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Chapter 14. Ladders. Introduction. Ladders provide access to elevated or below-grade locations Truss-type beams have replaced solid wood beams High-strength aluminum replaced wood New design technology continued to meet ladder needs Ladders can be used for many purposes. Ladder Terminology.

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  • Ladders provide access to elevated or below-grade locations
  • Truss-type beams have replaced solid wood beams
  • High-strength aluminum replaced wood
  • New design technology continued to meet ladder needs
  • Ladders can be used for many purposes
ladder terminology
Ladder Terminology
  • Defined as:
    • “A structure consisting of two long sides crossed by parallel rungs, used to climb up and down”
    • “A means of ascent and descent”
  • Many different types of ladders
parts of a ladder
Parts of a Ladder
  • Many parts to a ladder
  • Different parts of the ladder might have multiple names
  • Common terminology usage will reduce miscommunication
  • Glossary of ladder parts on page 417




Figure 14-1 (A) Straight ladder terminology. (B) Steel spurs on a ladder of truss construction. (C) Swivel shoes with pads and spikes.

ladder companies
Ladder Companies
  • Apparatus that carry ladders, devices, tools, and personnel to upper levels
  • Tower ladders and boom ladders are included in this category
  • Ladder companies are also responsible for tasks associated with entry
grounded or portable ladders
Grounded (or Portable) Ladders
  • Complement of ground ladders, sometimes called portable ladders
  • Common types:
    • Straight
    • Extension
    • Various specialized ladders
straight ladder
Straight Ladder
  • Also referred to as wall ladder
  • Fixed length ladder
  • Found in lengths between 12 and 20 feet
  • Generally light
  • Departments without ladder companies carry ladders on pumping engines
extension ladder
Extension Ladder
  • Consists of two or more ladders
  • Bed ladder acts as a nest
  • Fly ladder is movable and slides in channels
  • Halyard – rope used to extend ladder
  • Each section locked into place
roof or hook ladder
Roof or Hook Ladder
  • A straight wall ladder with set of retractable hooks at the tip end
  • Used on a sloped roof
  • Can be used as a standard straight wall ladder
  • Not designed to be used as a hanging ladder
folding ladder
Folding Ladder
  • Known by many names
  • Available in lengths from 8 to 16 feet
  • Provide access to attic spaces
  • Very portable
  • Used to remove occupants from elevator car



Figure 14-7 Folding ladder (also called a suitcase or attic ladder). (A) Folded. (B) Opened.

a frame combination ladder
A-Frame Combination Ladder
  • Combination ladder used in various configurations
  • Acts as a mini-extension ladder
  • When fully articulated and extended, can be a full fixed straight ladder
  • Can become a step ladder
  • Used in tight places



Figure 14-8 Combination A-frame ladder. (A) Used as a short extension ladder. (B) Being converted from an extension ladder to an A-frame stepladder.



Figure 14-8 (cont’d.) Combination A-frame ladder. (C) In the A-frame stepladder mode.

use and care
Use and Care
  • Care must be employed to prevent ladder damage
  • NFPA Standard 1932 covers use, maintenance, and service testing of ground ladders
maintenance cleaning and inspection
Maintenance, Cleaning,and Inspection
  • Ladders should be inspected at regular intervals
  • Certification label must be affixed
  • Ladders needing repair are removed from service
  • Work beyond general maintenance performed by trained technicians
cleaning ladders
Cleaning Ladders
  • Dirt and caustic substances act as an abrasive
  • Warm soapy detergent and scrub brush will remove most dirt
  • Manufacturer’s recommendations should be consulted
ladder uses
Ladder Uses
  • Primarily used for climbing
  • Used for many purposes:
    • Shoring tool
    • Fence
    • Hold back loose debris
    • Chute to channel water
  • Most obvious use
  • Provides a path otherwise inaccessible
  • Can be used to descend into an opening
  • Extracting a victim
  • Use of ladders that is employed least often
salvage operations
Salvage Operations
  • Used as a tool to support salvage covers
  • Protect hoselines from falling glass
  • Hook or roof ladder
  • Provides footing for firefighters on sloped roofs
  • Can take place in two ways
    • Firefighter can use ladder to remove glass with a tool from elevated position
    • Ladder itself can be used as the tool
  • Safety must be paramount
  • Ladder can be an effective bridge between two points
  • Supports weight over a weakened floor
  • Bedded extension ladder is safest
elevated streams
Elevated Streams
  • Ground ladders are still an option to provide water from an exterior location
  • Used when no other approach to fire is available
elevated work position
Elevated Work Position
  • Serve as exterior work platform
  • Need to remove something or check for heat during overhauling
ladder selection
Ladder Selection
  • Once target is identified, ask these questions:
    • What length of ladder is necessary?
    • What will be done with the ladder?
    • Will ladder be used at several locations?
    • Is a straight or extension ladder needed?
  • Some additional considerations:
    • Ground condition
    • Accessibility of location
    • Available personnel
butt section
Butt Section
  • If ground slopes, raising a ladder might be impossible
  • 75 degrees is the proper climbing angle
  • Placed directly under the target
  • Butt should be carried in the direction of the target
fly section
Fly Section
  • Tip of fly dictates how ladder will be used
  • Several specific locations where placement of tip will be important:
    • Windows
    • Roof level
    • Fire escapes



Figure 14-9 (A) Ladder placed with the tip below the windowsill. (B) Ladder placed with the tip at the top of the windowsill to either side.

special uses
Special Uses
  • Can be used as tools or as portable stairs
  • Ladder integrity must not be compromised
removal of numerous victims
Removal of Numerous Victims
  • Method:
    • Raise ladder
    • Ascend and secure victim onto ladder
    • Descend escorting victim
  • For several victims, use two or more ladders
  • One “supply” ladder can service many escape ladders
chute with a tarp
Chute with a Tarp
  • Prevent water damage
  • Ladder with tarp used as a makeshift chute to direct water out a window

Figure 14-12 Ladder with salvage cover, plastic sheet, or tarpaulin used as a chute to divert and discharge water.

over a fence
Over a Fence
  • Two short ladders tied together in an A-frame can be used to climb over fences
  • There are times a fence cannot be cut

Figure 14-13 Ladders can be used to climb over a high fence.

elevated hose streams
Elevated Hose Streams
  • Used in locations that could not be approached conventionally
  • Basic safety practices must be employed:
    • Firefighter and hose must be secured to ladder
    • Ladder must be stabilized at base or tip

Figure 14-14 A handline can be used off a ground ladder for difficult-to-reach areas. Note the use of a ladder belt.

portable pool
Portable Pool
  • Three or four ladders can be tied together to form a crib and lined with a tarp
    • Filled with water
    • Used to capture runoff

Figure 14-15 Ladders can be turned into an emergency water pool or collection area.

  • Tied off to secure dangerous areas
  • Provides a positive visual deterrent as well as a physical mechanism to prevent passing

Figure 14-16 A ladder can be used as a barrier.

  • With ropes a ladder can secure objects as an emergency structural stabilizer
  • Should be replaced as soon as possible with tools designed for the situation

Figure 14-17 Ladder used as a shoring tool. A ladder secured to substantial objects by ropes can assist in stabilizing a structural defect as an emergency measure.

hoist point
Hoist Point
  • Set of ladders tied off at tip and at base into an A-frame
  • Pulley and rope are attached to apex
  • Ladder weight limits should not be exceeded

Figure 14-18 A-frame hoist.

ventilation fan supports
Ventilation Fan Supports
  • Short ladder spanning an opening can support a ventilation fan or blower
  • Innovation must be tempered with safety

Figure 14-19 A ladder can be used to support a fan in a doorway.

  • Equated with common sense
  • Use gloves
  • Use correct ladder
  • Overhead wires must be considered “live”
  • When moving on a ladder, firefighter should keep three limbs in contact
overhead obstructions
Overhead Obstructions
  • Carry injury potential:
    • Tree limbs, structural overhangs
    • Television and telephone wires
    • Overhead electrical lines

Figure 14-20 A ladder can make an electrical connection to ground.

climbing path
Climbing Path
  • Imaginary passageway a firefighter climbs through while ascending ladder
  • Obstructed climbing paths:
    • Firefighter is required to alter normal climbing angle
    • Squeeze through a tight space
  • Breathing apparatus must be considered when estimating space
ground considerations
Ground Considerations
  • Ladder must be stable, ground must be level
  • Cannot create a dangerous lateral lean

Figure 14-22 Uneven ground effect is magnified as the ladder increases in height.

ladder load
Ladder Load
  • Number of people permitted on ladder at one time will vary
  • Load capacity based on weight
  • Recommended maximum load found on label affixed to ladder
working off a ladder
Working Off a Ladder
  • Firefighter secured to ladder
    • Ladder belts
    • Safety harness
    • Leg lock

Figure 14-25 Leg lock.

ladder storage
Ladder Storage
  • Supported by more than two support points
  • Should be stored on a flat surface
  • Avoid using the same contact points when storing ladder
apparatus ladder storage
Apparatus Ladder Storage
  • Should be stored under cover in compartments
  • De-icing products on ladders during inclement weather
ladder apparatus parking
Ladder Apparatus Parking
  • Place ladder apparatus at an angle to the fire building
  • Ladders need to be easily accessible and removed



Figure 14-27 (A) It is important to leave room to remove portable ground ladders. (B) Parking apparatus can impede ladder access: parking on an angle can be a simple solution.

ladder painting
Ladder Painting
  • Should never be painted as a means of maintenance
  • Only small areas should be painted:
    • Identification
    • Visibility
    • Quick reference
    • Hoist points
certification and testing procedures
Certification andTesting Procedures
  • NFPA Standard 1931 outlines specific procedures for ladder testing and certification
  • When ladder model is designed, rigid testing is needed
  • Ladder label attests that ladder is in compliance with NFPA and OSHA guidelines
ladder skills
Ladder Skills
  • Without common terminology and technique, the moving and positioning of ladders can be chaotic
  • Commands should be established by local department policy
  • Basic commands relying on common sense should be the norm
carrying ladders
Carrying Ladders
  • Several techniques used for carrying ladders:
    • Suitcase carry
    • Shoulder carry
    • Flat carry
  • Single firefighter can carry a small ladder individually
  • Many types of techniques used when dealing with a victim on a ladder
raising ladders
Raising Ladders
  • Several considerations must be weighed:
    • Heel of ladder must be a calculated distance from building
    • Ideally, climbing angle should be about 75 degrees
  • Number of firefighters needed to raise a ladder will vary
  • Most situations call for two firefighters

Figure 14-29 The working length is the distance from the ground to the point where the ladder contacts the building. The ladder is placed at a point approximately one-quarter of the working length from the building.

rung and beam raises
Rung and Beam Raises
  • Two methods of raising a ladder:
    • Two-person rung raise
    • Two-person beam raise
  • Raising an extension ladder:
    • Fly extension raise
    • Three-person raise
  • Four-person ladder raise safer than three-person raise
    • One firefighter should never bring down a ladder



Figure 14-30 (A) Beam raise. (B) Rung raise.

leg lock
Leg Lock
  • Used to secure firefighter to ladder
  • Both hands are needed to perform a task
  • Ladder belt is not available
  • Second alternate leg lock known as hyper-extended leg lock
carrying tools
Carrying Tools
  • When carrying tools, security is sacrificed
  • Tools should be passed up to another firefighter first
  • Tools can be hung on an upper rung and climbed to
  • Tools can ride up the rails of an aerial ladder
mounting and dismounting
Mounting and Dismounting
  • Getting on and off a ladder is the most difficult action for the uninitiated
    • As height increases so does fear of falling
    • If ladder is not secured by rope, it should be heeled by another firefighter
    • When climbing into a window from a ladder, two methods are used
    • Special care should be observed when mounting or dismounting ladder from ornamental works
roof and ladder deployment
Roof and Ladder Deployment
  • Raised to the eave of the roof directly under desired access point
  • Hook ladder is raised alongside pre-positioned ladder using beam-raise method
hoisting ladders by rope
Hoisting Ladders by Rope
  • Need to use ladder from elevated location might arise
    • Hoisting ladder by rope
  • When lowering ladder, procedure is reversed
types of truck mounted ladders
Types of Truck-Mounted Ladders
  • Many types of ladder trucks are used today
  • Each designed to serve a particular function
aerial ladder
Aerial Ladder
  • Apparatus-mounted ladder capable of reaching heights of 100 feet
  • Various sections slide out from one another to produce greater reach
  • Ladder’s reach achieved through use of cables and pulleys
tower ladder
Tower Ladder
  • Standard piece of equipment in moderate to large departments
  • Telescopic boom with mounted basket
  • Affords people who suffer from a fear of heights
  • Takes slightly longer to place into operation
articulating boom ladder
Articulating Boom Ladder
  • Also called snorkel ladder
  • Among the first designs for elevated platform use
  • Uses several articulating booms
  • Can also be used as an elevated water application platform or observation point
lessons learned
Lessons Learned
  • Ladders have many applications
  • Different types of ladders are designed for a specific use
  • Ladder use is packed with additional dangers that each firefighter must respect