Members of Pond Hill-Lily Lake Fire Company completed a ladder based in-house training day to improve basic ladder techniques. The training started with proper ladder movement and placement skills on a fire ground and then turned to how each type of ladder is utilized. Our department carries three main types of ladders, these are single (or roof) ladders, extension ladders, and folding (or attic) ladders.
For those that are not familiar with ladders, here is a quick summary. Single ladders are generally 10’ to 16’ and are used to gain access to one and two story buildings, our single ladders have roof hooks on them which allow us to latch the ladder onto a roof peak and use the ladder as a support platform when doing work on a roof. Extension ladders are generally 24’ to 35’, but you can find these much taller, and are used for high level structures and for gaining access to roofs. Folding ladders are fairly small ladders that can be folded length-wise to greatly reduce their size, generally these are used inside a structure (e.g. attic access), but with an 8’ to 16’ length these are still capable as normal ladders. All fire department ladders must meet NFPA certifications, which basically means they can hold a lot more weight and abuse then your standard hardware store purchased ladder, but this also comes at a vastly increased cost. All of our ladders are aluminum construction, but you can find departments using wood and fiberglass as well. Of course there are more types of ladders and more uses for each one we already stated, but this was just a summary for the most basic aspects.
As far as the training on the ladders went, members started by practicing leg locks in order to secure themselves to a ladder without the use of a ladder belt or specialized device. Afterwards they practiced techniques to bring both a conscious and unconscious victim down a ladder. Victim removal is a vital skill for any firefighter as it is extremely hard to aid a firefighter on a ladder once removal has begun. Members then focused on gaining access to a roof and placing a roof ladder onto the structure before stepping onto the roof. As stated earlier, roof ladders are used to provide a working platform on a roof as falling though a weakened roof into a burning building is critical situation we try to avoid.
After the hands on training, members went over different ladder concepts. Ladders are a vital means of access and more importantly emergency escape routes for firefighters, but are often under utilized on scenes. This is one concept of the fire service where you can truly say that more is always better.