Is It Time For Your Annual NFPA Ladder Testing?

Jon's Mid America

Aerials are amazing pieces of equipment, able to reach heights that would otherwise be unattainable to rescue victims and spray water on tall buildings during a fire. While aerials offer a level of control in a fire, they also can come with an element of danger. Even those who are trained to use an aerial properly may run into issues like not having proper clearance to enter an area or accidentally operating with too much weight.

Not only can user error occur, there may also be problems with the aerial itself. If there hasn’t been a recent inspection, there is no way to tell if the aerial is structurally sound and able to be used during a fire or rescue.

The NFPA mandates that aerial ladders should be tested at least once each year with a more intensive test every five years. If it’s time for your aerial to be inspected, see what your next steps are.

Why does my aerial need to be inspected?

We get it — taking your aerial out of operation to be inspected can be a pain. If you’re unsure if it’s worth the time, we’ve listed some of the benefits of inspection for you:

  • Safety. Having an unsafe apparatus is just as good as having no apparatus at all. If you’re on a call and a firefighter or victim falls and is injured, you’ll have bigger trouble on the scene than there was before. Even worse, if it is determined that you skipped your inspection, your department may be found liable if someone is injured.
  • Cost-effective. Preventing issues before they become costly repairs is key to staying within your budget. Yearly inspections can help you find minor issues, allowing you to repair them on the spot instead of waiting until they become a massive problem.
  • Fulfilling requirements. First, as we stated earlier, the NFPA requires aerials to be inspected yearly in order to stay within their regulations. Your insurance may also require inspections to keep your premiums within a reasonable range.
  • Ensures operational status. You don’t want to wait until you’re out on a call to find out that your aerial is malfunctioning. Catching problems in advance means you’ll get more time using your aerial when it matters most, not stuck on the sidelines while you’re waiting for a time-consuming repair.

What happens during an aerial ladder test?

When your apparatus undergoes a ladder test, your inspector will be performing a visual check along with a documented operational test. During the test, they’ll check for:

  • Signs of metal fatigue
  • Properly operating hydraulic system
  • Visible defects
  • Damage
  • Any unsecured parts
  • Smooth and fluid movement of the aerial

Depending on the status of your aerial, you may be required to undergo a nondestructive test (NDT). This test examines the structural components of the aerial without damaging it, allowing you to get a clear picture of how well the aerial is operating. This should be done every five years, or any time that the aerial undergoes undue stress or is damaged. If this is required, check with your chief to determine your next steps.

Does your aerial need its annual test?

Contact Jon’s Mid America. We’re certified to perform your yearly testing, ensuring your aerial apparatus is safe to operate.