The Scaling Ladder was an important part of our Life Saving arsenal but it was removed from service against the advice of many.
Our site member - John Gage - was also part of a successful scaling ladder rescue effort at a building fire in Washington, DC, while a proby with the DFCD.
I have a question about E71/L55 old house on Park Ave. It looks like there is a bay that fronts on to 159 St. Did the battalion come out of there? It appears that due to the slope of the street the 159 St bay would be a floor below the main apparatus floor. If the battalion did respond from there I assume the chief and aid had to run downstairs to turn out. Seems to be kind of an odd set up. I also didn't realize 71/55 were in this house until 1989 so pretty much through the war years. I thought they had moved to Melrose much earlier.
A gentleman? Thanks Willy for the recognition, yes in DCFD 1982 I was operating 2nd due in the alley of 17th Street for a fire in an apartment house. When my company E 21 pulled up a woman was screaming from the fourth floor. There ws a 35' portable ladder placed against the building but it was too short. Since we were an engine and preparing to stretch a line, another firefighter from L 3, Joe, rounded the corner of the building with the scaling ladder. The covering boss of E 21, Sgt Ketcham ordered me to help the firefighter who was struggling with the 12 foot ladder. He started to climb, I followed and grabbed the bottem as he climbed with the gooseneck in hand. We reached the third floor and he hooked the ladder into the fourth floor apartment and started to climb, I was right behind him.
When he reached the screaming woman on the 4th floor, he entered her apartment, I reached the top of the ladder and all I could see was the legs of the woman as she started to evacuate, her legs almost knocking off my head as she climbed onto the ladder. I proceeded to grasp the rungs around her, she was rather large, and I was just able to hold onto the edge of the ladder rungs as she and I descended. I had on my pull up boots and the rungs of the ladder felt very small. We descended to the third floor, the window was intact and I kicked it in, then pushed the woman inside followed by the fireman from L 3.
Since she was safe and sound, I climbed back down the 35' portable ladder, thought nothing of it, and worked with my E 21 crew. I went off that following morning, and to my surprise this firefighter was all over the local news network doing interviews. He, deservedly so, received the highest honor of the DCFD a "Gold Bar". I went to "a bar", then received a Chief Commendation. A remarkable memory of my time with the DCFD, the last time a scaling ladder was ever used to effect a sucessful rescue.
Thanks for remembering.