|1 The QSA is a roof step that will make a vertical ventilation operation a faster and, more importantly, safer procedure. It is adjustable to all pitched roofs and can be carried hands-free up any ladder. (Photo courtesy of the author.)|
By Robert S. Duffy
Even though he survived the fall, he was hospitalized with numerable life-threating injuries. Ever since that accident, the fall and how it affected the life of that firefighter would always be in the back of my mind every time I had to operate from a rooftop.
A number of years and many fires later, I had advanced up through the ranks and was promoted to captain of training for the Springfield (MA) Fire Department. In this position, I spent a lot of time training firefighters on vertical ventilation and rooftop operations. I observed that the one thing most were concerned about was falling off or through roofs because of the unavailability of equipment that truly gave them a safe and sturdy footing. The enlightenment I gained from training these firefighters caused me to think that there has to be a faster, safer, and overall better way to perform vertical ventilation operations on a pitched roof.
One night, the idea came to me, so I got up and started sketching out the design concept. The following day I made a very crude prototype to experiment with, and it worked. The last three years of my life have been dedicated to providing a tool that will allow firefighters to more safely perform these dangerous procedures on a pitched roof. I met with engineers, machinists, lawyers, and firefighters-all of whom contributed valuable information and experience in their areas of expertise.
The result of all the time and effort is the invention of the Quick Step Anchor (QSA):
- Quick: The device deploys in seconds and gets a firefighter on and then off the roof as fast as possible, reducing the likelihood of injury because of roof collapse.
- Step: The step instantly adjusts to the pitch of the roof to provide a firefighter with a stable, level surface to stand on-a platform capable of supporting more than 1,000 pounds.
- Anchor: If a firefighter slips from the step, its anchor and a short tether line will arrest the fall at once.
The QSA is a device designed to safely speed up vertical ventilation operations by providing firefighters with a sturdy platform that will take the place of the pickhead ax, trash hook, or halligan tool, which today’s truck personnel currently use as footholds. These procedures require a dedicated firefighter simply to hold the ax, trash hook, or halligan to stabilize the footing and ensure that the tool doesn’t come out of the roof. With today’s reality of reduced staffing, that person may not even be there. The QSA also eliminates the need to stop and reposition the roof ladder to complete the roof cut, an awkward, time-consuming, and potentially dangerous procedure. Performing vertical ventilation operations in this manner is very dangerous and does not provide a solid and confident foothold for the firefighter performing the procedure.
The QSA also incorporates an anchor point that allows a firefighter to anchor himself with a lanyard. In the event that he slips and falls, his fall is arrested by the attached lanyard, which is anchored to the QSA, which is anchored to the roof.
The QSA is a sturdy and robust roof step that will make a vertical ventilation operation a faster and, more importantly, safer procedure. It is adjustable to all pitched roofs and can be carried hands-free up any ladder. The anchor point can be used for rapelling or roof rescues, and it stores easily in any fire apparatus. Training takes minutes, and it is easily used and implemented, as well as being cost-effective. Made of lightweight aluminum, the QSA is maintenance-free.
This solution’s design stabilizes the position of the firefighter to reduce the likelihood of a fall during roof operations, speeds up ventilation operations to decrease the time spent on the roof, and stops a fall as it happens so a firefighter can self-rescue back to the step and the ladder.
ROBERT S. DUFFY is a 20-year veteran of and a captain with the Springfield (MA) Fire Department and the inventor of the Quick Step Anchor.