I have a 'continuing' discussion with a few people (all of whom have only ever worked with/on ladders since joining the department) about the right way to foot (or heel) a ladder.  Granted I was "taught" the fire service way -to stand beneath the ladder holding the rails- but when I'm footing the ladder I stand facingit (and when climbing I'd prefer the footer do the same).  

I've done carpentry/construction for years and have never seen anyone stand beneath a ladder.  The risk of being hit by dropped tools/materials is too great.  Yet the fire service still teaches this method.

In my opinion, footing the ladder while facing it allows the footer to watch the FF climbing, be aware of any hazards (including dropped tools) and, under conditions or situations where the ladder might slip, allow the footer to actually stand on the bottom rung for additional ballast.

I'm not looking for a poll as to which way you do it but rather, sound arguments for one way or the other.

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Here is a video that I feel bolsters my argument for facing the ladder. Had the firefighter on the ground been facing the ladder he would have known when the firefighter was on the roof, instead he must have guessed and walked away (or else food showed up.)
I've learned both ways, but very rarely on the fire ground would I stand behind the ladder. In training, perhaps, when simply climbing to a high point.
I would think either way would be acceptable if paying attention.
I have always preferred to stand facing the ladder from the front. I prefer this because I can watch who ever is on the ladder. I also feel that having more weight at the base of the ladder as opposed to being behind it holding the ladder from a higher point. I do it the same way with my pressure washing buisness.
And I thought I was the only one who was scratching his head and thinking, "Why stand under the ladder?" How would you know a rescue is taking place? I could easily see some poor sap standing there under the ladder...told "never look up"...and he is completely oblivious to what is going on. Im' with you, Jack, as much as I despise the under-the-ladder footing, I teach both/and, but I would love to have a "textbook" instructor tell us why we stand under the ladder. I think this will lead to some fruitful discussion! Thanks for kicking it off Jack!
well now all my bro's here say i dont post enough so i will comment on this one i;ve been in ems almost 25yrs i have been ff-1 2yrs now and proud of it as far as footing the ladder i prefer the firefighter trained way at the base looking up as for anything falling you have ur helmet and you are watching the man on the ladder so you will know when something is comming down the pike and to take cover thanx and everyone be safe
Here are a couple of more links for my argument of facing the ladder (since my "experience" is intangible to those I've had this discussion with.)



See section 4.8 - http://www.staffordshire.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/EF688AB3-98EE-4234-B19...
Interesting Jack...I "learned" it the Fire way but have always done it facing the ladder....If I am heeling the ladder for someone and they have to take out a window I really don't want all that glass falling on my ass...regardless of protective gear...and by facing it I can keep track of my partner on the ladder....Just my look at it.....Paul
Paul, et al,

When the logic is laid out (at least in my mind) there seems to be no good reason for footing a ladder beneath it. When I tell a probie I want them to foot facing the ladder I'm told, "That's not the way I was taught." Sigh.....
That sucks. When a senior guy tells me to do something a certian way whether I think it is the right way or not I do it the way I was told. Unless it is something I think will get someone hurt.
I believe one of the justifications for footing the ladder from the rear (and when doing so, you don't really "foot" it, do you?) is increased safety for the footer, the argument being that the ladder will afford at least some protection from falling objects. The large gaps between the rungs and rails lead me to believe that this protection is extremely limited. Far better to face the ladder - and the guy climbing it and the burning building he's climbing up to - and actually be able to see a potential hazard before it lands on your head. (Situational awareness, anyone?) How 'bout a live wire falling onto the ladder? If you're holding on to the ladder from the year with a death grip, then "death grip" might become more than just a figure of speech.
Situational awareness, anyone?
Exactly. A phrase bandied about constantly yet often disregarded when 'footing' a ladder.
Alright, here's some valid(IMO) reasons for heeling a ladder in from underneath/behind:

You have much more control over the ladder and can apply more force to holding it in place(basically your entire body weight) when heeling in from the back side. When heeling it in from the front, you are pretty much limited to just the strength in your arms and shoulders.

You are much safer from falling tools, etc when underneath. any falling tools or debris will hit ladder rungs before they hit you. This serves two purposes, to warn you that "something" is coming down, and to help deflect the falling object in directions away from your noggin.

If your assignment is to heel in the ladder, you don't NEED to see what the person climbing up or down is doing. You assignment is not to watch them climb, your assignment is to heel in the ladder.

And I've been working off of ladders for 25 years(satellite dish installation) so I have a little experience.



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