You Make the Call…Ladder Drill

You Make the CallYou’re the boss on the ladder company today and have decided to run the troops through their paces.  The large extension ladder is raised in front of the firehouse.

You’ve sent the young guy up to practice working off the side and locking in when a woman with a clip board casually strolls up and begins to talk to you.

Even though all your member are in their PPE with helmets in place, she refuses to stand back as she makes notes on a sheet on her clip board.

“I notice your ladder is not secured at the top,” she tells you.

“Well No, Ma’am, it’s not, we’re practicing a situation where that doesn’t happen, that’s why this fellow here is holding the ladder,” you tell her while pointing to your foot man holding the ladder as he always does.

She presents credentials from the local occupational safety department and orders your member off the ladder.  She then demands to speak to your supervisor for a violation of safety laws.

What do you tell her?  You make the call.

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27 thoughts on “You Make the Call…Ladder Drill”

  1. Interesting, I dont think we have ever secured our ladders from the top. How would citing us for practicing jobs that we have to do in order to save lives. What if someone was on the third floor of a burning building and we needed to rescue them, would she then be walking by with her clipboard then and cite us for not securing the ladder at the top when we are saving someone? I honestly would have the guys keep training, because it is the only way we can be good at our jobs, however i would have the next person higher up come out and talk to her, be it a captain, or BC. I know that all of the brass here would support that decision, and its the way we train all the time.

    1. Well looking threw the Essentials of fire fighting book 5, I don’t seem to be able to find where NFPA states you must secure the top of your ladder. Having said this, the lady should be sent to see the supervisor and let him work out the details.But take pictures of your setup so they have visual proof of what you were doing.

  2. Interesting, I dont think we have ever secured our ladders from the top. How would citing us for practicing jobs that we have to do in order to save lives. What if someone was on the third floor of a burning building and we needed to rescue them, would she then be walking by with her clipboard then and cite us for not securing the ladder at the top when we are saving someone? I honestly would have the guys keep training, because it is the only way we can be good at our jobs, however i would have the next person higher up come out and talk to her, be it a captain, or BC. I know that all of the brass here would support that decision, and its the way we train all the time.

  3. Well looking threw the Essentials of fire fighting book 5, I don't seem to be able to find where NFPA states you must secure the top of your ladder. Having said this, the lady should be sent to see the supervisor and let him work out the details.But take pictures of your setup so they have visual proof of what you were doing.

  4. Let her talk to the supervisor! Dealing with headaches like this is why he was given the specially colored helmet, right? Send her inside to talk to him/her though; This gets her out of your hair, and since she doesn’t have any PPE (and apparently dosen’t have the sense to know she shouldn’t be in the area around a ladder without it) gets her out of a potentially dangerous area.

  5. Let her talk to the supervisor! Dealing with headaches like this is why he was given the specially colored helmet, right? Send her inside to talk to him/her though; This gets her out of your hair, and since she doesn't have any PPE (and apparently dosen't have the sense to know she shouldn't be in the area around a ladder without it) gets her out of a potentially dangerous area.

  6. Yes mam, no mam, I’d be glad to get him for you right away mam. However I will have to ask you to please step away (how long was the ladder + 5-10 feet) due to the fact that you do not have on company/NFPA required PPE on..

  7. Yes mam, no mam, I'd be glad to get him for you right away mam. However I will have to ask you to please step away (how long was the ladder + 5-10 feet) due to the fact that you do not have on company/NFPA required PPE on..

  8. I’d explain that she is too close to the ladder and creating a hazard, being untrained without protective equipment and shoo her in the captain’s general direction. Hopefully the Captain will explain that just like the police carry several dozen small explosive charges around their waists as part of their job, Firefighters are extensively trained to work magic with ladders of all kinds. If there is actually a regulation against the sort of training you are doing I would lobby through the most effective channels to get an exemption to allow you to do your jobs. I imagine such a regulation should already be on the books though and the inspector would be out of place.

  9. I'd explain that she is too close to the ladder and creating a hazard, being untrained without protective equipment and shoo her in the captain's general direction. Hopefully the Captain will explain that just like the police carry several dozen small explosive charges around their waists as part of their job, Firefighters are extensively trained to work magic with ladders of all kinds. If there is actually a regulation against the sort of training you are doing I would lobby through the most effective channels to get an exemption to allow you to do your jobs. I imagine such a regulation should already be on the books though and the inspector would be out of place.

  10. Tell her, in the nicest way possible, to Foxtrot Oscar and talk to your supervisor. S/He will explain to this woman that emergency services are allowed to train for emergencies.

  11. Tell her, in the nicest way possible, to Foxtrot Oscar and talk to your supervisor. S/He will explain to this woman that emergency services are allowed to train for emergencies.

  12. Notify your supervisor ASAP of what’s going on, and try to get his/her to your location ASAP in order to deal with the annoying b!tch who’s trying to undermine our efforts to train.

    If the supervisor is available, escort your unwanted guest to an area of privacy while awaiting the supervisor’s arrival, thus controlling what she encounters along the way. Deal with her in as cordial a manner as possible, but be careful of what you say and do. Have the guys suspend their ladder training until you’re able to discuss things with the supervisor privately.

    If the supervisor is not available, provide her with contact info for the department’s health & safety officer so that she may inquire further, and also request her contact information. Pass that information up through the chain of command immediately and explain to them the encounter with the know-it-all. Again, be cordial but careful in your words and gestures. Suspend the ladder training until you get further guidance from your supervisor…and you can be almost sure as to what he/she will say.

    This is part of why the higher end of the chain exists — to deal with this type of sh!t. Let them handle it, and maintain your professional image (and that of your crew).

  13. Notify your supervisor ASAP of what's going on, and try to get his/her to your location ASAP in order to deal with the annoying b!tch who's trying to undermine our efforts to train.

    If the supervisor is available, escort your unwanted guest to an area of privacy while awaiting the supervisor's arrival, thus controlling what she encounters along the way. Deal with her in as cordial a manner as possible, but be careful of what you say and do. Have the guys suspend their ladder training until you're able to discuss things with the supervisor privately.

    If the supervisor is not available, provide her with contact info for the department's health & safety officer so that she may inquire further, and also request her contact information. Pass that information up through the chain of command immediately and explain to them the encounter with the know-it-all. Again, be cordial but careful in your words and gestures. Suspend the ladder training until you get further guidance from your supervisor…and you can be almost sure as to what he/she will say.

    This is part of why the higher end of the chain exists — to deal with this type of sh!t. Let them handle it, and maintain your professional image (and that of your crew).

  14. I agree with the folks who say pass it up to the immediate supervisor. For the immediate event I would halt the activity, tell everyone to take ten with two people going inside (one for waters, and another to warn the supervisor), then walk and talk with Princess Safety on the way to the supervisor. Cordial, polite, paying attention, and letting her talk. I’m sure there are other tasks and trainings our adrenaline-junkie hose’ettes and trucketeers can do while someone with more experience and rank talks with Lil’ Miss Can’t Be Wrong. Whatever comes about I would have to follow. We just reformed our Safety Council, and I’m sure an SOP or directive would come around in a month. Next time though, I would set up behind the station.

    Hopefully we could turn her at least into a neutral party, rather than having an antagonistic relationship. My luck stands that our department chief would be in, and he would personally want to talk with her. Chief would be a blessing – he’s stellar when it comes to talking with people outside the FD… except for that angry lady who wouldn’t calm down because she wanted a “police” report for insurance (car crash), but only FD showed up and made an NFIRS… cutbacks, y’know?

    One final note: In Michigan, MIOSHA is funded a great deal by fines. Those weasels would write up their own dear mothers.

  15. I agree with the folks who say pass it up to the immediate supervisor. For the immediate event I would halt the activity, tell everyone to take ten with two people going inside (one for waters, and another to warn the supervisor), then walk and talk with Princess Safety on the way to the supervisor. Cordial, polite, paying attention, and letting her talk. I'm sure there are other tasks and trainings our adrenaline-junkie hose'ettes and trucketeers can do while someone with more experience and rank talks with Lil' Miss Can't Be Wrong. Whatever comes about I would have to follow. We just reformed our Safety Council, and I'm sure an SOP or directive would come around in a month. Next time though, I would set up behind the station.

    Hopefully we could turn her at least into a neutral party, rather than having an antagonistic relationship. My luck stands that our department chief would be in, and he would personally want to talk with her. Chief would be a blessing – he's stellar when it comes to talking with people outside the FD… except for that angry lady who wouldn't calm down because she wanted a “police” report for insurance (car crash), but only FD showed up and made an NFIRS… cutbacks, y'know?

    One final note: In Michigan, MIOSHA is funded a great deal by fines. Those weasels would write up their own dear mothers.

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