I was talking to one of our Probies the other day, and he asked me about Pompier Ladders. I told him that in 14 years, I've never seen one except in pictures. In fact, I'm certain that no F.D. in the Chicagoland area owns one of these! Are there any Fire Departments out there that actually use Pompier Ladders? Thanks in advance!
Hey Brian, The only time I ever saw one was from a fire chiefs handbook from the 1920's. old technology? and certainly not OSHA approved. could be wrong on this one. one of the guys from an older eastern department would have a better handle on this. they've got lots of tradition and old stuff lying around compared to the departments that have only been around for 100 years now... ms
History: What is a Pompier ladder?
The "pompier ladder" (pronounced pom-peer) is probably named for French firefighters known as "Pompier" (pronounced pom-pee-yay). It is reported as "invented" by a St. Louis Lieutenant named Chris Hoell. In some fire departments it was also known as the "Hoell Rescue Device." FDNY bought many and place them in service in 1882. The first documented rescue, using a Pompier ladder, was in 1884.
Firefighters would scale the upper stories of buildings by reaching out a window and crashing the ladder's hook in a window of the floor above. The firefighter would then climb up the outside of the building, enter the window, or just stand on the sill, and repeat the process. There are many documented rescues, using this tool, on record. While this sounds very dangerous today, it was practiced for decades and there are probably firefighters serving in the US today who have done this. It is probably safe to assume that it was only done in practice. Many firefighter rookie schools required recruits to climb pompier ladders and jump into life nets as part of their training, well into the late twentieth century. (In the 70's and 80's.) I actually have video of a rookie class demonstrating the use of pompier ladders. The Boston area fire departments may STILL use them in training schools today. It is reported that pompier ladders were still carried on FDNY apparatus until July 11, 1996.
The Dallas Fire Department museum has dozens of pompier ladders on display and in storage. I think most of these ladders are now simply hanging inside apparatus rooms.
They city of Boston makes every recruit upon graduation climb 6 stories with the Pompier. It is far more intimadating looking then it really is. Rumor has it that Brookline maintains one on every ladder company. We still have 2 lying around the firehouse.
ahhhhh the church raise, yes it does scare the probies but i am glad it was shown and taught because i have used it at least 4 times. once when in a basketball gym a subject throwed a set of keys to another and did not have good pitching skills and the keys landed in the ibeams in the middle of the gym. ohhhh what a great public relations gig when the fd showed and in the matter of minutes did what they had been trying for an hour to do when someone mentioned the fd. we get all hazard down here and this is just another tool in the tool box. construction design has been the death of the pompier ladder, no more double hug windows in the high rises.