When do you need a roof ladder on the roof?


How about the Haligan and Ladder? Good Stuff. Photo by: Mike Posner, MDFR


Photo by Steve Clark

Do we always need a roof ladder? Does it really help with safety? What does it do for us? What does it not do for us? How does construction effect its use? Do we need two ladders to the roof?

12 thoughts on “When do you need a roof ladder on the roof?

  1. If you have to use it to stay on the roof then it helps with safety. I find on a gentle pitch it is a trip hazard. Fire conditions also figure into the decision as well.

  2. Obviously stick with your SOP’s. My opinion is that if the pitch is such that you can walk on the roof, then a roof ladder is not needed and actually slows the operation down. If we are worried about the structural integrity of the roof, and that is the reason for the roof ladder, then questioning if we should even be on the roof is more of an issue to me. I would love to see an answer from Mike Ciampo who I think has a very respectable opinion on truck co. operations. With less then 10 years in the fire service, I’d love to see some other thoughts on this as well.

  3. Do we always need a roof ladder? I learned a long time ago there is no always when it comes to tactics. We need to be smart with every tactic we perform by looking at the skill, conditions and level of complexity compared to the crew’s experience.
    Does it really help with safety? Yes. Roof ladder’s do enhance safety when utilized in the manner they are designed. Yes, they can be a “trip hazard” yes they can increase the amount of time to get the roof opened (if you are not proficient) which is a decrease in safe operations. However If you are proficient and have trained it can be deployed quickly and you will have a place of refuge when the conditions change. Not if the conditions change but when! Remember opening the roof will draw the smoke, heat, fire out of the hole creating a changed condition to the roof area.
    What does it do for us? It provides an area of refuge when conditions change. it provides a platform to work from on steep, slippery or weak roofs, it disperses our weight load, (all roofs are not built the same and some are in poor condition well before the fire)
    What does it not do for us? Guarantee we will not slip, trip or fall through the roof. We still must pay attention to the fire conditions, construction features, overall integrity of the roof.
    How does construction effect it’s use? In attempting to keep this to a brief response – Construction features highly affect the use. However remember roof ladders are not just for pitched roofs.
    Do we need two ladders to the roof? Yes. Having Two ladders to the roof should be a standard practice as it provides you with a secondary means of egress. I will look for the clips and post them here. But there is a great example from Boston Fire Dept. with very experienced FF’s who know and are very good at what they do. They were operating on a flat commercial building roof when their one means of egress was blocked. They had to physically throw their equipment to the exposure roof (saw bounced and rolled right off the other side) and the brothers had to make a hasty bail onto a straight stick as conditions changed quickly. There is also another clip I have peaked roof private dwelling, 1 ground ladder, heavy fire second floor vents and free burns from large windows completely blocking the 2 FF’s. It happens to the best as conditions will always change. You must be prepared for another means of egress.
    P.S. I would to also love to hear Ciampo’s reply!

  4. I agree with the previous posts but would like to add that not only to follow your SOP/SOG’s but use your HEAD. If its been raining, or in my case snowing, your footing on the roof is not going to be the greatest. If you dont want to throw a roof ladder due to you thinking its not a steep enough incline why dont you spike the haligan tool in the roof just for an added foot brace? We rely too much on the main tools and not enough on our secondary tools.

  5. All of these responses are right on, however knowing your district is also a valid consideration of your operational tactic. Where I work in our “downtown” district most of the residential homes are low pitch(8ft), older construction, easy up easy down. 2nd story is typical for 2 ladders as well as steeper pitches rain etc. but knowing the construction can dictate a “risk” of not using a roof ladder. Personally I think it does slow down the rapid nature of a roof vent on a single story. Not that this tactic is for every residential or is how everyone should do it, but you should tailor it to your own area. That first photo is nice too!

  6. Hey! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any problems with hackers? My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing a few months of hard work due to no backup. Do you have any methods to protect against hackers?Katy Roofing Contractor, 831 Comstock Springs Drive, #A, Katy, TX 77450 – (281) 829-8297

  7. Only for footing, on steep pitched roofs or ice covered. Makes no sense to be on a roof that needs a roofer to keep you from falling through, especially when you see the photo’s of guys leaning way out with all their weight on one foot, now that’s dangerous.

  8. in 2009 a ladder in the roof save my life, i were in the roof and in one second the roof collapsed, the smoke didnt let me see anything but the ladder was there and directed me to the ground ladder, i think in that changing conditions a ladder must be your only way out, especially when you cant see, and if you see videos about roof accidents many times a ladder in the roof could be the the difference between life or death.

Comments are closed.