ROOF VENTILATION: QUICKIE RIDGE VENT CUT

IF THE ROOF HAS A RIDGE VENT, YOU CAN USE THE QUICKIE RIDGE VENT CUT, WHICH MAKES ROOF OPERATIONS SAFER AND QUICKER.

BY KAI W. RIEGER

There are dozens of different ways to vertically ventilate a structure; however, certain cutting sequences can make the job of opening the roof easier and faster. The Quickie Ridge Vent Cut is one of them.

The presence of lightweight truss construction dictates that companies operate differently on the roof. For a room and contents fire, it is important to get up on the roof early to start vertical ventilation before the fire enters the attic space/truss loft. We need a method for quickly cutting a vertical ventilation hole so that the crew’s time on the roof will be limited. If the fire is already in the attic space, it is unsafe to operate on the roof, and you must cut from the safety of an aerial or tower ladder basket.

Visually check to see if the roof has a ridge vent, or “vent-a-ridge.” This may be constructed of plastic or tin and may be placed directly on the ridge, but it may have a layer of asphalt shingles (caps) or other coordinating roof covering over the top of the vent. In either case, if the roof has a ridge vent, you can use the Quickie Ridge Vent Cut, which makes roof operations safer and quicker.


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When operating on roofs that are too steep to walk on, the use of a roof ladder is recommended. Take care, however, if you suspect the roof is of truss construction. The hooks of the ladder, which bite into the ridge pole area on a conventional roof, will only be hooked onto the roof deck on a truss roof. It is preferable to perform all operations on truss roofs from a tower ladder bucket or an aerial ladder. If these options are not available, make sure you perform roof ventilation before the fire actually involves the truss loft. Ladder the roof prior to fire extension into the attic. Make any necessary ventilation holes and then abandon the roof.

Quickie Ridge Vent Cut: Sequence

1. Remove the ridge vent. It is easy to remove; it is held in place by galvanized roofing nails, spaced about one foot apart running on each side, and a top layer of shingles. This vent is no match for the upward pulling force of your tool.

Expose the position of the rafters or trusses. Since you can see the trusses or rafters, you don’t have to waste precious time trying to “sound” the rafters.

2. Count three trusses away from your roof ladder, and make a cut just inside of the third truss. Start the cut in the exposed ridge; cut down at least four feet.


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(1) The exposed ridge vent space after removal of the ridge vent (bottom right of photo). The trusses or rafters are readily visible. The firefighter is completing the second cut for the Quickie Ridge Vent Cut. By using the shingle tabs as guides, he avoids drifting the cut right or left. (Photos by author.) (2) Insert your hook in the open ridge vent space at the top, and pull up the roof covering. After the nails pull out, it will automatically hinge at the bottom sheathing seam. If you need a longer hole, lengthen the two cuts already made.

3. On the away side of the first truss, make a cut that extends down at least four feet, as in step 2.

Opening the ridge vent already made the top cut parallel to the ridge. The bottom cut parallel to the ridge is also completed. When contractors install roof sheathing, they start from the bottom edge of the roof and work up to the ridge. The seams of the installed sheathing are between zero and four feet from the ridge. Consequently, both horizontal cuts on the roof are already pres-ent.

4. Pull the roof covering at the ridge opening. The covering is held down by one to six roofing nails. This is a fairly easy pull. The covering will separate from the roof at the sheathing seam on the lower edge.

This opening will be approximately four feet wide by up to four feet in length, if the trusses have the usual two-foot spacing. If the seam is several inches from the ridge, try a couple of more pulls between the remaining cuts. The seam might be dry or rotted and pull right up. If not, extend the two long cuts the length of the seam you just pulled. Example: If you pulled a covering that is only eight inches long, extend each original cut by eight inches, and pull another roof covering that is now four feet long.

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5. Push down the ceiling below and any insulation you encounter. If the hole is not large enough, and conditions permit, simply repeat the same procedure on the other side of the ladder.

Since you are making the two cuts in line with the trusses, you don’t need to go slowly for fear of not feeling or sawing through a truss. Use the shingle tabs as guides. A well-trained team can perform the Quickie Ridge Vent Cut and drop the ceiling in less than two minutes.


KAI W. RIEGER, a 12-year veteran of the fire service, is a career firefighter/paramedic with the Jackson Township Fire Department in Canton, Ohio. He is a fire instructor at Stark State College in Canton, Ohio, and at Buckeye Career Center in New Philadelphia, Ohio; a hazardous materials technician; and an assistant control officer for the Stark County Hazardous Materials and Confined Space Response Team. He has a bachelor’s degree in management and an associate’s degree in fire science.

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