1. #1
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    Post footing ground ladders

    I am a retired professional firefighter who now belongs to a very rural volley dept. At a recent training session the Chief told us the ONLY way to "foot" a ground ladder is to stand between the ladder and the building and hold on. I've always thought the best/safest way was on the outside of the ladder, with feet at the bottom of the beams after raising ladder to correct climbing angle. Is my Chief correct? Can anybody provide info on safer/better alternatives??

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    I remember being taught the technique you describe of siting between the ladder and the building and then holding on and leaning back!

    Its not a position that can be maintained comfortably. I believe its origins lie in the thought that anything dropped from above is less likely to fall on the firefighter who is partially protected under the ladder.

    In the UK our 40,000 firefighters are all taught to foot a ladder as you suggest - facing the outside of the ladder (side away from the building) with one foot on the beam and one behind bracing your position on the ground. This way the ladder is fully supported against slippage and you can look up for a clearer picture of what is happening above.

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    In the Essentials I course, we were taught to foot the ladder on the outside with your feet. Years ago I was taught to stand under the ladder grasping a rung and using your weight to foot it. I have always felt that to be dangerous. If you're on the outside you can look up and move out of the way if necessary.

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    Maddawg,<br />I agree with you. I was taught, and still teach that when you foot a ladder you are on the outside, with your feet on the beams at the butts, and hands on the rails. The only time this isn't constant, is when someone begins to ascend the ladder. Then you position yourself between the ladder and and the building. And this usually is very efficient, because once you lay the ladder to the position you want the person who is standing under it, can foot it and then switch around to continue "healing" it once the other firefighter reaches a height where he won't interfere. It also gives the person more visualization with the other firefighter(s) if they are operating on the ladder, or if a window is taken, or as an extra pair of eyes. <br />But according to the IFSTA Manual, either method is a correct way.

    -------------------------------------------------<br />The above is my opinion/thoughts only and doesn't reflect that of any dept/agency I work for, deal with, or am a member. <img src="biggrin.gif" border="0">

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    If you foot the ladder on the outside, what do you do when the second firefighter gets on the ladder? Do you move out of the way, let the second FF get on, wait 'till that FF moves up so many rungs then foot again?

    Just wondering. I was trained to do it the "old fashioned" way, back to the wall, helmet on, face shield down. That way you supported the ladder no matter how many FF moved on or off.

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    Islander; all you do is move to the left side of the ladder while keeping one foot on the bottom rung. That way if he's carrying a tool up the right side you're not in his way. Same way if someone is coming down you can help them come down and give a count on remaining rungs and move to one side but still maintain control.

    If you stay on the outside you have more control of the situation than by being on the inside. Also you're out of the way if anything gets dropped.
    Steve Dragon
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    The only thing I can add to the above is the very important point...DO NOT LOOK UP UNLESS NECESSARY!! I have seen occasions where materials from the firefighting operation (embers, wood, tools) have proven Newton correct and have made forceful contact with the ground. Sometimes a firefighter has been at the receiving end of this "gravity test" and the fact that they were looking straight ahead with full PPE and shields down helped them go home that night. Be cautious and remember what you were taught.After all...it does all come down to the basics!
    Jeffrey D. Grey-Lieutenant
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    RFD220 you just proved why you shouldn't be under the ladder to foot it. If you can't or shouldn't look up how will you know to get out of the way of any falling objects.

    Best bet is to stay on the outside. That's the way we teach it at the Montgomery County (PA) Fire Academy.
    Steve Dragon
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    I probably should have clarified my point. Thank you for the "smack to the head" so to speak. I was not saying that people should foot underneath the ladder but rather in front of it. The only time I can see having a member under the ladder is during the placement to extend the rungs. Then that person should tie off the ladder and become either the "footer" or make their ascent. Also in the case of falling objects it is hoped that if it is a tool, someone above would shout or at least if the member had his/her head down that the helmet would deflect at least a blow that would have smacked someone in the mush. If you could move quickly to avoid the blow then great...but if not at least you might have a chance of not losing you sight or worse...making your face look like a plate of raw meat. But you are correct. We should be giving brief glances upward every now and then if for nothing else, to make sure your position is not becoming compromised by fire, electrical lines, etc. I stand partially corrected.

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    I have taught both ways to foot a ladder and instruct both ways. Alot of it depends on the situation, length of extension, type of ground you are on, can you tie the ladder off, and what the operation is i.e. working on or climbing.

    I know some FF tend to want to keep looking up when standing underneath it, luckily haven't had anything fall on them but I have done it too, because you want see if they are on the ladder again. One thing I like about standing in front of it, is you can still watch what is going on, and keep one foor on the rail when people are getting on/off.

    A little tid-bit I had one fire fighter healing the ladder on concrete fron underneath. The ladder gave way with one fire fighter on top, causing the ladder and fire fighter to come down on top of the other. That fire fighter was out for one year because of the open tib/fib fracture that was obtained.

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    Either way is corect per the IFSTA Maunal <img src="biggrin.gif" border="0">
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    Yes the IFSTA Essentials manual shows both ways but as instructors we have a responsibility to make sure our students make safe decisions during their firefighting career.

    We present the "outside" method way and tell them that the manual does show it but we think the outside is safer. We also always say that if your company does it differently don't go back to the station and tell the chief that. "the instructors said you're wrong."
    Steve Dragon
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    Personally, I prefer the method of standing outside. The few times that I have actually seen people drop equipment from a ladder, the tool usually falls down beside the ladder rather than bouncing behind and down the rungs. Either way, be safe.

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    I have spent alot of time on ladders with NO footing,
    that was in construction buisness though. I have never
    ran into any problem putting my ladder up, climbing it,
    and working on it pulling of siding, taking out windows,
    Hell, the first tim I had a ladder slip out was at a
    for my dept. which was being footed. I am all for not
    having anyone foot it, but that will not happen so ok.

    My question is if you are on a roof the situation worsens
    you come off of the roof, do a rail slide(extremly fun)
    and your footer is not paying attention, face it it happens
    next thing you know you just about took his head off with
    your scba, or nailed him in the chest with it.

    Never seen it happen, but think about it, it is entirely
    possible.

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    Hi ya gang,
    I cannot believe that in this "business" hundred year old questions are still basically unsolved for the next generation.
    Butting ladders is a lost art. Our real problem is that "passer by" firefighters don't have the work ethic to butt the ladder automatically. It is probably because the same leadership that
    "don't know" also destroyed the manning on the fire ground.
    Anyway butt the ladder by snubbing your foot on the outside of one or two butts where they touch the gound. If you work for someone other than me than you may have the time to stand on the bottom rung for a while and do nothing else.
    The inside method is non-sense.
    Look to the experience and not always to books that may be written by the only people that have nothing to do that week.
    Just kiddin
    TB

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    I will have to disagree with TB in part. Footing the ladder from underneath is not non-sence. It works just as well as the outside method. Just keep the spur from loosing contact with the ground using either method and all will be good. The important thing is not to walk past the ladder when it neeeeds to be footed. Take a few seconds to foot the ladder for your truck budy so no accidents happen.

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    Look to the experience and not always to books that may be written by the only people that have nothing to do that week.
    There are extremes in both thought patterns. If I may ask, is there any fire service book that you do refernece, and if so, when did you have time to read it, you know, gaining all that experience.

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    As an Instructor for the B.C. fire Service i examine firefighters "Footing" the ladder with themselves behind the ladder.This is the Standard and Acceptable practise north of the border.

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    I was taught both of these methods and happen to be a fan of the outside of the ladder. plus if u have to do a rail slide having someone @ the bottom to either stop/catch u is a good idea or if ur footer isnt playing attention they'll break ur fall, to me thats much better than crashing right into the ground.
    Member IACOJ & IACOJ EMS Bureau
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    seeing the close call for the guy from baltimore on the homepage here is the final word in why its a good idea to foot the ladder facing it!That huy tryin to bail out could have fallen and gotten seriosly hurt if not for the person footin the ladder.
    Member IACOJ & IACOJ EMS Bureau
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    I have to agree with 111Truck.

    Although IFSTA might say X or Y they write that book so as to sell it to the most departments. The techniquies contained within are good for teaching green recruits however expereince should have taught you that there is might be many ways but there is always one that is a better way than the others.(most of the better ways aren't contained within IFSTA books.)

    I feel that standing facing the building provides a more benefictial position. You can always see conditions. If you are footing the ladder and your partner(s) perform VES. By facing the building you can monitor smoke and fire conditions of the window he just entered or other parts of that structure. If fire starts to show from the top of the window your partner(s) might be unaware of the condition if the smoke is too thick. Or if you need to reposition the ladder you would be clueless to the need or changing conditions if you were standing under the ladder.

    That is what I practice and what I teach. There might be certian situations that require one to stand under the ladder however I feel that the position to the outside it the safest and most advantagous one to utilize.

    Two cents from a fireman.

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    Its funny that i came across this post today, in my combined firefighter I and II class, today we just did ladders. we were taught both ways and we practiced both ways. our instuctor told us that he prefered the outside method b/c he said it was safer and you put in a minimal effort. i personally prefer the inside method, because i feel it is a more secure stance, plus, if the ladder is at the proper 75.5 degree angle, that would usually not put you directly underneath the working area. just my opinion.

    steve

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