How to Determine the Ladder Length You Need to Carry on Your Fire Truck

Jon's Mid America

When it comes to purchasing rescue tools like ladders for your fire truck, you’ll want to take the time to carefully consider the needs of your rig and firefighters to ensure you get the perfect fit. 

The length of the ladder you’ll need will depend on the following factors:

  • NFPA 1901 and local ISO recommendations
  • Ground ladder capabilities
  • Past performance of previous ladders
  • Location and physical space the ladder requires
  • Existing demographics and anticipated development

Let’s take a closer look at each of these factors to help you determine what length ladder you need on your fire truck.

Factor #1: NFPA 1901 and local ISO recommendations

A good starting point is to check the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1901 for recommendations, as they make several recommendations regarding ladder sizes. However, they just provide a minimum standard, so you should also check the Insurance Services Office (ISO) Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS), which establishes quantities and types of ground ladders to be carried on various types of apparatus and which ladders work for your fire trucks.

Factor #2: Ground ladder capabilities

Before purchasing, fire departments should consider a ground ladder’s capabilities and the department’s procedures for using them. For example, if a firefighter needs to reach the second floor of a dwelling, they may automatically reach for the 24-foot two-section extension ladder. However, this can weigh about 70 pounds and will extend 14-feet while closed. Comparatively, a 14-foot ladder will get the job done but weighs much less than the extension ladder and is easier and faster for one firefighter to deploy.

Factor #3: Past performance of previous ladders

Fire departments should take into consideration the NFPA 1901 considerations and local ISO recommendations, but even more importantly, they should also consider the past performance of previous ladders they’ve had. If ladder truck service is available, smaller ladders may get the job done, while other departments may need larger ones too.

Factor #4: Location and physical space the ladder requires

Depending on the rigs being used, a fire department should also consider the location on the rig where the ladder will be stored and also the amount of space it will require to store. Lighter ladders are easier to deploy and they also take up less room on the rig. However, your department may need larger ladders with more capabilities and reach.

Factor #5: Existing demographics and anticipated development

Demographics will vary from community to community, so before purchasing a ladder, fire departments should consider the existing demographics and any anticipated development, especially if replacement schedules are in the 25 to 30-year range. Not considering the future could put any department in a major bind.

Purchase rescue tools for your fire truck

At Jon’s Mid-America Fire Apparatus, we sell high-quality rescue tools to meet your needs. You may need a ladder truck in your fleet in addition to ladders for your crew. We have a few of those! Contact Jon’s Mid-America online to start the conversation, or call (417) 887-0534 in Southwest Missouri or (816) 625-1286 in the Kansas City area.

Hydraulic rescue tools on the ground next to a cargold and black power tool fire apparatus