More With Less

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It seems as if lately we are being asked to do more with less almost on a daily basis. Less money, less personnel, less companies and less support. Many factors go into this trend but I think we can all agree that the weak economy (don’t say the dreaded recession word) is mainly to blame. This of course trickles down to us on the street and puts added pressure on us. While we can complain at the kitchen table all we want, write blog posts, picket with signs, carry on media campaigns etc. etc. nothing is really going to change in the near future and it may get worse. So as a result we are all going to have to start getting used to the fact that things are going to change. We are going to have to do more with less.

I was part of a training evolution once where a two-man truck was asked to ventilate the roof. The officer came around the building first carrying a roof ladder. He set it down, sized-up the roof and then turned and walked back around the building. Then the firefighter came around the corner carrying the chainsaw and a pike pole. He walked over to where the officer had set the roof ladder down and placed his saw and hook there. He too then walked back around the corner. A minute or two later the officer and firefighter reappeared carrying a 24-foot extension ladder. They then proceeded to successfully ladder the building and open up the roof. During the critique of the entire evolution I mentioned to the group, and the truck guys in particular, that there were methods that might serve them better to more efficiently and quickly get their ladders and tools to where they needed to be. I suggested laying the 24 flat, placing the roof on it and then placing the tools on the ladders and flat-carrying the whole bundle to the destination. Some in the room had never heard or thought of that type of method. Especially with small crew sizes we need to be quick and efficient with the tasks that are assigned to us. So, in an effort to show some tips and tricks to those that might never have seen some of these methods I have put together some pictures and videos demonstrating them being em ployed by one and two-firefighter crews. I hope this helps someone out there.

The majority of these pictures come from the website Where possible I have included the original presenter’s name and department affiliation along with the description they provided. Nothing I present here is my brain-child, give credit where credit is due. Since the training incident was what got me thinking about this topic I’ve decided to post tips and tricks primarily related to ladder work and ventilation.

Married Hook and Halligan

Clint Mass from the Red, White, and Blue Fire District (CO) Tower 4 sent in this great tool modification. The idea behind the modification is to allow the hook and halligan to be married together in a solid fashion. The first part of the modification involves grinding a rounded notch in the 90 degree portion of the hook (pictured below, left.) This allows the pike end of the halligan to sit in the head of the hook in a more secure fashion. The second modification involves welding a chain link in the exact spot where the fork of the halligan lands on the hook (pictured below, right.) The combination of the notch and chain link allow for the tools to remain married, and easy to carry. This married hook and halligan combination is a great combination of tools for outside functions. The chain link can also be used as an “attachment point” for a personal escape system. As you can see in the photo below, the chain link is actually more of a “keeper” for the carabineer; the actual handle of the hook is handling the load. 

Compartmentalized Ladder Hook

We have featured a few posts with different methods to store a hook on a ladder in our Tips from the Bucket section. The first was titled Hook & Ladder sent in by EVD Dean Denning from Baltimore City Truck Company 5, and the second one DCFD Hook & Ladder sent in by Joe Brown from DCFD Truck Company 17. Both of these methods work well for the ladders mounted on the exterior of the rig, but does not work on ladders stored in a ladder compartment. Technician Larry Lippincott from Loudoun County (VA) Tower Ladder 611 sent in this method for compartment stored ladders. This solution uses a simple clip and some heavy duty Velcro. The clip is simply attached to the rung using the Velcro. This allows the clip to swivel out of the way when the ladder is stored in the compartment. When needed, the clip can be swiveled back into position allowing it to hold the hook securely in place. The clip is secure enough that it holds the tool while throwing the ladder allowing the tool to be released with a good pull. Check out the Tips from the Bucket section for some close-up pictures of the clip in both positions. It is worth mentioning that this method utilizes the side of the hook with the 45 degree angle to help keep the hook secured to the rung.

Married K-12 and Halligan

Paul Ashton from Winter Park (FL) Truck 61 came up with this tool carrying method. This particular method allows for two tools (halligan and rotary saw) to be carried with only one hand. The halligan is put in place by simply placing the adz on top of the blade guard with the pike along the side of the guard. The handle of the halligan then rests on top of the saw motor housing. The vibration springs on the handle hold enough downward pressure on the halligan to hold it in place. As mentioned earlier this method works well when carrying the saw by hand and will not work with a saw slung over the shoulder. There are many situations when a rotary saw and a halligan are needed together, this method frees up a hand to carry other tools. It may not work with different brands of saws, but works well with the Partner 950/960 series as shown in the photos.

Two-Firefighter Carry Technique

Captain Daniel Troxell from DCFD Truck Company 6 sent in this ladder carrying tip. This technique is useful for an outside vent team that needs to transport ladders and tools to a rear position that may be inaccessible for the apparatus. Each member removes a ladder from the either side of apparatus and places them side by side. The hooks are stored already attached to the ladders, similar to what was shown in a post titled DCFD Hook & Ladder a few months back. The ladders are placed on their beams, and each member gets in-between the ladders. The Halligan bar is placed as shown, with the pike end stuck in one of the rung holes on the top beam. Then the ladders are transported to the desired location. Upon arrival, the tools are then removed and laid on the ground, and the ladders are raised into position.

Another Hook & Ladder Technique

Joe Brown from DCFD Truck Company 17 sent in this tip that works well for truck companies with side mounted ladders. Although we have another version on the site , the first time Joe saw hooks mounted to the ladder came from several DCFD’s mid-city truck companies. He noticed it on DCFD Truck Company’s 4 (Shaw) and 6 (Columbia Heights). These companies utilized a design that used two spring loaded clips, one on the tip of the hook and another towards the bottom. The crew from Truck 17 expanded on the original idea and came up with what they feel is the quickest, most efficient way so far. Joe said that if they see something better, they will adjust. He went on to say that he feels that it should be the nature of all companies out there; any good company should be a combination of the best ideas from others around the nation tailored to the individual needs and response area of the company. The 24ft and 30ft ladders mounted on the sides of the apparatus both received ceiling hooks securely mounted to the tip. The tip of the hook slides snuggly through the opening in the tip plate of the ladder as shown above. The hooks are secured at the top by a webbing strap with tension clip. This clip is large enough to be depressed while wearing structural firefighting gloves and the metal clip has been bent around the shape of the hook so it may be firmly tightened against the ladder when reattaching as shown below. The clip’s webbing is trimmed to a length that allows for it to be tightened easily, but not so long that it takes additional effort when attempting to deploy the hook. Also, as apposed to placing the strap on the very tip of the ladder, theirs is placed on the second rung from the tip. This allows the firefighter to remove the hook well below from the broken glass and fire conditions that may be present at the ladder tip. The hooks are secured at the bottom by a fixed metal ring as shown below; this allows for ease of use during firefighting operations, one strap is faster (and easier) then two. The large metal ring is known as a bull-ring and can be found at many hardware or tractor supply stores.

Ok, so there are some pics of different techniques to carry some tools and hopefully make us speedier and more efficient. Now let’s take a look at some videos of techniques to carry and throw ladders.

DCFD Truck 17 and Traditions Training Outside Vent

Northwest Washington FOOLS Ladder Packages

Plano Texas Ladder 1 Two-man Ladder and Tool Carry

Nashville Truck 3’s Efficient Ladder Work

Ryan Archer and Bellingham Fire’s One-man Carry to Slam with Tools

One-Man Over the shoulder 24-foot Ladder Throw

Northwest Washington FOOLS One-Man 28-foot Three Section Ladder Throw

Sacramento Fire Department 2-Person 35-Foot Ladder Throw


I hope that you may have seen something that you might not have seen or been trained in before. Obviously, I wouldn’t advocate watching one of these movies or reading the descriptions under the pictures and attempt to go out and do it alone. Grab some other guys, watch the videos, research the pics, try it together using all your safety gear. Some of these techniques are pretty physically demanding. Maybe physical fitness is where you need to start? Maybe you need to start with just getting comfortable with the regular throws? Whatever it is, go practice and get ready for the next one.

Be safe!


2 comments on “More With Less

  1. If I get injured performing these tasks in an unorthodox manner, will I be covered by my department’s insurance? 😉 Just pickin’ Sledge.

    I hate teaching FFI and FFII classes, building a basic foundation of skills for a person to employ on the fireground, then having to say,

    “Okay, that crap works in a perfect world with unlimited staffing and competency of all members on the fire ground. Unlearn it. We are shorthanded, understaffed, and not all “firefighters” on the scene are true firemen (no slam on the ladies, don’t get bent outta shape) In today’s fire service, more than less is becoming the norm, so you’ve got to learn how to perform tasks with 2 people that were meant be done with 4. Guess what guys, it can be done safely! Honestly, how many of you are going to tell a victim at a 3rd floor window you can’t get the 35′ ladder to them because you are riding short that day? Nobody. Learn to do it with 2. Here’s how.”

    Usually in a class of 30 students, 28 look at me like I have lobsters crawling out of my ears. But those 2 that get what I’m saying…Ah…they’ll make the difference! Keep up the good work bro!


  2. […] It seems as if lately we are being asked to do more with less almost on a daily basis. Less money, l… Share […]


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