Ladders used in the fire service are widely recognized as a versatile firefighting tool. Historically, the key use of the ladder was to assist firefighters with the task of gaining access to elevated areas of structures and provide rescue of trapped occupants from windows or balconies. With advances in technology, new designs and materials, today’s fire service ladder is stronger, lighter, offers more flexibility, and is called on for a variety of diverse emergency tasks.
Although, ladders have not been changed for 25 years when the transition was made from wooden ladders to aluminum versions, it is still important for firefighters to practice techniques and have continued hands-on experience with equipment, Stations 4, 10, 15, and 16 joined forces on Tuesday, July 20, 2010 to practice specific exercises with 35-foot and 45-foot extension ladders. Extension ladders are adjustable in length, use a rope (halyard) and pulley system for extension and retraction, and are placed in operation by two or more firefighters. Extension ladders are carried on all Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) aerial apparatus.
During the drill, which took place on buildings donated by Portland State University (see previous blog), each firefighter worked in teams to practice safely and quickly raising (extend) and lowering the top section of the 35 and the 45-foot extension ladders. Firefighters rarely get the opportunity to use these ladders, especially the 45-foot extension ladder that weighs over 200 pounds, and requires four firefighters to handle. This ladder is the only ground ladder that can reach a forth floor window or third floor roof. It takes an extreme amount of coordination to safely place this ladder, poles of either side help raise and steady the ladder, even with practice it takes a great deal of concentration. Teams were able to practice climbing both ladders, positioning them on different areas of the building, and discuss team work techniques to help them safety and efficiently be able to put the ladders up in case of an emergency.
In training, the standard time for placing the 35-foot ladder with a three person team is one minute. While the 45-foot ladder with four people is two minutes. It takes a great deal of practice before recruits can meet the time standards. During training, trainees will perform hundreds of ladder raises in order to be best prepared for a variety of emergency situations.
Drills such as these help PF&R firefighters maintain skills, enabling them to respond in a variety of emergencies.
Portland Fire & Rescue We Respond: Always Ready, Always There
July 26, 2010