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  • Curious

    Fire prevention and smoke detectors are as synonymous as peas & carrots as Forest Gump would say. Many departments actively pursue smoke detector drives and grants.

    But in many communities in America we are building up. Many second and third+ story buildings. Any firefighter on an upper floor doing a search above a fire knows how quickly conditions on those floors deteriorate, and know how quickly a stairway becomes a chimney.

    Are there any departments with such homes in their community actively seeking rescue ladders? Or conducting awareness campaigns for these ladders? Seeking grants?

  • #2
    IMO, we should stick with the emphasis on smoke detectors. A properly located and functioning detector will alert occupants of the danger long before egress route(s) become untenable. People who are elderly, obese, infirm or young will be seriously challenged when it comes time to deploy or navigate rescue ladders. Detectors are cheaper and more easily installed.
    Nothing against the escape ladders for those who like and use them. But I would keep the emphasis on detectors when it comes to fire safety education, community outreach, etc.
    I assume your post refers to private dwellings only.

    Comment


    • #3
      Yes. Private homes. And I agree we cannot ever take the message away from smoke detectors and a properly placed one will hopefully give those extra few seconds to get out. Working in NYC I imagine you have a great deal of experience in multistory egress issues.

      What I have found is ladders are cheap and help add some newness to prevention messages as well. We have a few homes here where well meaning parents have converted the attic into a 3rd floor bedroom for children. They look really good and kids think they're cool - their own little apartment. Many have only a small vent as a secondary egress!!! So we started campaigning for rescue ladders as an addition to smoke detectors.

      What I found was the newness got people's attention. When giving a presentation to a group I would watch heads perk up when I asked how many people have their children sleeping on 2rd and 3rd floors. Then I would ask them if they can't get down the stairs how would they get out? Many parents stated they never thought of that and in the very least forced them to think of an EDITH plan. Got them thinking.

      You never know how much heat or smoke would cause someone to panic and not go down the stairs. So I thought this was a good second option to get into the public, a new message that also reinforced EDITH, and got us into some neighborhoods with multi story homes with a LOWES grant for 50 ladders.

      Anything "new" that got us invited to a group or freshened up the message to get us out there. But smoke detectors always have to be part of any message for the very reasons you are stating. And OF COURSE if you are giving something for free people are interested. As part of our program we went into homes to demonstrate the ladders and as part of that we would check the smoke detectors.

      Got us out there and into homes.
      Last edited by Daniel Byrne; 01-12-2016, 08:15 AM.

      Comment


      • #4
        We still have relatively few multi-story residential structures, though that is changing as land in our district is getting more expensive and it's no longer cheaper to build wide single-story homes. We do have one very large subdivision in which about 50% of the new homes being built are two-story and one 4-unit apartment building, but that's about it, though there are some new sub-divisions in the planning stages that may give us some more 2-story buildings.

        As far as your question, I generally don't even mention escape ladders unless I am asked about them. The reason quite simply is that there are difficult to use under real world conditions. I stick with the smoke detector message and put tremendous time and emphasis on my smoke detector installation program.
        Train to fight the fires you fight.

        Comment


        • #5
          Guess I will have to post another of my "NEGATIVE" posts. I presume you are talking about the chain type escape ladders. We always used(displayed) one in any of our EDITH and other "get out/stay out" presentations . We also had quite a few donated by Lowes back in the 90s and we gave them away primarily during our "low income/head start" smoke detector give away/installation programs. In my opinion they are a double edged sword and in retrospect have more negatives than positives. There is a pretty good learning curve to using them, and climbing down one at 2 PM with several fireman encouraging you -and digging it out from under a cluttered bed at 3 AM are two different animals. On the houses where we gave them away , on our follow up battery change visits , most were shoved away and out of sight out of mind. Like Cap jack said -time and effort better spent on prevention and early detection.
          ?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by slackjawedyokel View Post
            Guess I will have to post another of my "NEGATIVE" posts. I presume you are talking about the chain type escape ladders. We always used(displayed) one in any of our EDITH and other "get out/stay out" presentations . We also had quite a few donated by Lowes back in the 90s and we gave them away primarily during our "low income/head start" smoke detector give away/installation programs. In my opinion they are a double edged sword and in retrospect have more negatives than positives. There is a pretty good learning curve to using them, and climbing down one at 2 PM with several fireman encouraging you -and digging it out from under a cluttered bed at 3 AM are two different animals. On the houses where we gave them away , on our follow up battery change visits , most were shoved away and out of sight out of mind. Like Cap jack said -time and effort better spent on prevention and early detection.
            I also suspect that they won't be where they need to be when they need to be there. It is hard enough getting people to keep fresh batteries in their detectors, never mind staying on top of an escape ladder system.

            I would hope that any new developments are required by code to have hard-wired smoke/CO detectors with battery backup. They should really all be sprinklered but I know that's just crazy talk.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by captnjak View Post
              I also suspect that they won't be where they need to be when they need to be there. It is hard enough getting people to keep fresh batteries in their detectors, never mind staying on top of an escape ladder system.

              I would hope that any new developments are required by code to have hard-wired smoke/CO detectors with battery backup. They should really all be sprinklered but I know that's just crazy talk.
              Sprinklers. Sprinklers. You're worried about sprinklers! That's almost as crazy as ........

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7gD2KtepSM

              Seriously though, IMO talking about smoke detectors and then having an installation program (supported by a good, solid school-based multi-visit curriculum based program) is far more practical than escape ladders, for a number of reasons.

              I do like to see all this discussion in the prevention forums. It warms the cockles of my heart (Whatever the heck a cockle is).
              Train to fight the fires you fight.

              Comment


              • #8
                The Kidde Ladders seem to be easy to use, simply hook the window and pull the tab. Serious question because I do have minimal expierience with them other than that one drive a few years back, what do you feel is difficult with them?

                I posted this question because there has been some headlines on vicitms in upper floors.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Current codes do require hard-wired with battery backup. A good thing is that most of the new detectors have 10 year lithium batteries sealed inside the detector. So when you take it out of the box you turn the detector into the base and it activates the detector. No way to take the battery out. Trying to out code human stupidity.

                  Sprinklers are an issue. Here in SC we lost nine firefighters in a building that should have had them. We received national attention. Yes our politicians are fighting the code requirement to include sprinklers in all construction.

                  Here is my take on this and I am not trying to instigate here. But so long as the voters are not educated on sprinkler systems and believe such things as if one goes off they all go off, then their elected politicians can fight us without backlash. So how do you fix this? JUST MY THOUGHTS here, but educating our firefighters on sprinkler systems. I can walk into most fire stations here in SC and ask a simple question on sprinkler systems, such as how many GPM do they produce, and will almost always get an incorrect answer. So until our rank and file are educated, and they can thus educate the voters even if that means just their own families, politicians are free to fight us without reprisals.


                  Is sprinkler system information in Firefighter I curriculum - in terms of educating the public?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Daniel Byrne View Post
                    The Kidde Ladders seem to be easy to use, simply hook the window and pull the tab. Serious question because I do have minimal expierience with them other than that one drive a few years back, what do you feel is difficult with them?

                    I posted this question because there has been some headlines on vicitms in upper floors.
                    Imagine a real life scenario where somebody has to find the ladder, open the window enough to get out without breaking the glass, get out of the window and on to the ladder and then climb down a pretty unstable platform in the dark during a fire.

                    Honestly, that's a lot to ask of an adult in a dynamic situation, much less a kid.

                    It's one thing to teach them how to use them when you are 5' off the ground in a nice big window in the daylight on a firesafety trailer and real world 2AM situation.

                    That's just my opinion, but I see them as, quite honestly, almost more of an additional hazard than a solution to a problem.

                    Teach them to close the door. Open the window. Make noise. Stay low. And wait for responders with a adequate ladder that doesn't swing like chandelier in the window as you try to get a toe hold on the small rungs.

                    Again, Just my opinion.
                    Train to fight the fires you fight.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by LaFireEducator View Post
                      Imagine a real life scenario where somebody has to find the ladder, open the window enough to get out without breaking the glass, get out of the window and on to the ladder and then climb down a pretty unstable platform in the dark during a fire.

                      Honestly, that's a lot to ask of an adult in a dynamic situation, much less a kid.

                      It's one thing to teach them how to use them when you are 5' off the ground in a nice big window in the daylight on a firesafety trailer and real world 2AM situation.

                      That's just my opinion, but I see them as, quite honestly, almost more of an additional hazard than a solution to a problem.

                      Teach them to close the door. Open the window. Make noise. Stay low. And wait for responders with a adequate ladder that doesn't swing like chandelier in the window as you try to get a toe hold on the small rungs.

                      Again, Just my opinion.
                      basically what I said in my post -- plus again --real world experience - follow up visit ---those nifty ladders are shoved away -out of sight -out of mind -
                      ?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        We taught them to keep them under the bed in each room. The same ladder system was on the rear of our safety house where we required them to climb out and go to the meeting place. Being a parent myself and watching children on the playground and jungle gyms I didn't have much fear of their ability to climb a chain ladder.

                        I agree there are better options for sure and we do stress closing the door, going to a window, and what we taught was throwing items out the window when they see firefighters. Kids would get a blast out of throwing a stuffed animal at a firefighter during the class. BUT that memory stuck with them and when I met these same kids three or four years later, no matter the age, they still remember throwing something at the firefighter. So the end result which is go to a window and get attention was retained.

                        But for us, and again my opinion, having that ladder is a good option in a last resort scenario and that is how was taught it - when all else fails and the heat/smoke get too unbearable THEN this is an option. We never taught it as a first option. Just giving them as many survival tools as we could.

                        What I liked best, and as stated, it got the discussion flowing. Many parents, after now thinking about it, would come up with a plan such as their children could get on the porch roof from their window, or they would leave a ladder by the door in the garage to grab quickly to get up to the window, etc. Again all last resort measures but got the discussions going, parents thinking, and plans formed.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Daniel Byrne View Post
                          We taught them to keep them under the bed in each room. The same ladder system was on the rear of our safety house where we required them to climb out and go to the meeting place. Being a parent myself and watching children on the playground and jungle gyms I didn't have much fear of their ability to climb a chain ladder.

                          I agree there are better options for sure and we do stress closing the door, going to a window, and what we taught was throwing items out the window when they see firefighters. Kids would get a blast out of throwing a stuffed animal at a firefighter during the class. BUT that memory stuck with them and when I met these same kids three or four years later, no matter the age, they still remember throwing something at the firefighter. So the end result which is go to a window and get attention was retained.

                          But for us, and again my opinion, having that ladder is a good option in a last resort scenario and that is how was taught it - when all else fails and the heat/smoke get too unbearable THEN this is an option. We never taught it as a first option. Just giving them as many survival tools as we could.

                          What I liked best, and as stated, it got the discussion flowing. Many parents, after now thinking about it, would come up with a plan such as their children could get on the porch roof from their window, or they would leave a ladder by the door in the garage to grab quickly to get up to the window, etc. Again all last resort measures but got the discussions going, parents thinking, and plans formed.
                          And if you found them effective, that's great and it works for you.

                          Quite honestly, even though my primary task is fire prevention, I am also tasked with several other duties and I don't have the time to go to the homes and teach each family. In addition, I work the day tour, and even though I do perform some programs at night, that's very much the exception and not the rule. Each evening our 2 shift membersand rideout volunteers are generally tasked with truck and station maintenance (we have 5 outlying volunteer staffed stations one of which is checked and cleaned each night by the fulltime staff) plus handling runs, so the time most nights does not exist for them to do the programs either. They are simply generally not tasked with prevention as they have suppression and line functions that do tie up most of their evening time.

                          The simple fact is I feel that they are overpriced and difficult to use, especially in an actual emergency situation. I would much rather focus my efforts on talking about and installing smoke detectors as that is what I have found works for us.

                          I just don't see a kid deploying a ladder in a real world situation, and have experienced climbing down one myself. They simply are not practical for most adults ina real world scenario.
                          Last edited by LaFireEducator; 01-12-2016, 01:15 PM.
                          Train to fight the fires you fight.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Whatever works for you great ---and you are right --- Some where in my 37 years of being a firefighter and teaching fire prevention I missed the part where I could teach the public to overcome /disregard regular behavior. For some reason what I taught in a clinical environment didn't always work in a chaotic situation. We did try and teach them to store the ladder in a safe place --- cant always say under the bed , because some of the houses we visited , the kids slept on the floor. But again I must have failed as a teacher because on follow up visits they weren't always where we left them. And even though we did emphasis the stairs were safer and these were a last resort, human nature some times took over and sometimes people didn't that as LA said -big difference between 2 PM 65 degrees and 2 AM 15 degrees. As I said previously -I consider them a double edged sword with time and money better spent elsewhere. But again if you have unlimited time and resources go for it. One last thing -you throw out these "questions" -you get 3 opinions that basically differ - you still try and change our minds. Cant speak for the other two -- but my opinions on these subjects are based on hands on experience , in my area. And most of my experiences go more than a FEW years back.
                            ?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Daniel Byrne View Post
                              Current codes do require hard-wired with battery backup. A good thing is that most of the new detectors have 10 year lithium batteries sealed inside the detector. So when you take it out of the box you turn the detector into the base and it activates the detector. No way to take the battery out. Trying to out code human stupidity.

                              Sprinklers are an issue. Here in SC we lost nine firefighters in a building that should have had them. We received national attention. Yes our politicians are fighting the code requirement to include sprinklers in all construction.

                              Here is my take on this and I am not trying to instigate here. But so long as the voters are not educated on sprinkler systems and believe such things as if one goes off they all go off, then their elected politicians can fight us without backlash. So how do you fix this? JUST MY THOUGHTS here, but educating our firefighters on sprinkler systems. I can walk into most fire stations here in SC and ask a simple question on sprinkler systems, such as how many GPM do they produce, and will almost always get an incorrect answer. So until our rank and file are educated, and they can thus educate the voters even if that means just their own families, politicians are free to fight us without reprisals.


                              Is sprinkler system information in Firefighter I curriculum - in terms of educating the public?
                              Let's not over-complicate this stuff. How much does a firefighter or the public really need to know about sprinkler systems? The fact that they save lives and property should be just about enough. The public is likely more concerned with what it will cost to install them than they are about GPM's or any other nuts and bolts type stuff. How many GPM's does a sprinkler system produce? Depends on the type of system, the water supply, the number of heads activated, etc. But again, who cares? I have no idea exactly how a smoke detector works but that doesn't mean I can't be an advocate for their installation and maintenance.

                              Maybe I'm a skeptic but IMO the politicians are taking the developers side in sprinkler system requirements because that's where the money is. Does the fire service donate on the level that builders do? I don't think it's a matter of education.

                              Comment

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