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Here is one mans opinion.
Not too long ago, there was a bit of an arguement about training firefighters to perform the "head-first" bailout, as well as the "rope slide". I fully agree with DC John Salka, that if you don't train and create "muscle memory" for a particular evolution, you are very likely not going to succeed if and when the tactic is needed. I feel it is up to the trainers to create a safe environment to allow members the opportunity to practice these dangerous skills. Obviously, a strong system of belay lines are necessary, and trainers who are well versed in the hazards as well as safe techniques to perform the skills necessary for self-rescue.
Our job is dangerous, and we must train as closely as possible to reality, while implementing a level of safety for the personnel who's lives may depend on it someday. In my dept alone, we have done such training, and the ladder bail out has been performed at a working fire more than once already. If one life is saved!
I have also been involved in a training day where one firefighter fell from the ladder approx 15' up. The belay line was properly managed, and no harm came to the member. We must train in firefighting more than ever since the incidence of fire is less.
Phil Lemire

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This is a dangerous job, with proper instruction we can reduce the risk of injury. Get out of the fire house and train. We spend so much time on OSHA regs, Hazmat, and Confine Space, yes all are improtant but we need not to lose sight of what is killing us.
I second those statements. Get out and train. If you've never done a ladder bailout or rope bailout, when the crap hits the fan are you going to be able to do it. NO, NO, NO Quit talking about it and practice it. Over and over again until you can do like your life depends on it. One day it might
I understand the Head First ladder slide is very controversial and popular however, I like the hook two grab four method. Some argue that you can break a shoulder or rotator cuff, I would rather do that than break my neck and die. We are teaching that we need to place the ladder at a rescue angle for safer egress however I see a major problem with that. When we throw a ladder for egress purposes, at what angle are we doing it?

Most place a ladder as we were trained in FFI andFFII, a standard steeper climbing angle, during an emergency escape proceedure, the head first ladder slide will make the slide faster , harder to control and possibly even impossible if placed at a steep angle due to very tight exposures like in row houses, garden apartments etc.

I agree, it is all about training and doing it safely however, in a real situation, the ladders are placed at climbing angles and not at rescue angles. If we are teaching this head first slide, we must re-train all Firefighters to throw the their ladders at the rescue angles not at the steeper ones!

I would rather teach the hook two grab four and turn around on the ladder then beam slide down, this can be done at any ladder angle!

Food for thought... This is my opinion.
bailout trainng is fine and unfortunately a part of the job when something goes wrong, but doesn't someone out there think we should put more emphasis on training ff's to recognize signs of rapid fire development so that bailouts are not necessary or at least are a less common occurrence. Let's face it. When someone has to bail out, it represents a failure of the firegroound management and size-up system at EVERY LEVEL. This is totally unacceptable.
We are killing way too many guys during common operations. We are not enforcing safety pratices and disciplined operations as we should. Look at pictures in the forum portion and see how many FF's (Chiefs included!) are not properly wearing gear. If that is not an indication that something is wrong with the leadership of the dept, we are blind. If your personnel can't get something as simple as staying where they are supposed to stay and doing what thye were assigned to do and/or wearing their gear properly, how can they be trusted with more complex responsibilities
Keep track of your firefighters -- enforce operational discipline at all times
Enforce company integrity
Have zero tolerance on freelancing
Ensure personnel wear their gear properly
Never miss an opportunity to train someone when they are doing it wrong and most importantly
To be aware is to be alive
To be unaware might result in the need to bail out
stay safe out there
You are a 100% right firefighters need to be trained from prevention to intervention. We keep seeing firefighters bail out because in most cases we fail to control the building. Searching without a line has different tactics then moving with a line. If we take a look when firefighters get pushed out we will find in most cases when they entered the room they failed to close the door. Yes is in living rooms and dining room there is no way to control the door and you may have to bail. A bail out kit places a ladder at every window, but with proper tactics we can avoid using one. In most case the firefighter goes right by the door to the window without a second thought to close it.

Changing the way we search: if you have a line chock the door open, if you do not when you enter a bedroom close the door. This accomplishes several things you have a choice for both of you to split up and search the room or the method I prefer is to have the firefighter with the TIC stay just inside the door as a point of reference and then guide the other rescuer. Now when you vent you are venting for life the visibility will clear right up when you clear the window. You will drastically lower the CO HCN and other products of combustion. You also have had no impact on the fire, if the engine losses water or something goes wrong you are already in an area of refuge, yes if the fire burns thru the floor your still jammed up but with a TIC you should not be surprised. I have found the most likely reason to bail is the heat and fire coming into the room.

Now that the room is searched control the door and open it, if it appears that they are getting water on the fire and all is well chock the door open to aid in ventilation, now you are venting for fire. Move to the next room and repeat. If we train firefighters to search like this they will be more in tuned to close doors when they get jammed up. I have been teaching this method for years and have received a lot of positive feedback. My department uses this type of search; it is safe, efficient and effective. This is the first year we will be covering this and other tactics at FDIC on Friday Tactical Considerations of Search
Hello Anthony,
I agree 100% that we should work on recognition and awareness. Unfortunately, the fireground is a dynamic, changing environment, and even the best trained and experienced firefighter/officer can find themselves in trouble. We have examples for this even when you are doing things right. I advocate "teaching" these emergency skill for use only as a last resort! But if you never even practice with it, what success are you likely to have? If that Last Resort happens to you, some level of competence will help perform the tactic correctly and safely. As Darren Sluder mentions, other issues are necessary to have a successful Forcible Exitiing of a building. A RIT team should be charged with ladder placement for this need. Ladders can always be re-positioned for whatever task they will be used for. But if the ladder isn't there pro-actively, That is another issue altogether.
No mention has been made about the rope slide. We have personal ropes and Biners to make quick connections to anchors within an occupancy. This is also a "Last Resort" tactic for self-rescue, not a first choice to leave the building. Size-up, 2nd exits, and Breach walls, hang and drop, and follow the line are all preferred methods.
Stil I feel that if not "practicing" the dangerous tactics, the firefighters are not as well prepared to survive as they can be.
Thanks for your input,
practicing is a necessity
i agree wholeheartedly
we have bailout systems and are getting new ones installed in our new turnouts
still, we have to look at the root causes if we want to prevent them. we cannot ignore them
a bailout prevented or a Mayday prevented makes everyone on the fireground safer
just take a look at you tube and see all the unsafe stuff goiing on out there
there are also alot more good things than bad, but we cannot ignore why we get our people and ourselves in these sits. there is always a root cause for a bailout andf it usually a guy who is not paying attention or someone who got complacent. -- not always but most of the time
once the first domino of unsafe attitude and actions begins to fall, it is hard to stop the rest of them from falling
just my opinion
stay safe
I like your Two Pronged explanation Dave. It is exactly what I was trying to say. Train for "Routine" (ya I know), incidents and prepare for times when things go wrong! The "What if" scenarios are what can make a difference for our guys.
Send me your surface mailing address and I'll send you a copy of the training handout I prepared for a HOT session on ladder bail out during the Spanish firefighters congress some years back. Although it is printed in Spanish, I'm confident that you will get the message. Basically, the training session wound around the "last ditch" or "Plan C" that calls for this escape option. As you say, in the training the need for belay line is fundamental, at least two, but in a real fire situation, you won't have any safety lines, so practice is essential. I developed the course based on several FIRE ENGINEERING articles, and the survival of a good friend when he had to bail out of a second floor fire that cut off all other exits. Ladder bailout is useful and can well mean the difference between survival or not.
Send your data to:
Hoping to hear from you soon.
George Potter
Madrid, Spain
Look at training as a two way street, as you go along you encounter new and at times difficult obstacles, but the knowledge you acquire along the way prepares you to face and surmount these obstacles.

There is another very strong argument for training. Here in Spain, the unions have made great inroads into the fire services, to the point where they have influenced nearly every facit of tthe profession. One of their favorite hedges is that the four (and at times five) day off duty tours are precious hours that the boys have earned in order to rest, spend time with their loved ones, hone up on their favorite sport abilities, earn extra income doing odd (or not) work (carpintry, electricians, plumbing, selling fire extinguishers, etc., income not subject to income taxes), but not participating in training sessions that cover several consecutive days, necesitating that they sacrifice their precious off duty time. More often than not, they get away with the excuses.
Now, lts look at a training program that requires attendance during several days. The enlightened union reps insist that the training be held during duty hours. This is fine for a small municipal FD that has few daily runs, but not really practical for Engine 23 of FDNY, so the majority of the troops negate the course and time goes on as usual. Some time later, an emergency situation requires to correct use of the equipment of that suspended training course, and because a couple of the responding crew did not know how to use that equipment, for not having participated in the course, a victim dies, and the ensuing investigation determines that the life could have been saved. Who'se heads would (or should) roll?
Training, learning, perfecting, improving, etc., etc., etc., be it voluntary or obliged participation, is the only way to keep our edge.
George Potter
Yes you do have to train. I agree whole-heartedly. Only you need to do it as safe as possible. I've been at drills involving the head first bail-out and safety was not initially evident. It was being done each time out of the firehouse second floor window, down a 24' extension ladder. One time they had no safety line w/belay ready. This has since been addressed.

It might be a good idea to build a simulator out of an out of service ladder, and window mock up just a few feet off the ground to initially instruct firefighters the proper exit techniques and manuevers prior to being 20 some odd feet above the concrete. We all know gravity sucks...and concrete will leave a mark.
Eloquently said Art,
My point exactly

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