needed to cut padlocks on roll down gates.

See accompanying photos for a detailed look at the forcible entry prop. The unit is portable and re-usable and is an excellent way to recycle those old aluminum ladders.