I am currently a volunteer firefighter who will be starting 240-hour fire school. I've always hade difficulty with ladders. I am a chicken when it comes to heights. Rumor has it that you have timed climb on an ariel ladder. Does anyone have any suggestions to help me prepare for this? (Okay, so maybe I am a wimp.)
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Thread: oh no. ladders.
02-20-1999, 03:11 PM #1JAY FROM OHIOFirehouse.com Guest
oh no. ladders.
02-20-1999, 04:27 PM #2nsfirechapFirehouse.com Guest
Don't feel alone. When I joined Air force fire Protection school in 1977 I had a horrible fear of heights. The way I got over it was by CLIMBING LADDERS, being taught the safe way by experts. What helped me most were the confidnece builders-tying off with a ladder balt and leaning over backwards, being held in place by the belt, and also locking into the rungs with my kness and leaning over backwards. Never did think I'd get over my fears but I did. Twenty two years ladder climbing ladders is not my favorite thing to do, but I am able to do it.
North Star Fire Department
North Pole, Alaska
02-21-1999, 12:58 AM #3Andy HenneFirehouse.com Guest
I am currently a Captain with the Malmstrom AFB Fire Dept. in Montana. I agree wholeheartedly with Jeff Turkel. JUST DO IT!!!!!!! I too, have never been overly excited about heights, but Air Force Fire Protection has taught me how to climb ladders with confidence. In Germany I was privileged to work on the Air Force's first aerial to be placed in Europe. It was a 102ft KME AerialCat. Imagine being 102 ft up in a bucket!! We used to climb it as well. Quite an experience.
I've also rapelled a lot which is a whole other experience with heights you'll want to try later in your career.
Go for it, Jay. Just play it safe and learn all you can. And perhaps most important- keep this job fun. There's none other like it...
02-22-1999, 11:37 AM #4iwood51Firehouse.com Guest
I couldn't agree more with the posts. The only way to get over this is by doing it. Weren't you a little scared the first time you put on an SCBA, and subsequently, the first time you were in a working structure fire? I'm sure you can think of other things that initially bothered you about the Fire Service that are now second nature to you. I have been doing this for 15 years now and I'm still not a big fan of heights, although there are others that ladders are second nature (I had one guy in that was a roofer and literally danced up ladders - Now moved to Easton, MD (Hi Steve if you're in)).
Sorry for babbling, but as all have previously said (Including Nike?) Just do it.
02-22-1999, 01:15 PM #5Captain HickmanFirehouse.com Guest
Your not a wimp...sometimes it takes time. If you have to do it one step at a time, just like walking. Sometimes people can't "Just do it." It take's time. Don't be afraid of height or anything else, just have a healthy respect for what ever it maybe. You know what can happen if you screw up, so plan on NOT screwing up. Do it safely, using a ladder belt and methodically, one step at a time. If doing it for a timed event, just work at it as safely as you can.
02-22-1999, 06:35 PM #6JAY FROM OHIOFirehouse.com Guest
Thank you to everyone who has responded. I was beginning to think that I was the only firefighter who experienced fear and reservations related to laddders and heights. I will apply your advice to literally taking that first step.
02-24-1999, 02:08 AM #7andyS5Firehouse.com Guest
First of all your not a wimp or a chicken being up on a ladder is not what I consider a good time. There was a guy in my class when I went to my advanced SCBA course what he did was from day 1 had them put the ladder trcuk up and worked his way up I'am sure your not the first and won't be the last to feel this way but your instuctors will work with you that's what they do jay they teach like I said tell them and ask them to work with you and agian your not a wimp or a chicken good luck in your school.
02-25-1999, 04:31 AM #8bjrdnFirehouse.com Guest
In this business there is no such thing as a wimp. It takes a lot of courage just to do the things we do. Some say when it comes to common sense we don't have any because most people run out of burning buildings, we run into them. Now if this is what being a wimp is, we are all guilty.
As for ladders, they aren't my most favorite part of the job but I learned to conquer them and go on. When I first started out, we had an 85 ft. aerial, I thought it was awfully high. But now with our new one, it was a piece of cake. We now have a 105 ft.
Just remember what Jeff, Ian and Andy said
take it slow and safe until you feel confident.
02-25-1999, 12:52 PM #9TankerFirehouse.com Guest
YOU ARE NOT A WHIMP! As the other posts have said, and I agree with them. Ahter over twentys years I still do not like going up a ladder, but I have learned, with the help of others, to pace my self. If you now the time on this test, practice and pace yourself. Get the time in at or under the test time and then make it up in another test, doning SCBA, or what ever. If nothing else your look good doing it.
03-13-1999, 03:06 AM #10trk12Firehouse.com Guest
Being on a Ladder Co. I regularly climb ladders. When I go out and do demos for kids I normally climb a fully extended aerial (100-110 ft. depending on the apparatus) and have the operator rotate me. I still get nervous. YOU are not a wimp!!! Keep up the good work.
Robert E. Shelton
03-23-1999, 11:36 PM #11ReneeFirehouse.com Guest
Jay you are no whimp. The fact is that you have already established yourself as a man's man by just joining a fire department. I was more scared of putting on a Scott than a hundred foot ladder. I'm only about five feet two and I'm a woman at that. After you go through your mask confidence course and climb the aerial you'll be okay. I climb that aerial like a squirrel with almost 150lbs of gear weighing me down. I love being a fireman and being able to help my neighbors... you'll be OK. Keep us posted on your progress.
03-24-1999, 03:40 PM #12Kramer1075Firehouse.com Guest
Don't be afraid of heights. Listen, I was afraid my first couple of times on an ariel ladder. You have to start off slow (20,30,40,50ft and so on) It gets easier as you do it like anything else you have to work at it.
03-25-1999, 10:49 PM #13Perry2085Firehouse.com Guest
You are not alone with the fear of ladders. I too am from Ohio. Up in NE Ohio at Perry Fire Dept along the Lake Erie shore. One way that hepled me when I went through the 240 class and we had to climb a 60' Bangor ladder was to look at the beams of the ladder and just climb. This was especially scary when we had to climb over the top and come down the other side. But I did it and currently I am not scared of ladders. We also climbed a 100' Ariel Truck and that was a cake walk compared to the other. Good luck and don't worry. I think in this job it is always good to be a little scared because it helps you think more about your training.
Perry Fire Dept.
03-28-1999, 04:44 PM #14Fire Hunter 2Firehouse.com Guest
Well you covered the first step..Being honest. As a firefighter, you will be expected to be a person to wear many hats. There will be times that you will not like the hat that you will be asked to wear. If you are ever asked to do something you don't like or are uncomfortable with then let someone know. We are a team and are supposed to help each other out through thick and thin. I may be uncomfortable with another area, but I know that I can depend on my fellow brothers and sisters to back me up with support. Besides, there is nothing fun about climbing a ladder with full turnout and gear (scba/tools) and not have a little support to back you up, no matter how many years you have been a firefighter. Good luck with your class and welcome aboard...
[This message has been edited by Fire Hunter 2 (edited March 28, 1999).]
03-29-1999, 12:40 AM #15EngineCoGirlFirehouse.com Guest
Well check that out, i'm not alone! I think i'm one of the only people in my dept that's scared of ladders. Almost everyone in my dept knows i don't like ladders and i'm not about to attempt someting i'm not comfortable with. Whether it's training, class or on scene fires..i let them know i will not climb ladders and they respect that. I've managed to avoid ladders this far, but since i'm going to college for fire science in the fall i am going to teach myself slowly to climb ladders. I just figure i'll start by simply climbing it, then in turnout gear, then in gear and SCBA. I'm just gonna work on it like that and see if it helps me. What really gets me is stepping from the ladder to the roof, and roof to ladder. You guyz should've seen my in my EF class in '92...geeze Good Luck!
~Real heros wear SCBA, not capes~
04-01-1999, 12:29 PM #16e33Firehouse.com Guest
It is important to realize that fears are irrational. In order to overcome these fears, you must psych your self up and reinforce that you understand that you must get over the fear. For example, many people say that they are clostrophobic. True claustorphobia would cause a person to not tolerate being in a normal sized room. This is often a problem when it is SCBA time, and people say they cant wear the mask. It is something you have to build in yourself, and step 1 is understanding that it is irrational. Climbing ladders is the same way. Convince yourself that you can do it, admit that your fear is irrational and start somewhere. Don't spend time contemplating it, it is more apt to make you fail. Anyone can do it. It is all a matter of being in the right frame of mind. Good luck.
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