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Must see video: Ground ladder gives way dropping vertical vent crew to the ground.

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This was a fire Saturday at  1685 Rue Notre-Dame in Saint-Sulpice, Quebec. The two firefighters on the garage roof come crashing down at about :50 into the video. No word on their injuries. Thanks to a reader Mike St. Clair for sending this one our way.

Here are some details about the fire.

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Comments - Add Yours

  • Anonymous

    I was involved in an incident similar to this at our station while trying to reach the top of a garage door for maintenance when the ladder kicked out and injured myself and another firefighter – it was in part due to stupidity on the part of several individuals (myself included). Fortunately we were all ok (just a little bruised up), but this is a scary scenario that is very preventable, and we definitely learned from it. I hope these brothers are ok and are able to get back on the rigs soon, and learn from this.

    • Doing it.

      Cool story bro. Next time save it for facebook.

      • Crowbar

        You might think about doing the same “Doing it.”

  • Dominick D’Alisera

    House was already vented. No need to vent the garage. Every ladder should be footed, especially when you get off the rig and you see snow all over the place. I hope the guys are ok. Wondering if anyone got cut with the saw?

    • Black helmet

      What about RIT? Everyone stopped what they were doing to check on the firefighters that just fell.

  • Anonymous

    I would love to have a copy of this video to use when teaching ladder skills. This is a good reminder of why we need those basic skills. However most of us know that we have done the same thing before only difference is we were lucky and got away with it.
    If you know how I could get a copy I would greatly appreciate it.

  • greg loftus

    I am not a firefighter but but a couple of stints as a volunteer firefighter on the DEWline while working there. I thought it was funny to be venting the garage and wondered why the was no support crew at the ladde r base. Worked a lot with ladders and I always have someone there. Was just gald to seee that many saw the same things I did. thnks unfortunate that it happened but everyone is alll right and lesson learned. Thanks, Greg

    • Anonymous

      Use wmcapture, it will capture the sound and video of anything u display on your computer screen no matter what format. I use it regularly to capture fd videos for my students

  • AT

    It looks like fire is burning in the attic above the garage, judging by the crew in the garage. It looks like they are opening up the ceiling. It looks like it could be a fire running the entire attic through the house, and they are trying to make a stop in the garage. Regardless of whether they should or shouldn’t vent it is poor ladder work. I don’t see the purpose of working off the main ladder, when you have a roof ladder right next to you. I mean why throw the ladder if you’re not going to use it. Take this as a lesson and get back to training on the basics.

  • He

    Lesson #1. Risk vs Gain. Is what you are going to risk worth what you are going to gain. The answer here is painfully obvious.


    Hope the injuries aren’t serious.

    Now then, foot the freaking ladder!! Plenty of people standing around looking for something useful to do. Might be able to get away with it on soft ground, but certainly not on a snowy driveway.

  • RJ(in florida)

    i have to agree with the others and hope that they will recover from this. even as a seasoned veteran i still have a respect for heights and ladders and allways insisted on somebody footing when anybody was going up or down. there were others standing near that could have did that, but we all get tunnel vison and i hope the incident will become a tactical learning expierence

  • mark

    First off, hope the brothers are OK.

    Second, what in God’s green earth were they thinking? Even without debating the merits of venting a (possibly) lightweight constructed roof that was already vented, the ladder work was atrocious. A ladder on concrete with snow present, not at the greatest angle, and nobody footing or heeling it? Really?

    You can bet the saw man crapped his bunkers thinking about that RUNNING saw coming down on top of him.

  • Anonymous

    The roof is burned off already! The house is a total loss and we are trying to cut a 2 x 2 vent hole in the roof and operating a small handline at the front door! Go defensive and put some big lines or a tower ladder on it. Think Brothers! Stay Safe!

  • No Name

    Fire through the roof it was already vented. Two people on same fly is a no no. Why couldnt they have grabbed a piece of rope and tied back to the support collumn dividing the two garage doors? Especially on an icy snow covered day. Big fire here, notice inside on delta quadrant is off. And we are worried about pulling ceiling in an attached empty garage…

    Good training video. Piss poor work. Hopefully they recover well and thank god the running saw didnt come down on them.

    • He

      Excellent idea, tying off to the column. I put that in my bag o’ tricks.

  • Mike Hise

    This is the absolute stupidest and most reckless thing I have ever seen! The worst part is that the two FF themselves surely knew better, but the video shows several people, including what looked like two officers walk right by the base of the ladder and never said a word! This is just a blatant case of gross negligence and I pray that neither man was seriously hurt!

    • JW

      If they knew better, they wouldn’t have done it in the first place.

  • Rudedawg

    If during the course of firefighting, you ask yourself; “Why am I doing this?” Chances are you or someone else will get hurt shortly afterward. We got to start thinking.

  • Mack Seagrave

    This type of ground ladder does not have skid resistant rubber feet like many typical pumper ladders as well as ladders made for homeowner use do. These ladders have hard metal narrow edges for feet. They are known for falling as seen in this video when placed on concrete with the personnel operating near the tip. If not being butted by a firefighter or against a strong, immovable object, they frequently will fall in very much the manner seen in the photo. They only seem to be safe to work on (if not butted) when they are placed upon a soft surface that the edge can dig into. I know of two guys from my department over the years who fell while using this type of ladder when it was placed on concrete with no butt. In both incidents the firefighters were climbing from the ladder tip into a window to perform a primary search when the ladder slid along the concrete and fell, serious injuries resulted in both instances.

  • D. Schaefer

    I can remember that Is one of the first things we were taught is no matter what size the ladder to have some kind of support when someone is going up or down even tying off if on one is available something can happen such as this . I hope that they are ok.

  • Rod Fraser

    If city councils continue to cut FD budgets and reduce manpower, this could be a continuing theme. Engine and ladder companies are being cut back all the time. Who is left to foot the ladder? In this situation, clearly the fire had vented itself, so why bother? And firefighters standing around in the garage? One of them could have footed the ladder.

    • JW

      Don’t blame this on budget cuts. Footing the ladder wasn’t necessary because no one should have been going up on that roof with the conditions at hand.

  • Former Chief

    Hope the Brothers are OK. And we wonder why we still injure and kill far too many Firefighters every year when we continue to fail the basics such as footing a ladder.

  • EngineBoss

    Yeah first and foremost I hope that the guys are alright. Bad enough to take the fall, then only to be hit by the freaking saw. That could very well not only be a career ending injury, but one that makes the rest of your life a little more difficult.

    As for the WTF moment… amazing how many guys suddenly appeared to help. Maybe instead of walking around snapping pictures or video for facebook or twitter or whatever else, someone could have actually footed the ladder. I guess standing at the base of a ladder isn’t so glorious and you can’t be in there doing it if you’re stuck at the base of the ladder.

    Aside from that, this is one of those McMansions that is a loss when you pull up. You cannot stop the fire in the attic space without big water. Hooking ceilings from underneath is asking to get caught in a collapse. The houses are not designed or built to resist fire. Talk about fire rated drywall and firestopping all you want, but a house full of todays highly combustible materials that burn so hot and so quick, and large open floor plans, along with the fact that hardly anyone sprinklers houses, and they all leave their interior doors open, you can just kiss the place goodbye. You just can’t get enough water on well advanced fires in these places fast enough to prevent the rapid spread.

    So here we are at one of these houses. It’s gone. Stop it at the garage? For what? So they can park their car there and go through the door and see whats left of their house in the basement? Stand back and look at the big picture. Garage is concrete floor and a couple walls. You want to do some good? Grab a couple guys and try and pull some valuables out or cover stuff up. Sending someone up a ladder to cut a hole in a roof that is going to self vent as the fire comes across it is a waste of manpower, and sending someone up on a peaked roof covered in ice and snow on a ladder that nobody even cares enough to foot is asking to get guys hurt, and this is a perfect example.

    I know we all make mistakes, but these giant houses for some reasons get guys caught up in thinking they need do do more because of their value. Unfortunately the trades lobbyists aren’t fighting for firefighter safety when they’re throwing money at politicians, and hardly anyone is thinking about true firewalls or sprinklers or anything about fire when they go house shopping.

  • Matthew Stone

    What about the fact that the guy venting is standing on the rungs above the roof, even with a someone footing the ladder that is a no,no. Also this is not the time to train as was mentioned in another post. Protect the exposures, get some hose lines running with proper pressure. I am not sure the snow had anything to do with this, yes there could be ice there, but the foot of the ladder would dig through the snow into the pavement. Its all about friction on the ground, that fulcrum point at the roof line and common since, foot the ladder and do not stand on the top of the ladder.

  • John W

    Lets hope only egos and pride where hurt, but this is a C’mon moment. Train train train

  • GL Bowker

    Ok, lets look at the bigger picture here. What are we doing on the roof trying to vent in the first place? This was very likely a light weight roof, well involved in fire, that is already venting! Risk vs. Gain.Obviously, proper laddering needs to be practiced, but this was absolutely preventable. Tunnel vision has to be garded against by all. Hope our brothers werent seriously injured.

  • Anonymous

    Not everyone has the resources to have ‘support crews’ at the bottom of the ladder. Maybe if we had less monday-morning quarterbacks and more firemen we wouldnt have these problems.

    • CHAOS

      Watch the video again. As others have mentioned also, there are plenty of bodies or “support crews” in view not doing anything else useful.
      Of course, maybe if there were more smart firemen there, somebody might have called “BS” on the idea of going up to ventilate a lightweight roof that was already self-venting. If you have to hustle to get the vent hole cut because the fire is closing on, just maybe you don’t need to be there in the first place. And, if there was really a need to go up on a snow covered pitched roof, one more fireman might have been enough to carry over a roof ladder.

    • MIke St.Clair

      There were lots of guys at this call. The bigger question is WHY were they ON the ladder??

    • mark

      Well then, they shouldn’t be up on the roof then, because we see the results.

      Not to mention, any one of about 10 other firemen standing aroundwalking around could have just grabbed it for them or tied it off for them or could have questioned the entire concept of venting this part of the roof to begin with.

      Besides, it’s Tuesday where I’m at.

    • JW

      Oh stop already with the monday morning quarterback crap. Face it, they did a poor job. And if they don’t have enough ‘support crews’ as you put it, then they have to figure out a safer way to accomplish their task (not that they should have been going up to vent this roof in the first place).

  • Howard Cosell

    “down goes Fraizer…down goes Fraizer” Did ya really need to be up on the roof? Looks pretty well vented to me!

  • Ciampos Pal

    On footing ladders..

    Too many places teaching it improperly, as in doing it from between the ladder and the building. In this position the member footing cannot see changing conditions of the smoke or the building failing if he’s facing away. He can’t break the fall of his Brother if he slips ( there’s a you tube video showing that one). If behind the ladder, he may watch a victim fall down the ladder also. If the member ascending the ladder drops his tool with the footer underneath,it’s harder to avoid than if in the front. Glass showering can occur from both sides as well as falling air conditioners. Finally, the muscles of the chest “pushing” the ladder instead of the lars while “pulling” the ladder are usually much stronger.

    • Anonymous

      great comments – our instructors stressed footing from the front for these same reasons

  • OldSutterOne

    I look at this and a number of other videos and look for “lessons learned”. But like the comedian Ron White says “You can’t fix stupid”. Someone needs to be held accountable.

  • Jeff

    Here in France, a firefighter always stands between the ladder and the wall (or behind the ladder if no wall) and holds the ladder by putting his weight back… why not in the USA ?…

    • Fire21

      Jeff, it’s almost always done here in the USA. This video happens to be from Quebec, Canada.

  • My Mom

    Is this in Pennsylvania? Sorry, i couldn’t resist!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • 1stAlarmTankerTaskForce

      I can’t stop LOL-ing

      • 1stAlarmTankerTaskForce

        Great Joke!

  • 1stAlarmTankerTaskForce

    It’s funny because they’re Canadian



  • @ElwoodBluez

    Look at the angle that ladder was placed at. That thing was going to slide out regardless of someone footing it. I hope they are OK.

  • fedup

    This really doesn’t have much to do with footing a ladder at all. Id you step on a rung above the roof line, the feet are almost certain to slide out! Its simple physics you went from standing on one side of the sea-saw to the other. On icy pavement like that the guy footing the ladder is just going to suddenly have to counterbalance the force probably wind up slipping and falling on his ass and having the guy on the ladder fall on top of him. There is a simple firefighter one lesson here and that is to never step on a ladder rung that is higher then the roof line. We teach 3-5 rungs above the roof, but that is for orientation on the roof and to give you something to hold onto for balance, not to step on!

  • fedup

    Another perfect example….firefighter steps above the roof line…whammo

  • Randy – 31 year volunteer FF

    No one anchoring the ladder, ladder at an improper angle, (to flat) and why was he on the roof without making use of the roof ladder that was leaning there?

  • Mike

    Why are they even venting the roof? The rest of the roof is burned off, not like they are gonna save anything. Gotta remember to have the ladder maybe tied into something at the base when dealing with icy ground or have someone heel the ladder.

  • serge


  • Scott

    Like said above. in this case w/ the icey drive and the position of the FF up so high, I’m not even sure footing the ladder in this case would have prevented it. It still could have slipped out and taken another FF as well.
    I hope those guys are ok, but that was a tremendous hit on the concrete. WOW.

  • Tim

    Maybe it’s just me, but why is there so much standing around. No hustle in anyone at the scene. The slowest response to a fire of that magnitude I’ve seen! I agree with all the other comments above on the footing of the ladder etc. but there are also some serious tactical flaws. Big fire big water. The only water I saw was a very small handline around the area of the front door. And as far as resources go there is a ton of guys with no apparant job just wandering around. Hardly a professional operation.

  • IDLH

    These guys suck plain and simple. Where is their IC and what strategy were they exactly using there? Amateur hour to say the least.

  • Crowbar

    So nobody is going to mention the one-handed chain saw technique?

    • mark

      There were several mentions of it.

      At least several that I see.

  • Anonymous

    Use this as a reminder as to why you always foot the ladder andor tie it off.

  • Ray McCormack

    Maybe video is the ultimate training weapon. Instant classic. Get well – trained.

  • Eric

    Where was the safety officer? How about the two cheifs in the video, why would they even allow those to go up there and attempt ventilation to a loosing battle in a fulley involved Fire involving lightweight construction. As one guy mentioned earlier, the fight was over as soon as they arrived onscene. Let’s not forget that, and not focus on whether they footed the ladder or not. That isn’t the issue. Those two cheifs should should have known better than to have those firemen up there. From the video, there wasn’t anything to save.

  • Capt. Robert Rainey

    Great dialog of the whole operation. This building is LOST what are they doing on the roof? Why is there not at least a roof ladder? I spent 31 years with the F.D.N.Y. The F.D.N.Y. does not let firefighters operate on peaked roofs, no matter what the pitch is, unlees they are teathered to a Tower Ladder basket. Anyone who does not how to properly and safely operate on any roof do not belong on that roof. The worse the fire the more important an operational safety officer is needed. I now have over 40 years of experance and it is sad to see the same mistakes done over and over again. Experance is the name we give our mistakes. Capt. Bob Rainey F.D.N.Y. Retired.