Fire Service Ladders and Their Use—Part XX

Fire Service Ladders and Their Use—Part XX

Ladder Evolutions, Using Long Extension Ladders, Three Men

Editor’s Note: This is the sixth Chapter dealing with ladder evolutions. The previous five Parts were as follows: Part XV (August, 1951): Removal of ladders from apparatus; their handling and climbing. Two and four men carries were pictured; Part XVI (September, 1951): One-man raise using short extension ladder; Part XVII (October, 1951): Two-men operations, using short extension ladder; Part XVIII (November, 1951): Two men flat raise, using wall ladder; Part XIX (December, 1951): Four men operation, using long extension ladder.

This chapter covers much the same operations as those of last month (Part XIX) except that three instead of four men comprise the crew. As pointed out in the preceding Chapter, the term “long extension ladders” means any ladder between 24 foot and the longest extension ladder without poles—the limit usually being 35 feet. Any extension ladder exceeding that length should have poles, or tormentors.

LAST month’s Chapter of this series described the removal and raising of a “long” extension ladder, using a four man crew. The operational procedure would be the same for any type of nonpole long extension ladder made today. The handling and raising of pole ladders will be the subject of a later Chapter.

Although the four-man crew is preferable for fast, safe operations involving the handling and raising of long extension ladders, there invariably comes a time in the average fire department where that much-to-be-desired crew is not immediately available and where, in the interests of rescue or fire attack, a smaller crew must perform the operations.

For this reason it is advisable to describe and picture what is considered the most acceptable methods of performing the same operations shown in last month’s four-man operations, but using the three-man crew, instead of the four.

For the purposes of this installment, both the wood and light metal type ladders are illustrated. It is hardly necessary to point out that one method of carry may be better for operating with one type of ladder than another. Where students of ladder practices have the opportunity to perform comparative evolutions, it is easy to determine for themselves the more practical and efficient methods for carrying and raising each type.

The initial steps of removing the long extension ladder from the truck are similar to those already described where the four-man crew is used, the only exception being that the three-man crew is distributed about evenly along the rails (beams) of the ladder when removing it from the apparatus.

In this operation, some instructors prefer to have the men all face away from the truck (toward the line of travel they must take) and thereby do away with the need of pivoting under the ladder to reverse direction. Some also prefer to have the three-man crew immediately assume a “beam” carry whereby one rail rests on the shoulders of the crew as described later in this installment. Others prefer to have the men let the ladder drop to the under-arm carry as soon as it is clear of the body of the apparatus. Still others, where the ladder in question is aluminum, and bedded low in the apparatus, find it expedient to carry the ladder about as shown in the two-man carry in Fig. 1 of Part XV (August, 1951, Page 633). From this position the ladder can be laid flat on the ground or shifted easily to the underarm carry.

With the under-arm carry evolution, where the ladder is to be picked up from the ground, the three-man crew takes position about equal distance along the ladder, all on the same side as indicated in Fig. 1. In this illustration the men are all shown on the left. The end men are stationed at the second rung, the third man at a center rung. This brings the normally strongest arm, the right, into use. Note the legs are bent so as to be able to take as much of the strain of the lift as possible. The hands are placed in the center of the rungs with the palms forward.

At the command “lift,” the three pick up the ladder, or rather, come erect with it, the near beam swinging up under the arms of the crew, as noted in Fig. 2. No attempt is made to snug the ladder up under the armpits. However, the grip on the rungs should be such that the carry brings the lower rail at knee level, or slightly above. Too high a carry can cut off the circulation of the carrying arm. Too low a carry can cramp the wrist, and permit the lower beam to swing in against the legs.

In the position pictured (Fig. 2) the lead man is in position to protect the heels or butts of the ladder or to ward off obstacles with his free arm. This carry may be found less convenient than the shoulder carry when the ladder to be used is the heavier, wood type.

Shoulder Carry

The first step in the shoulder carry, using metal ladders, is similar to the pickup for the under-arm carry. The three men of the crew, however, face in the opposite direction to the line of travel. The end men grasp the second rungs from the butt and tip; the center man grasps the middle rung. Palms of hands are forward. Rungs are gripped at about the center as shown in Fig. 3.

At the command, all men lift, swinging the rail of the ladder that is away from them, upward, at the same time pivoting and passing the free arm through the ladder as it is shifted to the shoulder, as shown in Fig. 4. In actual practice, the pivoting is almost simultaneous with stepping out with the carry. The completion of this evolution is shown in Fig. 5, where the arm that has been put through the ladder is brought up so that the hand may grip the rail. It will be noted that this carry leaves the forward man with an arm free to ward off obstacles and guard against the butt striking anything. Although of course not essential, this operation, like most carries, is greatly facilitated if men can keep step.

Three-Man Carry, Wood Ladder

In both the shoulder and the underarm carry of the heavier, wood extension ladders, the three-man crew does not pivot. To facilitate the pickup for both these carries, using the wood extension ladder, it is rested on the ground, supported on one beam.

For the shoulder carry, the three men grasp rungs with both hands: the end men, the second and third rungs; the center man, the two rungs at about the middle of the ladder. The legs should be bent slightly so that they may take most of the strain of the lift as the ladder is swung up (Fig 6).

At the command, all men lift, and as the ladder comes up, the arm with hand grasping the rearmost rung is carried through between the rungs, as the ladder is shifted to the shoulder. This shift is coincident with the slight turn the men make to bring them facing the line of travel, as shown in Fig. 7. The extent to which men must shift or turn in this evolution will depend upon their position in the pick-up. The more they face toward the ladder, or to the rear, the greater must the turn be. It is not a full pivot, however.

For the side or under-arm carry, the ladder is also rested on one beam, with the men spaced along its length as in the preceeding lift, facing the direction of travel, with knees bent, one leg slightly ahead of the other, as shown in Fig. 8. One arm and hand are supported on the bent knee; the other is stretched over the ladder so that the hand grasps the rung close to the rail that is on the ground. Palms are toward the front.

On command, the men lift in unison, pushing upward with legs, and with the arm supported on the knee. The balance of the operation is similar to the carry previously described.

Three-Man Raise

The procedure of raising the long extension ladder, both metal and wood, are very similar to that of the four-man raise of such ladders. The main difference is that, in the three-man operation, a single man heels or butts the ladder, whereas in the four-man method, two men are on the butt.

This operation is pictured in Figs. 9 and 10. In Fig. 11 the men are shown in position to raise the ladder. The heel or butt man has his feet on the beams with hands on the second rung. The beam men grasp the third rung close to their side of the rails, with palms to the rear.

On command, the beam men lift while the butt man sways backward, keeping his feet on the beams. As the beam men raise the ladder, they pivot under it, to about face (Fig 10), after which, without pause, they push upward on the rails, as shown in Fig. 12.

The evolution of raising the wood extension ladder is almost identical with that for the metal ladder raise. Men face forward, grasp the third rung with palms to rear, while the butt man keeps both feet on the heel, while grasping the second rung.

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Fire Service Ladders

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In the illustration of this evolution (Fig. 11), the fly section is shown on top of the main section. The same procedure would be followed were the fly below the main section. In either case, after the ladder is elevated perpendicularly, it must be shifted or pivoted, to bring its beams parallel to the building against which it will be set.

Fig. 12 shows men raising the trussed wood ladder, with butt man leaning far back, keeping his heels on the beams. Men push up with hands on beams, not rungs, arms held as straight as possible.

Once the ladder is erect, it is ready to be pivoted so that the fly will be either on the outside, away from the building, or inside—under the main section, to be toward the building.

In the two illustrations, Figs. 13 and 14, the ladder is shown being pivoted. Fig. 13 shows pivoting to bring the fly toward the building, or on the inside, while Fig. 14 shows pivoting to bring the fly outside, or away from the building.

Note that one man heels the ladder, placing one foot on the lowest rung, close against the grounded beam (the one upon which the ladder is being pivoted). One man supports the ladder with both hands on the beam. The other two steady the ladder by it rungs with arms at about on a level with or slightly above the shoulders.

Many instructors prefer to have at least one of the crew watch the top of the ladder during this operation to detect sway. In the Figs. 13 and 14, it will be noted none of the crew are doing so.

After the ladder is pivoted, the fly is elevated as desired, the ladder then set into position and the halyard secured, as previously described in this series.

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