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Headfirst Ladder slide

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  • Headfirst Ladder slide

    Im sure most of you out there have heard of this life saving technique. My question is who out there has taken the class for this and what do you think about it? Im looking forward to hearing everyone's response.

    I will add my comments later on.

    Captain James Collier
    McMahan Fire Rescue
    KCTCS Area 6 Instructor

  • #2
    Took the class a few months back with three other guys from my engine company. We did the head first bail, with an inversion part way down, back to feet under head. We also did the window bail using a rope and halligan in the crook of the window for an anchor; the first floor bailout; the 'hang on the window sill then drop'; an SCBA maze; buddy breathing techniques; and other "last resort" survival techniques.

    I would recommend the class to everyone. Properly conducted, with knowledgeable instructors and safe practices (belays for everything over the first floor), it's an excellent confidence builder and might save your life.

    J. Black

    The opinions expressed are mine and mine alone and may not reflect those of any organization with which I am associated.


    • #3
      I've attended the class developed by the University of Illinois on saving our own. The went over a variety of bail out techniques.
      I personally don't like the head first method. I'm also not a big fan of any of the ladder bail outs. In the class the ladder was at a relatively low angle, tied in, and was being held. When this situation occurs in real life the ladder will probably be at the normal climbing angle, it may not be tied off, and probably won't be heeled.
      I think we should place greater emphasis on staying out of danger and being aware of changing conditions.
      If you are going to practice these techniques then it is mandatory to have firefighters tied off to a safety line.


      • #4
        I participated in a Firefighter Safety & Survival traing a couple of years ago and one portion of the class tought the headfirst ladder bailout. Looks kinda crazy but it gets the job done, in a hurry. It's definately a life saving maneuver that all firefighters should know and be trained on. Done correctly, you can be out and on the ground in a matter of seconds, versus much lengthier times coming down the conventional way. I'm not advocating using it in non life threatening situations, but I do feel it's something we all should know and be exposed to. It might be a little riskier but it sure beats getting your backside burned off trying to come down "correctly".


        Leather Forever


        • #5
          Every class that has taught bail out techniques has said that they should only be used in extremely hazardous (fecal matter hitting the fan) situations. That being said, I think these classes are a great idea, here in New York state it is taught as a precursor to FAST or RIT training.
          In our class we are required to have a belay line hooked to our packs at any time we are on the ladder, the line isn't there to hold you back just keep you from suffering from deceleration syndrome. The class is taught in a safe manner. The use this only as a last ditch survival effort was emphasized throughout the class. I think it is beneficial for every firefighter to know.

          Shawn M. Cecula
          Lewiston Fire Co. No. 2


          • #6
            I have been through the Saving Our Own training twice and went through the ladder bail both times. I'm always a fan of knowing a technique that might save my own hide someday.

            I've seen a lot of debate on the subject. Apparently, a lot of FF's are being injured in training while doing this. We had two guys injure their shoulders and had some time off for a while. Apparently, shoulder injuries have been somewhat common around the country during this exercise...more so, than injuries sustained by falling off the ladder.

            Also, a lot of people question the usefulness of this b/c of ladder positioning. The ladder pretty much has to be below the sill, which means FF's inside wouldn't be able to see it...and like adsn states...the ladder would probably be at a normal climbing angle which increases the danger. But if conditions are so bad that you don't have the ability to stand up and get your legs out first I'm not sure I'd be concerned about ladder angles. This is a method that can be used when things get REAL bad. Certainly not recommended for normal descents.


            • #7
              Virginia Department of Fire Programs has a class called "Mayday, Firefighter Down!". This class teaches firefighters self-survival techniques as well as rescues of other firefighters. Things that are not taught in firefighter I and II.

              We were taught the ladder bail among several other things. The most important thing to remember in training on techniques of ladder bailing is safety. We utilized a safety rope attached to our pack in the event of a mishap. There have been firefighters seriously injured from this, but from what I have experienced, with proper safety techniques and common sense, injuries can be limited.

              In addition, techniques for rescuing firefighters that have become overcome were taught. These techniques are based on incidents where firefighters lost their lives because rescue either could not be performed or where rescue efforts failed due to lack of training. We all know that when one of our own goes down, more than likely the situation is at a critical level.

              I think classes like these are essential for all firefighters to attend. We all want to make it home to our wives and children. Heaven forbid having to use any of the techniques I have learned, but it is good to know I have the skills and knowledge to perform such rescues if needed. They may even save my own rear some day!

              My $.02.
              Be safe, above all!


              • #8
                Took the Virginia MAYDAY! Firefighter Down! class last weekend. Excellent Class and Excellent Instructors. I had some safety concerns at first but as I watched and learned from the instructors I saw that they were EXTREMELY Safety Conscious. All techniques were thoroughly explained and demonstrated.

                I agree that there should be extensive training and practice to learn to avoid situations that call for such drastic measures. I also believe that this training is necessary to save lives. It should be an integral part of the Firefighter I & II curriculum, NOT an optional class.

                The Ladder Bail is just another tool in the toolbox. It is NOT intended for a routine descent. It is to be used ONLY in an EMERGENCY when a rapid escape is necessary for SURVIVAL of the involved firefighters. I do not wish to enter a burning building with someone that habitually gets into situations that require such measures.

                These techniques DO have a place in the Fire Service. LEARN and PRACTICE them! SAFELY!!!

                STAY SAFE!



                • #9
                  I also have NYS "survival" and it is taught in the academy. I agree w/ AVF when I say that the curriculum should be added to FFI and FFII, and other states initial firefighter training. Why should bail out and collapse survival training be a seperate class that many or some volunteer firefighters may not be able to get to? In regards to ADSN's post, I also agree w/ you somewhat. This training is not a end all for hazardous situations. I haven't been in any training level (VA and NY) where observation of conditions wasn't stressed, especially with my generation being the "hooded heroes." We have to rely more and more on numerous senses. However, this training is used in conjunction w/ that to give the means for alternate evacuation techniques.

                  In regards to the ladder slide, I feel that it should still be taught. Again, it is an alternate evacuation technique. While there have been some training deaths attributed to persons attempting this maneuver, (which was not the class for, nor was it supposed to be done) it still gives a means for a firefighter to attempt to "bail out" of a rooom in the event that conditions have deteriorated rapidly. A means other then just jumping out the window. Which is worst, hanging upside down by your toes, having the ladder break or slow down your fall, or free-falling 2 to 3 stories? I'll try to make it on the ladder.

                  The above is my opinion only and doesn't reflect that of any dept/agency I work for, deal with, or am a member of.


                  • #10
                    I've learned it, practiced it, and taught it. If I ever really need it I'm glad it won't be the first time I ever tried it.


                    • #11
                      Same here Plug-Ugly, I hope that I never need it but at least it won't be the first time for me to have done it.


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