Training Class Does Pompier Ladder Training

Providence (RI) 49th Training Academy
By Captain/Director of Training Scott Mello

The Providence Fire Department started the 49th Training Academy class on March 11, 2013. Candidates were competitively selected from more than 2900 applicants. Basis for selection was the candidate’s written score and a passing completion of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Candidates Physical Ability Test (CPAT). Fifty-five candidates were selected to attend the 49th Training Academy class..

On March 18, 2013, the 55 trainees and eight Providence Fire Department instructors, under the direction of Captain Scott G. Mello, the Director of Training for the Providence Fire Department, traveled to Boston, Massachusetts. The 49th Training Academy class had a unique opportunity to use the Boston Fire Department’s Training Facility located on Moon Island, in Quincy Massachusetts. The training was a collaborative effort between the Providence Fire Department’s Division of Training and the Boston Fire Department’s Division of Training led by Captain James Hoar.

The Providence Trainees would be given the opportunity to carry on a tradition that all previous Providence Fire Department Training Academies had performed. That tradition is the pompier ladder climb. The pompier ladder, or “pomps” as the Boston Jakes call the ladder, is also known as a scaling ladder. The ladder serves no other purpose than that of training. It consists of a single beam, a gooseneck and hook at the top of the ladder, with small rungs extending from either side of the single beam. It has been reported that only three northeast fire departments still require trainees to perform a pompier ladder climb.

IAFF Local 799 President Paul Doughty called the climb a “rite of passage” that few fire fighters can claim they have participated in. The purpose of the climb is to get trainees to trust their equipment and weed out any candidates who have an aversion to heights.

Each trainee was required to perform a five-story single person climb. Each climb required personal fortitude and upper-body strength. The trainee had to climb out onto the pompier on the second floor window, where they were instructed to hook into the gooseneck of the pompier, with a ladder belt. Then the trainee had to lean back and upon order from the drill master put his arms out to a horizontal position. Upon direction, the trainee would then place “arms in. Unhook and climb one.” The trainee would then climb in the window, raise the ladder up to the next floor and hook the ladder on the sill above, and climb up the ladder where the process of “hooking in” was done once again. The process required the trainee to climb up to the fifth floor, then repeat the process and return to the second floor.

The training occurred over the course of three days and included instructions in pompier ladders, rope repelling, ladder evolutions, and vertical ventilation with various gas powered saws. Trainees received instruction from both Boston and Providence Fire Instructors.

After the completion of the pompier ladder training, the 49th Trainees will receive an additional 18 weeks of instruction. The trainees will receive instruction in the Nation Fire Protection Association 1001, Level 1 Level 2 Fire Fighter certification, Providence Fire Departments Standard Operation Procedures and Training Bulletins, Emergency Medical Technician Intermediate Level certification, Hazardous Material Technician certification, and Emergency Vehicle Operation Course certification.