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.
I agree that the FF's job of "heeling" the ladder is to heel the ladder, however he also has a responsibilty to keep track of what goes up and what comes down.
If something happens on the fireground and the "heeler" has to be replaced for what ever reason, how is the person replacing the "heeler" supposed to know what is going on? It's just like being in command you have to do your face to face and pass on information.
I was first to go up yesterday. The person with me footed facing the house, worked fine. When it was time for me to come back down, ladder wanted to slide sideways - I asked for someone to get underneath and one of the Lt's did the honours, problem solved.