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Posts tagged ‘ladders’

A to Z: L is for Ladders


I think everyone knows what a ladder is, right?(In my “outline” for this post, I put definition here, but really?)

An extension ladder on the side of one of our trucks. Photo taken by me.

An extension ladder on the side of one of our trucks. Photo taken by me.

I talked about different kinds of ground ladders last week, but those aren’t the only ladders used.

Taken by me

Taken by me

Taken by me.

Taken by me.

This is an aerial truck(also referred to as a ladder truck). It has an attached ladder that can reach greater heights than just an extension ladder. There are more than one type of aerial truck, of course. There’s a turntable aerial, so named because it’s mounted on a turntable on the back of the truck. This allows it to pivot on a stable base and being a telescopic ladder, allows it greater height. The key functions of these ladders are being able to allow access to(and retreat from) a building at a greater height, providing a high-level water point for firefighting, and a platform from where ventilation and overhaul(more on that Friday) can be done.

There is also the tiller truck, which is a more specialized version of the turntable ladder. It is mounted on semi truck. But, the two parts(tractor & trailer) can’t be separated without special tools and have separate steering wheels for the front and back. It does have increased maneuverability, since both ends are steered separately, which allows it to be steered better through narrow streets.

The other type is the aerial platform, which have a bucket or basket attached to the top of the ladder. These can be used for rescues and to allow a secure place for a firefighter to operate.

There are also Quints(which I’ll talk more about next week), which combine the functions of trucks and engines.


A to Z: G is for Ground Ladder


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.

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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.

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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.

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