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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I'm with you on this one Ben!
I'm a training officer, and I completely disagree with this.

But as a Training Officer Ben, I disagree with being behind the ladder.

So who's wrong? Who's right?

This debate could go on for years with both parties thinking they're right....
My point - being a Training Officer doesn't necessarily make one position or another the correct one.

I'm interested - has anyone actually seen an injury occur due to one heeling method or another, or is this entirely hypothetical?

In my case, I've seen injuries from dropped tools while heeling from the front and none while heeling from the rear, so I'm not just citing theory or textbook photos here.
Ben,

A firefighter who is footing a ladder and watching for hazards at the same time is not "Distracted", he's aware. And as important as footing a ladder is, it hardly requires a great deal of concentration. As for the the Safety or Division Officer watching for impending collapses or other hazards, he is doing that along with me, not for me.
So Ben it sounds like you favor being under the ladder with your back to the building? Sorry I have to disagree, it is safer and eiser to do it the other way. Our man from Portugal has it right.
Hi again..
Let´s see if i can explain how we make an learn..
for example: the ladder is in position, one FF stand in one of the sides, for example in the left side of the ladder, he doesn´t stand behind the FF that is to up or down, theFF put it aside , and puts one foot on the ladder down to lock
Ben I couldn't disagree with you more! SAFETY is everyones responsibility, some departments might not have the luxury of a division/ safety officer in the early stages. Also please note that not any one person can see everything, the FF footing the ladder is responsible for anyone that is on or goes up that ladder, and to insure that whom ever went up is accounted for, i.e. 4 FF's up 4 FF's down, if only 3 come down (s)he should be notifying command that only 3 came down.
i got a picture a gif that could explain better, its a brazilian manual, in the picture there 3 FF, because its a diferent technic, but if you look the FF, beside..and the how the foot is, and the hand...there isn´t the risk of the FF its getting down and step the other... in a regular operation just to lock the ladder, one FF it´s enought. See the page 2.. http://www.nce.ufrj.br/concursos/encerrados/cbmerj/cas/extras/009-m... Just to finish, i´m not here with the intention of teaching anyone, there are diferent ways of doing the same thing, diferent countries, rules, technicians manual..
Stay safe
Like I said before.
Philly, if you're not concentrating on your body position, your grasp on the ladder, and the ladder's movement (or lack therof) then you must might be distracted.

I agree that heeling a ladder doesn't require a lot of concentration...as long as nothing goes wrong, which is most of the time.
Does SAFETY include catching the dropped axe in your unprotected face after it rattles down the front of the ladder? I've seen it happen, more than once. I've also seen dropped tools rattle down the front of the ladder and completely miss the ladder heeler, who was behind it.
Based on what? Have you personally seen someone injured one way or the other?

I've seen injuries occur heeling the ladder from the front, but not from the back.

I've seen ladders tip over sideways when heeled from the front, but not from the back.

I've seen the ladder heelman obstruct other firefighters advancing hoselines up the ladder when heeling from the front, but not the back.

Heeling the ladder from the back is listed as a validated skill in at least two widely-distributed firefighter training texts, as well as other firefighter training materials going back at least to 1975.

If you have some evidence to support your opinion, I'd be interested in seeing/hearing it.

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