Maydays from the Roof: Simple Extrication Techniques

Operating on the roof can be a very high-risk area on the fireground. "Making" the roof has to be based on a combination consisting of the construction of the building, experience, skill level and training of the firefighter. Any given number of...


Another technique for removing a firefighter from the roof is the Ladder Fulcrum. Working off a flat roof is a requirement to utilize this method. The main advantage of this technique is that it allows the victim to be lowered in a horizontal position when performed correctly.

Ladder Fulcrum Removal

To perform the Ladder Fulcrum Removal method:

  1. The RIT will raise a ladder to the roof and ascend with the following;
  • Rescue litter
  • Rope
  • Webbing or "Rescue Loops"
  • 5 to 6 carabiners
  • Just like the Rescue Litter Slide, the injured firefighter's SCBA will have to be repositioned in order to allow them to be secured into the litter prior to lowering. This can be accomplished by removing it and placing it on top of the victim or off to their side in the litter. The victim is then secured in the litter by connecting the straps.
  • The base of the ladder will be set flush against the wall and will be required to have three to four rungs exposed over the roofline (see Photo 8).
  • The foot end of the litter will be attached to the second rung exposed over the roofline. This will be accomplished with webbing and carabiners. Rescuers should make certain that there will be enough slack in the webbing to allow the litter to pivot without being caught against the ladder. "Rescue Loops" can be used in place of webbing if available (see Photo 9).
  • The head of the litter will have two ropes attached with a figure eight knot or carabiner. This provides the rescuers on the roof a method of controlling the rate and angle of descent for the litter. The rescuers on the roof will control these lines by utilizing a body wrap. (Photo 10)
  • The litter is then moved over the edge of the roof while the rescuers at ground level begin to walk the ladder down utilizing a hand-over-hand method (Photo 11). It is imperative that the base of the ladder be tight to the wall at all times and tension be maintained on the guidelines by rescuers on the roof to keep the litter level at all times until it is down on the ground. Slack should be allowed equally on the two lines to lower the litter evenly. The crew leader will have to be positioned at the roof's edge to relay critical information and direction to the rescuers on the guide line once the litter is out of their field of vision below the roof line.
  • The fireground is a rapidly changing dynamic and we should train to recognize as well as reduce or eliminate risks whenever possible. Any number of events can take place to cause the need to perform a removal of a firefighter from the roof level. The safety of the rescuers as well as time permitted to make a rescue from a roof will dictate as to what technique can be utilized for removal. The only way to find out what works best is to train and practice with numerous techniques before they are needed - is your crew ready for the challenge?

    JEFFREY PINDELSKI, a 24-year plus student of the fire service, is the deputy chief of operations with the Downers Grove, IL, Fire Department. He is a Firehouse.com contributing editor and is the co-author of the text: R.I.C.O. - Rapid Intervention Company Operations, and is a revising author of the third edition of the Firefighter's Handbook. Pindelski has earned a masters degree from Lewis University and was a recipient of the State of Illinois Firefighting Medal of Valor in 1998.