In my previous section of this article we discussed using adjoin buildings to get to the roof. Now we will concentrate on the next best way to get to the roof.
Ladders are the second best way to access the roof. The use of aerial ladders, either a platform or a straight stick laddered to the roof will get you topside quicker than throwing an extension ladder to the roof. There are a few key items that need to be looked for when placing ladders to the roof.
OVER HEAD OBSTRUCTIONS
Over head obstructions, most importantly power lines as well as phone and cables lines must be avoided at all costs. Contact with these lines at the least will cause you issues. The most severe issue is electrocution. Power lines have been known to arc and they follow the path of least resistance to the ground. Contact with wires by an aerial ladder or ground ladder will at least cause damage or injury and the worst case scenario is death of a firefighter or crew.
AVOID THE FLAMES
Place the ladder so it will not come into contact of with fire venting from the building especially if your task is to operate on the roof. Flame impingement on a ladder will weaken the ladder and potentially cause it to fail when a load is placed on it, for example climbing or descending the ladder. Set the ladder so the rungs extend 3 to 5 feet above the wall so it makes it easier to get on and off the ladder. While on the roof the extended rungs above the roof line provides a good reference point when operating.
When climbing any ladder we must remember to always maintain 3 points of contact at all times. This safety feature is essential to maintaining proper balance and control. When carrying tools to the roof its imperative to be conscious of any potential shift of weigh by the tool so that you can be prepared for it. So it does not cause us to slip and potentially fall.
Before exiting onto the roof; do a visual size-up and be sure to sound the roof. Sounding the roof gives you an indication if the roof is sturdy enough to operate on. Never jump onto the roof from the ladder. Jumping onto the roof from the ladder or platform will create a localized impact load in the place you land. If the roof was weak you may compromise that area and the rest of the roof. Almost nothing is scarier than hearing that a firefighter has fallen through the roof into the burning building. Be proactive and keep yourself and your crew safe.
When there is inclement weather always take extra caution when climbing on and off the ladder on the roof. If there is ice and snow, perform a risk / benefit analysis before setting foot on a roof top skating rink. The first step onto an icy roof may be your last.
Ladders both aerial and ground are great tools to get on the roof. Use of caution for both types is essential. Keep watching for Part 3 of the Series of Getting to the Roof Quickly, and Stay Safe.