Right-Angle Raise For Pole Ladder
The Volunteers Corner
Raising a pole ladder is complicated by the two things that are intended to make the job safer and easier—the poles.
Sometimes called tormentors, the poles can be a torment to a ladder crew that does not understand how the manipulation of poles can maintain the safety of a ladder raise despite sloping terrain.
Right-angle raise: The easiest way to raise a pole ladder (or any other ladder) is at right angles to the building. The ladder is placed on the ground with the heel toward the building at the spot where it should be after the raise is completed.
The heel man releases and lifts the poles so that the two beam men can continue to lift them and pass them over to the pole men, making almost a 180-degree arc. The ladder is then rolled over on a beam so that the climbing side is down.
The heel man steps on the bottom rung with his heels against it and his hands on the third set of rungs. His fingers should be together and extended over all rungs (two or three for two or three-section ladders) so that his fingers will not be caught between rungs if the fly (or flies) shifts. His legs should be as straight as possible to get his weight out from the heel. If two men are on the heel, then each places his inside foot on the bottom rung and his outside foot on a beam just above the spur tip.
Walking the beams: The beam men face the ladder tip, squat with backs straight and lift by grasping the third or fourth rung from the tip in the same way the heel man grasps the rungs. As the ladder reaches shoulder height, they swing under the beams and continue raising the ladder by walking under the beams with their arms straight to bear the weight with less muscle strain.
As the beam men lift the ladder, the pole men begin to push forward. Each man should be on the outside of the pole with the spike behind his body. The hand grasping the end of the pole should let the spike pass between the first and second fingers. Both of these details are to reduce the possibility of injury if the ladder gets out of control.
If the heel is on level ground, the poles should be kept parallel and in line with the beams. On uneven ground, the pole men should be four or five feet apart. The tip will begin to shift as it rises, and it is the job of the pole men to compensate for this. One pole man may have to move out more than the other to curb the tendency of the tip to shift.
Tripod position: When the ladder is vertical, one pole man remains in line with his beam while his partner takes a position at right angles to him. This creates a tripod that stabilizes the ladder. In a right-angle raise, it doesn’t matter which pole man moves, but sometimes obstructions determine which man must move.
The heel man and a beam man, facing each other, stabilize the ladder by placing their right feet on the bottom rung and their hands on the beams at slightly above the level of their heads. The other beam man then unties the halyard and raises the flies.
Once the dogs are engaged, the pole man near the building moves to a position parallel to the other pole man. One beam man now becomes the heel man. The other beam man assists the original heel man, who now becomes a beam man, in lowering the ladder to the building. The pole men hold back on the poles to ease the weight on the beam men and to maintain a slow, controlled movement of the ladder toward the building. When the ladder is resting on the building, any adjustment in the position of the heel can now be made by having the beam men lift and shift the heel by grasping the ladder by a rung in one hand and a beam in the other. The pole men steady the tip during this adjustment.
When the ladder position is satisfactory, the pole men set the ends of the poles against the base of the building. The loose halyard end is doubled and wrapped around three rungs near the ground and tied with a couple of half hitches around the single part of the halyard.
To take the ladder down, begin with the last step and work in reverse order successively to the first step in raising.