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Does you company/department routinely drill in ground ladder evolutions? Do ground ladders get thrown routinely at every incident or are they an afterthought?

Can your company quickly and safely complete a ground ladder evolution in order to rescue a trapped member or a civillian?

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1 skill we practice quite often is using the portable ladder to replace a stairway. Had a good stairwell job the other night. 4story occupied Multiple Dwelling. We used portable ladders to get from the 1st to the 3rd floor. Fire extinguishment on the top floor was via Tower Ladder and a handline . If you run the ladder up the wall side and then place it down, it is easier to manuever. If your not sure of the length required, the 24 foot extension will do. Just limit the manpower on the ladder to necessary personnel.
I am very fortunate, a working fire on my job gets you 5 engines, 1 truck, Safety and a B/C (27 persons). With the press of a button we can get an extra engine/truck or multiple alarms. Ladders can go up like the wind. Do they always? No...it depends on the situation. My question is what are the fire departments, the average ones, who are operating 2 and 3 persons on an engine and 1 or 2 man trucks to do? I know of many small career departments that operate with an on-duty staff of 4 to 6 persons. What about the volunteer departments that only get a hand full of responders?

Before I came to my current job, I spent 10 years on a small-town career department. We protected 20,000 people in about 4 sq. mi. with 2 engines, a truck, staffed by 6 to 8 people depending on manpower for the shift, out of two firehouses. On my shift, I was the truck company. Did I put up ladders? Yes, by myself, so did one of the engine chauffuers if the need arose while I was engaged in another function. Our truckies performed with capabilities far disproportionate to our number of one. How? Through daily intensive training. We also prioritized every fire operation. Usually focusing on forcible entry, ventilation and search. Laddering was used as a tool to accomplish those. Once the pump operator was set, if crews were operating on the second floor, he would put at least one ladder up for egress. We also utilized VES quite successfully. We developed methods that allowed one person to transport equipment and ladders together easily and quickly as well as some techniques that allowed a single person to raise ladders. Not because we liked operating like this, but out of necessity.
I have been BLESSED. I can't begin to imagine HOW do the small department do it? We get 21 guys going to a possible structure fire.If it is bonafide another 12(not including EMS)
My department's ladder usage depends on the type of building. Some require more laddering than others. They wil be used for VES and egress agumentation.
If you are planning a ladder drill try this variation. Have each member of the company take an extension ladder 24' and have them raise it for a rescue (to a window) only three rungs higher. Watch and see who uses the halyard and does it very formally and who just holds the ladder and pushes the rungs upward. You may not see the second type unless they were shown or they are a homeowner or painter, roofer etc.
In our job ground ladder proficiency is measured company by company with some more committed than others. We have, however made progress in getting back to raising ground ladders routinely at all fires to provide a secondary means of egress on upper floors. In my ladder company we make it a practice to drill with our ground ladders several times a month. One of the most valuable skills we practice is the single firefighter raise with a 24' extension ladder. This will get us to the second floor for quick VES, or firefighter or civilain rescue. The fact that it is an easy ladder for one member to raise butted against a building is important when we have multiple rescue priorities and short staffed companies. Our initial assignment is 3 engines, 1 ladder, 1 squad, 1 BC, with 15 firefighters. A worker gets an additional engine and EMS unit bringing the first alarm to 20 members. When I was a lieutenant in an engine company I instructed my chauffers that when we were first in with members operating on the second floor, after he charged all lines streched and took in his water supply, he was to raise a 24' ladder to the side opposite the fire and advise the IC over the radio so everyone operating at the fire would be aware of this. I know this is also a good job for the FAST company, but I wanted to know this was done every time. My advice- keep throwing those ladders, they Will save a life.
Hey Chris. We routinely drill with ground ladders. The AFD is definitely proficient in deploying and setting up ground ladders in a timely manner. As a company and as a station we drill on ground ladders and aerial use and deployment on a regular basis. There are many areas and skills that need attention within the AFD; fortunately ground ladders are not one of those techniques.
My dept. trains with all of our ground ladders on an annual basis. We recently went from manning 1 Aerial Ladder and 1 Tower Ladder to only manning 1 Tower Ladder, so our need to place ground ladders has increased, realizing that the Tower bucket cannot get to places that the straight stick could get to. The Tower Ladder is manned with 1-2, with 1 member of the Rescue (ambulance) assigned to work with the Tower crew, giving us 1-3 at the scene.

Reading some of the other replies, I noticed that some are performing the 1 person raise of the 24' ladder. That is an excellent tactic for the safety of our members. However, I have seen a lot of newer Engine Co's. being delivered with a 28' ladder.

There is no reason why we cannot place ground ladders at every fire with the crew that we have. The only challenge would be the 45' pole ladder, which we would combine 2 companies to carry/raise. After all, if a rescue has to be made on the B,C,or D sides that the Tower can't reach, that is our longest ground ladder.

As far as throwing ground ladders at every incident. They do get thrown at almost every incident, but sometimes as an afterthought. It depends on the incident priorities and the discretion of the IC. However, I feel that once a second Ladder Co. is on scene, they should be throwing ground ladders to all floors for our members egress.
We perform 1 person raises with the two section 24 and 28, and the three section 26. 35' are two or three person raises and 40'+ tormented ladders are 4 minimum.
I think our department doesnt really get the importance of ground ladders. When I instruct Search & Rescue drills I always state that Ladders should be placed on at least 2 sides of the structure for entry and egress per floor. The major concern I have now is when were talking about using a ladder tip to vent windows instead of placing the ladder beside the sill then repositioning the ladder after venting, when your ready to enter. Our department has always based our skills from Essesntials - IFSTA which is a grear learning tool for basic firefighting however we need to get past the basics and move forward with tasks that work.
Were getting better with ground ladders.
This is a topic that concerns me. Just in my 1st in district I have approx. 140 garden style apartments. If the stairwell is the sorce of fire then all the occupants are essentially trapped. Younger occupants will jump from a second story window but they are building several 3-story, wood frame, versions and in a few instances even 4-story. There isn't hard surface on all three sides of the buildings so ground ladder skills have to improve. I am going to start a drill next week that I'm calling the "Ground Ladder Grind." The crew will have 3 different objective at 3 different levels. They will be timed to see how long it takes for them to reach the objectives, meaning safely place the ladder, climb it, retrieve the assigned object.

I hope that faced with this challenge periodically will cause the officers to train more effectively.
Department wide,they are a complete after thought. I drill my group on ladders at least once a month, especially the 40 pole ladder. We do still use this ladder occasionally due to the tight neighborhoods etc... We don't routinely throw them at fires due to manpower issues. We try to focus on the basics and when we drill and I like to pit 2 man teams against each other to increase the competition. It seems to work and if you do it the best you have bragging rights for awhile.

The manpower issue has rearedit's ugly head more than once. We have 3 on our truck but if the second ambulance leavse for a medical aid, we are down to a driver/operator. We had a large fire back in December and I had a ladder driver only trying to place a 35 foot ladder to a third floor window for rescue and my company couildn't help due to being committed to interior operations. Unfortunately a couple of cops tried to help and it went bad from there and resulted in a fatality.
How about heeling a ladder? From the front or the back? I never thought something as simple as this would become an issue, but never say never!

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