Sunday, August 23

Sunday Fun - Ladders

I was reading a book to one of the little ones the other night and had to answer some pretty tough operational questions from a 3 year old. The book was Richard Scarry's Busiest Firefighters Ever! and the cover is just hilarious. Aside from the engine operator wearing a cooking pot for a helmet (with Company number) and the Officer wearing a colander and playing trombone, one of the firefighters is clinging to a pompier ladder as they drive along.

My little one commented that he was not sitting safely and that the ladder looked funny. She will one day make a great Truck boss.

But it got me thinking about the wide variety of ladders both in our past and in our present.

Looking through the IFSTA manuals we see all manner of ladder raises and techniques. The 3 man 35'. The 4 man 35'. The 1 man 24' etc etc. So what are we running with?

Most engines are wandering town with the standard 10' attic, 12-14 foot straight and the go to 24'.

Ladder and Truck Companies, however, seem to produce odd ladders at odd times.

The pompier ladder was a center beam rung ladder with a 2-3 foot barbed arm on the end. This ladder allowed a firefighter to scale the exterior of the building without placing a ground ladder. In the days of having an escape route, it is impractical for sure. If you have one of these it needs to be adorning your wall, not your ladder tray.

In my opinion your fire escape ladder and your 6' A frame ladder are your most important ladders for quick deployment. The fire escape ladder for obvious reasons and the 6' A frame to get in quick and plug those pesky fire sprinklers.

San Francisco, California still operates wooden ground ladders on account of the numerous above ground electrical supplies still common in most neighborhoods. Each of their Trucks carry a 50' wooden extension ladder weighing in at 350 lbs and requiring 6 people to raise. Then they brace that with a 24' straight ladder. It looks VERY heavy.

At the 100th anniversary of the Great Earthquake and Fire, they brought out the last of the 65' wooden ladders, only used for demonstration.
From the SFFD Historical Society:
"The 65 foot ladder was the principal means of rescue before the advent of the aerial ladder and was also used in locations were the aerial ladder trucks could not operate. The ladder can, when fully extended, reach a five story roof or a sixth floor window."

The Mumbai Fire Brigade, when dealing with a stressful situation and heavy fire with hundreds trapped, tried a new way to raise a ladder with poles, pull them. Check out they guy in the bottom center of the photo. Apparently it worked and they made many a rescue.

And on a lighter note, who can tell me what is wrong with this ladder placement?


Fire Critic said...

Whats wrong? There is a Chief on it! That is whats wrong. Are they trying to burn the place down?

Lower Than Crap Explorer said...

They laddered a chimney?

Lower Than Crap Explorer said...

Uhhh...forgive me for being stupid thinking that that's a chimney, but I agree with Fire Critic, the Chief's on it!

TOTWTYTR said...

As a none fire fighter, but a guy who has put up a few ladders here and there, I think the error is that the top of the ladder extends over the roof line. Maybe fire ladders are different, but construction/painting/whatever ladders have feet at the top that help keep the ladders from sliding over.

Or am I barking up the wrong ladder?

Lower Than Crap Explorer said...

Hmmm....third time has to be the charm. Is it that the ladder's angle against the building is too great?

The Happy Medic said...

We routinely leave 3-5 rungs above the edge so we can see it from the other side of the roof to get down easily. It also makes climbing on and off easier.

Firstly, I know the feeling of having that big EXP on your helmet while the rest of the company is doing something cool. Keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut. You'll learn a lot. And the problem with the ladder placement? Someone put it under the Chief. FC was correct. This fire is never going out.


Michael Morse said...

Part of our training in the Providence Fire Department involves climbing the seven story training tower using...pompier ladders. The reason for the drill, we are told is to embed a trust of our equipment into our subconscious minds. Every trainee has to do it, no excuses. It is easy for some difficult for others. We do it one story at a time, always spotted by another trainee. It is a good teamwork builder.