Drills, Firefighting

Throw Back to Basics: Roof Ladders

By Brian Zaitz

The roof ladder is one of the most versatile and basic of all ground ladders. Commonly found in 14- and 16-foot lengths, this single section ladder can be deployed easily by one firefighter for rescue or access to elevated surfaces.


The roof ladder is normally a one-firefighter operation; this makes it an optimal choice for the short-staffed company—a situation many of us face in today’s fire service.

To begin, shoulder the ladder, the balance points should already be marked so as to provide immediate location for grabbing the ladder. Once shouldered, carry the ladder to desired location and prepared for the raise. Again, because of the lightweight nature of this ladder and its single section, this ladder can be “placed” where needed. However, it is important to practice proper technique.



Take the butt of the ladder and place it below your target and against the building, this provides an anchor to raise against. To raise, walk your way down the ladder using the rungs to get closer to the building. Once the ladder is vertically flat against the building, pull out the butt/feet and position it for the appropriate climbing angle. The ladder is now ready for use or in a position of use on the appropriate side if conditions dictate.

REALTED: Norwood on Throwing Ground LaddersCiampo on Portable LaddersLewis on Throwing Multiple Ladders

Ground ladders are essential tools in the firefighter arsenal. The proficient and sound use of these tools will only come with routine practice and fireground experience. Take the time to deploy some ground ladders and see how far you can reach.


Download this training bulletin as a PDF HERE (3.5 MB).


Brian Zaitz is a 14-year student of the fire service, currently assigned as the captain/training officer with the Metro West (MO) Fire Protection District. Brian is an instructor with Engine House Training, LLC as well as instructor at the St. Louis County Fire Academy.  Brian holds several degrees, including an associates in paramedic technology, a bachelors in fire science management, and a masters in human resource development. Brian is currently and accredited chief training officer and student of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program.