1. #1
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    Default Ladder pipe operations

    Something has been bugging me, so I thought I'd put it out for everyone's opinion.

    On the back cover of Dec. Fire Engineering is an ad for PBI Gold. It describes a firefighter operating a ladder pipe at a fire and being caught, I guess, to close to the fire. "...Looking down she saw her boots and reflective tape burning..." What the hell was a firefighter doing in that situation anyway. Who put the ladder up so that it could become a barbecue grill? I'm going out on a limb with this but it is my feelings that no one should be at the tip of a ladder (not a tower) while it is flowing water. Most pipes are remote control or have ropes on them so their is no need to be up there.

    It drives me crazy to think a firefighter was off the job for 10 weeks for something like that.

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    Post Well........

    Again, this seems to be another case of "only half the story", as far as that ad goes. I have seen it, and on the surface, I agree with the observation that no one should have been put in that position. I, for one, also feel that there are a few suppliers who use information in an attempt to sell something, in a manner that is less than appropriate. I would think that anyone who questions the content, motive, or validity of something like this should be questioning the source of the story, in this case, the PPE Distributors. Stay Safe....
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    If her boots were burning, what was it doing to the stick?

    Stay Safe

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    That was my first thought, PA.

    BUT....

    From the "benefit of a doubt" department, perhaps a wind change put her in harm's way unexpectedly. Perhaps the pipe was old and had to be manually positioned. Perhaps there had been no vertical venting of the fire until after she reached her perch.

    But if there's not a perhaps to explain this away, you're right, it's senseless.
    "Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.
    --General James Mattis, USMC


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    1. Like EastKY said, perhaps something changed like the wind shifted.

    2. When using ladder pipes to attack a fire, you can't always judge them effectively from the ground. You need someone up top, or you need a TIC camera mounted to the nozzle.

    Maybe with the newer heavy duty ladders, maybe I wouldn't need a tip person when being aggressive at low angles (under eaves, through store fronts, etc).

    But when operating in a more traditional role, with the stick up a 70 degrees and blowing down on a building that no longer has a roof, how can you judge what or where that stream is doing without being up there?

    Certainly there's times you just setup to surround and drown and don't have to care how effective you are in attack the fire, or the scene is such you don't care if you're hitting the fire or blowing in the backyard. There are other times performance counts.

    In that close proximity to other staffed trucks, I can't see it being safe not to have eyes on that ladder pipe. And I've been there when we held a mill fire that was igniting the phone poles, sliding the siding off the houses along two sides, and melted the first two 5" lines -- just because the pipes were up didn't mean an aggressive effort wasn't still underway to hold the fire from spreading to the dense, woodframe mill housing around it. In that fire our ladder (me on top) was operating to let two Towers stay in position instead of withdrawing.

    I've also been on the tip at barn fires where it took a good eye up there to aim and use the pipe effectively. At one I had to work it from the edges in, otherwise the thermal updraft in the center was carrying the stream away. That's not something easy to see, and certainly not easy to aim, blindly whether by ropes or remote control. And since the exposures there, too, where smoking and you couldn't get ground streams down in between the length of the buildings, knocking down the fire quickly was important.

    Judgement, experience, timing is important. That barn fire I went up to the tip, got ready, and then waited nearly 10 minutes for water (it was a 3000' lay back to the pond). I took a lot of radiant heat unneccessarily -- should've tied the pipe off, come down, and once water was flowing gone back up to adjust and work it.

    Now, I'd just as well like to have a TIC mounted to the tip rather than anyone up there. Unfortunately, we don't have that, yet. But just because these are the big guns doesn't mean we fire them blindly.

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    Just a little tid bit...The Chicago Fire Department forbids its members to operate at the tip during ladder pipe operations. The reasoning is that with Tower ladders and snorkles there is no good reason to have a firefighter at the tip...Any thoughts?

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    Dalmatian90, I can see your point about it being hard to judge where the stream is going.

    I am also a firm believer in using the right tool for the right job, and in my opinion a stick isn't the right tool. A tower ladder, ladder tower, snorkel is a much better choice for an aerial master stream. I also understand that some towns have one truck and have to make due with whatever they have.

    As far as sticks go I prefer them without a prepiped waterway, or at liest one that can be left on the bed section when not needed. I also can do without the lights, tools, outlets, and all of the other stuff that is often mounted to them. For me a ladder is for rescue and it can also be used to take windows for ventilation.

    Don't get me wrong, it is a great view from up there, and if your in that mode it sure beats sitting on the ground on a monitor, but as we have seen in many videos and classes it leaves a firefighter exposed and puts him at much greater risk then a bucket.

    I've was always taught that you shouldn't be on the tip of a ladder during ladder pipe use, and that's my .02

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    I'd tend to agree with you ADSN that there's better tools for water towers than a ladder.

    But with everything, compromise. And perceptions. Some people think a Telesqurt doesn't have enough strength or a wide enough ladder. Some think a Tower is to wide to go between trees on a long horizontal reach. So we end up with a Ladder, pre-piped, in a rural area. Works well, even though a Telesqurt would've been fine.

    Wonder sometimes if they could make a waterway that would pin back on the bed section. Most (all?) of them are pinned to the 2nd from the fly section -- so even when pinned, they're most of the way out there and in the way. Pin it to the bed, still have it pre-piped, but mostly out of the way.

    At any rate, how many "rules" we have in the fire service developed in a different day and age? I've run ladder pipes on a 1947 Seagraves. Then a 1976 Mack -- wow, huge difference there. Now a 2001 Pierce that can flow water at angles and extensions our Mack couldn't even go dry. Was this "no one on the ladder tip during ladder pipe operations" rule come about back in the days of the lightweight ladders, perhaps even the wooden ones, rather than the Heavy Duty Aerials of today?

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    ADSN,

    I agree with your sentiments. I had the same reaction when I saw that ad. I thought, Ah must be passing out the PBI Gold Dum Dum Award. I dont see the benefit of placing a person on the tip at the onset of a defense operation. I can see climbing up to take a look and then gettin back down if it is safe to do so, but to operate from the tip is only puttin personnel at risk. The reason Chicago and NY and other big cities dont allow personnel on the tip is because they have killed people that way. not everything Chicago or NY does applies to smaller depts, but some things do and the reason those big depts do the things they do is because they had to learn the hard way at the cost of peoples lives. It would be wise for us to adopt tactics, when applicable, that big depts do before we have to learn the hard way ourselves. It really bothers me when i hear guys say, "Well this isnt Chicago or something like that" when u try to show them a diff tactic or procedure.

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    Dal, don't quote me on this, but the CFD policy is fairly recent. On any Still and Box alarm (similar to "all hands" or a full first alarm)a Tower ladder responds along with the Squad which is a two-piece unit that has a snorkle. If aerial master streams need to be used,these are utilized first. They do use ladder pipes, but they are operated from the ground. I am reminded on how dangerous being at the tip is when about a year ago we were on a large warehouse fire. One of the trucks utilized was not pre-piped. The firefighter at the tip was taking an absolute beating. It just struck me as dumb to risk someones life for a piece of s**t unoccupied building. I am all for being aggressive but with todays equipment, there is really no good reason to expose our people to the dangers associated with being at the tip. Keep up the discussion...Lets see some more views.

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    Here is my take on the subject. There are many ways to look at the issue and I think that the biggest factor in deciding whether one sends members to the tip of an aerial ladder is the age, maintenance, and history of the apparatus.

    From what I've seen many depts. that prohibit the practice of personnel on tips of ladders also have (or had) older lighter duty ladders, many times these ladders are not pre-piped.

    I think that the policies formed (as most policies are)based on historical experience of that particular dept. Over the years the dept moved from spring loaded wooden ladders to the newer steel ladders that also had severe restrictions on weigh capacities.

    On the other side there are many new ladders out there that have ever increasing tip loads with and without pre-piped waterways. These ladders can take weight that in years past was unheard of.

    Maintenance also plays a big roll. If you can't trust your equipment because it isn't regularly checked then you really aren't in the position in putting Firefighters on the tips for defensive ops. One would only have to look to the Kansas City FD in the early 90s when the city failed to maintain their ladders (citizens voted down a bond issue to fix and replace the aging fleet)...a brother perched on top of a fly pipe at an apartment fire fell when the ladder (reserve apparatus) failed in the middle. The ladder with him fell and luckily for him landed on the third(or fourth) floor roof a few more inches and he would have fallen all the way to the ground.

    As for my dept we have aerials that have tip and pedestal controls all are newer than 1994 and I have controlled the stream from tip and ground. I personally see no danger in being at the tip and I personally see no difference between a bucket and a straight ladder...other than the water curtain below.

    In order to properly control and direct the stream and gain the maximum effect and benefit from the stream I can see no other way than to place a member at the top of the stick to direct it. This avoids undue property loss and reduces the amount of time it takes to extinguish the fire.

    The above is entirely based off of my depts practice and my experience in our city. Your situation and structures and apparatus might dictate otherwise.

    FTM-PTB
    Last edited by FFFRED; 12-18-2002 at 11:33 AM.

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    Well, our ladder is only 55' Teleboom from E-One. Waterway is prepiped with nozzle operation available from the pump panel and also the end of the ladder. In defensive mode, when aerials are in use, we normally don't have anyone on the end of the ladder operating the nozzle. When majority of the fire is knocked down, we will then send someone up as we are looking for "hot spots" and need to have the better view/aim. I will agree that when going defensive/exterior attack, it's not worth the risk.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    it is policy in our dept not to operate aerial nozzles with personel on the ladder. we have one old aerial that the nozzle is operated by means of ropes, the others are motorized.

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    In Houston there is no order against manning the nozzle on the ladder pipe for exterior operations. For the same reasons mentioned earlier such as better ladders, the need to see where your putting the water, etc. we can and do put a truck man on the tip. We however are a little different, with 614 square miles to cover we have only 3 Ladder Tower Co.'s out of 36 Truck Co.'s. Unless the Tower Co. is on the box or gets in quick on the 2-11 they are out of position most of the time. The only choice is then the closest (Usually the "Box" Truck Co.'s) being set up for ladder pipe operations. We use excellent aerials and have had no problems with them or manning the nozzle on the tip for operations.
    As for Chicago, the Squad Co. (Primary Rescue Rig and 2nd piece 55' Snorkel) goes on some of the Still Alarms, and if not they go when it is "Boxed." On the box they get a Ladder Tower Co. in addition to the Squad Co. It is my understanding from riding with Squad Co. 01 a few years ago, that the Snorkels and Ladder Towers are the preffered method for aerial master streams. The Truck Co.'s can go in service for aerial master stream operations but are not typically. There is also the rarely known fact about a "Reserve Snorkel" that is quite busy. It is in with Engine Co. 42 (I Believe) and will turn out for aerial master stream operations when needed. Anyone from CFD correct me where needed. Just some thoughts.
    Stay low and move it in.

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    Default No one on the stick

    The overwhelming majority of our aerials are light or medium duty tractor drawn Seagraves with one jack on each side. Most Truck guys here love them. Ninety percent of our fires are residential. Washington is not a city with factories and mills. Not many warehouses either. Tons of rowhouses,garden aprtments and mid rise walkups. Towers don't work too well on our tight streets except in the area most people see when they're vacationing here.We usually have one in our fleet of aerials. We have pre-piped bed sections but the rest of the stick is not. The ladder I'm assigned to drills a lot in putting our ladder pipe in service.Over the years I've heard some guys say "if we gotta use the stick it's too late to save it anyhow." They're probably right most of the time but it's not cool to look bad while trying to get your pipe in service so we try to stay on top by practicing for time.Even though we are an active company,we seldom use the ladder pipe.If we do, we seldom pour water from above; most of the time we try to apply the stream from under the fire at a 45 degree angle for deflection or even with the window. We even have the control arm pre-set to flow that way instead of pointing down. We use ropes to control the pipe.
    Last edited by R1SAlum; 12-18-2002 at 04:02 PM.

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