Ladder Company Tools Study Guide for McGraw-Hill's Firefighter Exams (page 2)
The ladder company apparatus also has a wide array of tools to aid the firefighter in completing firefighting tasks. Some of these tools include ladders, ropes, forcible entry tools, ventilation fans, and tarps.
Hand-operated (ground) portable ladders are tools used by firefighters to reach areas that cannot be accessed by normal means. They come in a variety of lengths, from less than 10 feet to more than 50 feet.
Ladders commonly used by firefighters are listed below.
Single (Straight) Ladder—A ladder that is nonadjustable in length and consists of only one section, a single (straight) ladder generally ranges in length from 12 to 24 feet and can be placed into operation by one firefighter acting alone. A single straight ladder is used for quick access to the roofs and windows of two-story structures.
Extension Ladder—A ladder that is adjustable in length and generally consists of one or more movable sections beyond the base, an extension ladder uses a rope (halyard) and pulley system for extension and retraction. It ranges in length from 24 to 50 feet and is usually placed in operation by two or more firefighters.
Combination Ladder—A ladder designed to be used three ways—single, extension, and A-frame; a combination ladder ranges in length from 8 to 14 feet.
Roof Ladder—A single, straight ladder with folding hooks attached to the beams at the top end that grab the roof ridge pole. A roof ladder is designed to allow firefighters to work atop and ventilate peaked roofs.
Folding (Suitcase) Ladder—A single, straight ladder with hinged rungs allowing it to be folded for carrying through narrow spaces like hallways and to access tight spaces such as closets. A folding, or suitcase, ladder comes equipped with nonslip, safety shoes at its butt end.
Pole Ladder—A pole ladder is a maximum length extension ladder having stay poles attached to the outside of each beam for enhanced stability.
Pompier (Scaling) Ladder—A single beam ladder with rungs extending out on both sides, a pompier ladder is designed to be inserted into windows to allow firefighters to climb building facades. It is not designed to rest on the ground. It has a large hook at the top that is inserted into a window and ranges in length from 6 feet to 20 feet. (The word pompier means firefighter in French.)
Ropes are used in a variety of ways by firefighters. They can be employed to hoist, secure, and lower tools, hoses, and appliances and for search-and-rescue purposes.
The part of a rope that is used in tying knots is known as the working end. The long part not used when tying knots is the standing end.
Types of Ropes
Ropes are made of several types of materials, each with its characteristic properties.
Nylon Rope—The strongest rope in common use, a nylon rope is excellent in absorbing shock loads when used for rescue and lifting loads and has superior abrasion, oil, and chemical resistance properties.
Polyester Rope—A strong rope that stretches very little, a polyester rope doesn't have the shock-absorbing capability of nylon rope.
Polypropylene Rope—A lightweight rope, a polypropylene rope is the only rope used in the fire service that floats, and it is therefore used in marine firefighting operations. It is not as strong as nylon or polyester.
Natural Fiber (Manila)—A type of rope that holds knots firmly and stretches very little, a natural fiber rope is subject to deterioration by chemicals and mildew.
Uses of Ropes
Ropes are used for numerous purposes in firefighting operations.
Life Saving Rope—Approximately 150 feet long, a life-saving rope is used to lower firefighters and victims from dangerous positions during fire operations.
Personal Rope—Approximately 50 feet long, a personal rope is used by firefighters to lower themselves from dangerous positions.
Search Rope—Approximately 200 feet long, a search rope is used by firefighters as a retrieval lifeline and to perform searches safely in large, complex areas. It provides a fixed anchor point to keep firefighters from becoming disoriented during searches.
Utility Rope—Approximately 40 feet long, the utility rope is a multipur-pose rope used for securing tools and equipment. It is not used for life-saving purposes.
Making knots in rope entails tying the parts of one or more ropes together. Knots are used by firefighters to perform many tasks, such as temporarily securing an object with a hitch or single/simple knot. Knots are also used to make a rope longer by tying two ropes together (bend knot). A rope can also be bent to form two parallel sides (bight) or made into a loop by crossing the sides of a bight.
There are many different types of knots, including the following:
Overhand (Thumb) Knot—The simplest of all knots, an overhand knot is used as a safety hitch or binder to ensure a knot will not loosen.
Half Hitch—A half hitch knot is used to hoist and lower tools and equipment.
Clove Hitch—Formed by making two half hitches and secured with an overhand knot (binder), a clove hitch is also used for hoisting and lowering tools and equipment.
Rolling Hitch—A rolling hitch is a series of half hitches used to secure hose lines that have been hoisted along the exterior of the building. They are generally secured with a binder.
Becket Bend—A becket bend knot is particularly suited for tying two ropes of unequal diameter together.
Square Knot—A square knot is used to tie two ropes of equal diameter together.
Bowline—A bowline knot will not slip or tighten under tension and is used for hoisting and lowering portable ladders.
Bowline on a Bight (Rescue Knot)—used to lower and lift firefighters and victims from roofs, windows, and confined spaces during rescue operations. A bowline is used to support the body while the bight prevents the rope from tightening and slipping. It is used in conjunction with a slippery hitch to secure the working end of the rope during lowering and lifting rescue operations.
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