At the age of 55 I decided to become a volunteer firefighter. I’m 56 now. So I’m taking training along with guys from all over the island who are young enough to be my sons–or grandsons, I suppose. A few weeks ago on a crisp Sunday morning I had to pass my practicum in ladders. How to: carry, set up and take down ladders of various sizes in one man, two man, three man teams; place & climb a roof ladder; carry a 105 lb. dummy down a ladder. And, demonstrate a leg lock:
Per the internets, the Vancouver fire department defines a leg lock thusly:
A leg lock is a way of hooking a leg onto the ladder so that a firefighter can work safely from the ladder with his/her hands free while eliminating the danger of falling.
If a leg lock is not used, a firefighter must have at least one hand free to hold on to the ladder beam. No exceptions.
To perform, say, a right leg lock, you:
- step your left leg up one rung higher than you want to be
- put your right foot through the opening
- bend your right leg back and through the opening below and
- hook your right foot around the right rail
- step down one rung with your left leg
and Bob’s your uncle.
From another fire department on the internets, we get this explanation of the ladder climb evaluation:
Purpose: to assess the applicant for fear of heights.
A 40 firefighting PFRS ladder will be erected in a safe and secure location. A department member will demonstrate a climb to a point half way up the ladder, do a leg lock and return to ground level.
Each applicant will be warned to stop if they experience difficulty when doing the exercise. Each applicant will then don a department turnout coat and SCBA (no face piece), climb the ladder to the same point as in the demonstration, do a leg lock and return to ground level.
The applicant will be rated “pass/fail”. PFRS evaluators will note any hesitation or difficulty of the applicant in performing the task.
Our test was a little different. We had to climb with an axe, do a leg lock, and pantomime using the axe to smash a window.
During my evaluation, I got into a scary situation.