Aerials, Apparatus, Engine Company, Equipment, Ladder Company, Petrillo, Pumpers, Rescue Company, Rescues

Moving Beyond Standard Ground Ladders with Nontraditional Types

Issue 4 and Volume 21.

An engine company’s minimum complement of ground ladders, as dictated by National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1901, Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus (2016 ed.), comprises one extension ladder, one straight ladder equipped with roof hooks, and one attic ladder.

But, sometimes, those ladders don’t fit a situation where firefighters find themselves because of a tight space, inadequate room, hard-to-access ingress, uneven surfaces, or another type of issue. However, there are ladder types that go beyond the typical ladder complement to fit those situations.

1 The model 35B is a traditional jackknife-style combination ladder made by Duo-Safety Ladder that can be converted from a straight ladder to an A-frame. (Photo courtesy of Duo-Safety Ladder
1 The model 35B is a traditional jackknife-style combination ladder made by Duo-Safety Ladder that can be converted from a straight ladder to an A-frame. (Photo courtesy of Duo-Safety Ladder.)

Combination Ladders

Randy Vandersee, plant manager of Duo-Safety Ladder, says Duo-Safety makes two versions of an A-frame or combination ladder that work well in unusual circumstances. “Our 300A model works as an extension ladder where the fly slides up, as well as an A-frame ladder that has a spreader assembly similar to a step ladder,” Vandersee says. “This ladder is available in a six- to nine-foot length (six feet A-frame and nine feet extension), an eight- to 13-foot length, and a 10- to 15-foot length.”

2 Little Giant Ladder Systems makes the Overhaul, a multipurpose, triple combination ladder that can serve as an A-frame, a roof, or an attic ladder and has a carrying handle. (Photo courtesy of Little Giant Ladder Systems
2 Little Giant Ladder Systems makes the Overhaul, a multipurpose, triple combination ladder that can serve as an A-frame, a roof, or an attic ladder and has a carrying handle. (Photo courtesy of Little Giant Ladder Systems.)

Duo-Safety also makes the model 35B, a traditional jackknife-style combination ladder, Vandersee points out. “It’s often used to bridge a fence or wall,” he notes. “It folds in the center and comes in six- to 12-foot, seven- to 14-foot, and eight- to 16-foot lengths.”

Sam Cramer, chief executive officer at Alco-Lite, a product line made by Sam Carbis Solutions Group, says that Alco-Lite makes the CJL series ladder, which is a short extension and A-frame combination ladder. “We’ve made the CJL series for years, and it has traditionally sold well in the New York and Pennsylvania areas,” Cramer says. “It can be an A-frame or stepladder when needed or be reconfigured into an extension ladder in 10-, 12-, 14-, and 16-foot lengths. In the A-frame configuration, it runs from six to 10 feet high.”

3 This MT-22 model ladder, made by Werner Company, can function as a straight ladder or as an adjustable A-frame stairway ladder as shown. (Photo courtesy of Werner Company
3 This MT-22 model ladder, made by Werner Company, can function as a straight ladder or as an adjustable A-frame stairway ladder as shown. (Photo courtesy of Werner Company.)

Lyndon Walpole, vice president of governmental sales for Little Giant Ladder Systems, says Little Giant has developed two combination ladder models, the Overhaul and the Defender, built to comply with NFPA 1931, Standard for Manufacturer’s Design of Fire Department Ground Ladders, and NFPA 1932, Standard on Use, Maintenance, and Service Testing of In-Service Fire Department Ground Ladders. “The Overhaul is a multipurpose, triple combination ladder that can serve as an A-frame, a roof, or an attic ladder,” Walpole says. “This all-aluminum ladder has a built-in carrying handle that works well with gloved hands, has a large ratchet leg release, and a heavy-duty wheel kit.”

By including a ratchet leg system on the Overhaul, Walpole notes, “You don’t need blocking to make the ladder straight on a hillside or on uneven ground. You put your bunker boot on the ratchet pin and raise a side of the ladder so the ladder is in an even, stable position.” The Overhaul is available in four sizes of A-frame from four to eight feet, an adjustable extension ladder from nine to 15 feet long, and a roof ladder from nine to 15 feet long.

4 Duo-Safety Ladder makes both folding and double-ended roof ladders. Shown is the double-ended version with recessed roof hooks on each end. (Photo courtesy of Duo-Safety Ladder.)
4 Duo-Safety Ladder makes both folding and double-ended roof ladders. Shown is the double-ended version with recessed roof hooks on each end. (Photo courtesy of Duo-Safety Ladder.)

Little Giant’s Defender is built identical to the Overhaul, Walpole points out, in 17- and 22-foot-long sizes. “The 22-footer goes from 11 to 18 feet,” he says, “and can be used on the fireground but not as a rescue ladder. Both of our models are great to use on staircases in the A-frame position or for getting over a fence, wall, or other obstacle. And, you can easily walk into an elevator with either of these ladders or carry them up a staircase.”

Brent Sedlacek, senior product manager for extension ladders at Werner Company, says Werner makes the MT series aluminum multipurpose ladder that can function as either a straight ladder or an A-frame. Sedlacek says the ladder uses a telescoping design that allows the ladder to be adjusted to various heights for maximum versatility, curved rails for smooth climbing, and an extra-wide flared bottom with nonslip feet. The MT is available in 13-, 17-, 22-, and 26-foot lengths.

Nontraditional Designs

Vandersee says that one of the ladder designs requested by firefighters is a folding roof ladder. “As roofs get higher and with longer pitches, putting a longer roof ladder on the side of a pumper can be a problem,” he says. “We make a folding roof ladder that is 15 feet long folded, which opens like a jackknife to 30 feet, still with the typical roof hooks on it. This all-aluminum ladder comes in 10-, 12-, 14-, and 15-foot folded lengths.”

Duo-Safety also makes a double-ended roof ladder, Vandersee notes, “as a safe alternative to those fire departments that were installing a second set of roof hooks on their roof ladders. Our double-ended roof ladders are aluminum, 10 to 20 feet in length, and have prong feet and recessed roof hooks on both ends.”

5 Alco-Lite designed its double-ended roof ladder so a firefighter wouldn’t have to helicopter the ladder to get to the other side of the peak of the roof. (Photo courtesy of Alco-Lite.)
5 Alco-Lite designed its double-ended roof ladder so a firefighter wouldn’t have to helicopter the ladder to get to the other side of the peak of the roof. (Photo courtesy of Alco-Lite.)

David Williamson, fire sales manager for Alco-Lite, says Alco-Lite makes a double-ended roof ladder for fire departments “so that a firefighter doesn’t have to helicopter the roof ladder to get to the other side of the peak of the roof.” Williamson points out the double-ended roof ladder “is designed to save firefighters time, and so they don’t have to worry about orienting the ladder.”

The double-ended version is Alco-Lite’s TRL pumper-style series in lengths from eight to 20 feet, while its double-ended DRL series, introduced this year, comes in 12-, 14-, 18-, and 20-foot lengths. “We’re also working on a folding roof ladder,” he adds. “We’re finishing testing, and it will be out sometime in 2016. It will be in the 14- to 20-foot range when in the open position.”

Compact Extension and Folding Attic Ladders

Sedlacek says his company makes a compact extension ladder in 16- and 24-foot lengths. “Our 24-foot compact extension ladder is only nine feet long compressed because it has three sections, while our 16-footer is just over six feet long in compressed state,” Sedlacek points out.

Williamson says his company makes the FL series folding attic ladder in eight-, 10-, 12-, and 14-foot lengths. Alco-Lite also makes the AEL series narrow attic ladders. “They have a 13½-inch outside width,” he says, “and come in 10-, 12-, and 14-foot lengths.”

6 Werner Company makes a compact extension ladder-its 24-foot version is only nine feet long because it is made up of three sections. (Photo courtesy of Werner Company
6 Werner Company makes a compact extension ladder-its 24-foot version is only nine feet long because it is made up of three sections. (Photo courtesy of Werner Company.)

For the rear of fire vehicles, Werner makes the Sure-Step II access ladder, often used on aerials and rescue trucks. “The bottom two to four rungs (depending on the vehicle) fold up and pull away from the body,” Williamson notes, “to give the firefighter the correct climbing angle with steps that drop below the tailboard.”

ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based journalist and is a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment editorial advisory board. He served 22 years with the Verdoy (NY) Fire Department, including in the position of chief.