Ground ladders provide safe access(and retreat) for firefighters during rescue, ventilation, and firefighting tasks. They can also be used for bridging, ladder drain, and portable sump among other things. Sometimes a department may have an aerial truck(more on this next week), but those ladders may not always be able to access the appropriate structure.
There are three main types of ground ladders: extension, roof, and attic ladders. These all have the same basic components. The extension ladders fully extends to 24 1/2 feet. It has a maximum reach of 23 1/2 feet. These weigh around 72 pounds and are rated at a 750 pound working load.
Roof ladders are just over 14 feet long made of an aluminum solid beam construction, but weigh less than 30 pounds. These are also rated at a 750 pound working load and have 3/4 inch roof hooks, that are tested to 2000 pounds. These are used in conjunction with an extension ladder. Set the butt of the ladder against the heels of the extension ladder, walk the roof ladder to vertical position(with open hooks away from user), take the ladder to roof’s edge, and slide the ladder over roof on the hooks and secure ladder to the roof.
The attic ladder is just over 10 feet when opened and 11 when closed. It’s made of hinged beam construction and weighs just 16 pounds. It has six total rungs with swivel footpads and only has a working load rating of 300 pounds.
These ladders can be carried either by one or two men and by a high shoulder, low shoulder, or suitcase carry.
Ladders should be spotted three feet away, an extension raised if necessary, then adjusted for the proper climbing angle, about 75 degrees. For roof access, a ladder should be placed with 3-5 rungs above the roofline. For non-rescue operations, it should be set to the side of the window with either one rung above the sill or just under the sill. For a rescue operation, you want it directly under the sill at a 60 degree angle. For breaking windows(a ventilation operation), you’d want it adjacent to the top of the window opening.
Another consideration to keep in mind is that ladders shouldn’t be placed within 1o feet of power lines. When working off the ladder, you’d want to use the opposite leg of the side you’re working from to lock yourself to the ladder. When passing on a ladder, the person going by passes on the left. The person staying on the ladder would lock in on the right.