For persons wanting to promote to engineer, there is a natural progression of apparatus certifications that they usually train for and obtain.
First comes the squad certs, usually completed within a year or two after coming off of probation. Then either engine certification or perhaps water tender certification. Eventually, the engineer wanna-be will have to address getting certified on the ladder trucks.
Our ladder certification is divided into two separate certs, front and rear. The rear focuses on tillering (of course) equipment and basic aerial operation while the front half certification is centered on driving the tractor, systems and thorough operational detail.
While on a visit to admin/training the other day, I found truck 2 at the tower, preparing their firefighter for certifying on the front of the tiller. I snapped a few pics and liked this one the best.
Steve, who is the engineer on the unit, is signaling the operator of the ladder to extend it onto the landing of the exterior stairway. The objective is to place the ladder past the rail of the landing and above it so that the ladder will not make contact with any part of the structure, even when loaded or when bouncing around as people climb it.
As it is very difficult to precisely determine how close the tip of the ladder is to the objective, a spotter is used to determine the proper extension. Communication is done through hand signals, the above photo depicts the hand signal for extend.
"Dinging" a ladder is a costly error, repairs aren't cheap and the ladder must be thoroughly inspected and tested, even for the smallest of dings. Spotters are cheap and save a lot of grief, that's why we use them when possible. As with tillering, communication between the crew members is vital, poor communication equals costly mistakes.
While perusing Dave Statter's Blog yesterday, I found a helmet-cam video showing San Bernardino City firefighters making an initial attack and rescue at a single family dwelling fire. The video pretty well captures that way initial attack is performed around here and shows the way to overcome chaos and the "fog of war". Strong work by the SBFD. Click on the above link and check it out.
San Bernardino is a similar sized city located just across the county line from us. The city is in a continuous state of economic strife and therefore sees a lot of fire. They had a pretty good apartment fire yesterday, if a video shows up I'll let you know.
Thanks for reading,