Aerial operations are an often neglected skill in the fire service. Frequently, a newer firefighter will hear, “Put the stick up and cut the roof.” The veteran firefighter will point to the outriggers, point to the controls and then point to the roof and say, “Make it happen.” It sounds easy enough, but it is more complicated than that. Is just slamming the aerial into Grandma’s gutters really the minimum requirement operators should have? Or should aerial operators actually try to perform this action with skill?
I was taught to treat that ladder as if it was all that kept me from falling to the ground when you were on it. When I see firefighters slam the aerial around, rattling it, banging it, I cringe. When they try to place the aerial to the firehouse roof and hit the building and then blame the piece, it makes me cringe. Who’s to say I won’t be on that ladder some day? Anything is possible in the fire service.
Here are some things to keep in mind while checking the aerial:
What is the maximum limit of operations I can reach?
How far up and down can I go?
How close can I get to the cars next to me and still throw the outriggers?
If I put the ladder truck parallel to an engine, will I be able to use the aerial?
What else can I do with the aerial SAFELY?
The best start you can have with the aerial is to be smooth, efficient and precise. Everything else will build off of these skills. To practice this, we have a short drill that can help:
1. Get a collection of similar traffic cones.
2. Disperse the cones around a training area or the area where you normally check the piece.
3. Put the cones high, low, near and far so you will have as large a part of the aerial’s range as you can.
4. Hang another cone from the tip of the aerial. Use a carbiner so you can drop it off if you get a call during the drill.
5. Play “stack the cone”. Try to stack the cone hanging from the aerial on top of the other cones, one at a time.
The people with the smoothest control will do the best. The next step should be a timed event.
The drill can be made more difficult by extending the rope, but the focus may move away from smooth control due to the cone swinging. Rope length around 5′ should be good we found 10′ to be a bit challenging. Thanks to Vententersearch.com They also have a list of variations also.
Good luck, be safe.