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Light Up Your Way to Safety

By Ret FF George Borek & Ret Chief Charlie Lind, Jr., Correspondent | July 15, 2021 | NEW JERSEY

Story No. 071521102

This article was put together to bring awareness to why you should consider illuminating your portable ground ladders at a fire scene.

Many years ago, Ret. FF George Borek, Rescue 1 FDJC, saw a critical need to light up his second means of egress when portable ground ladders were raised to the roof or to windows below. George was an avid scuba diver and many of his training dives were done at night to help sharpen his skills in zero visibility as he dropped below the surface of the water. As he ascended with his dive team, they would drop a safety line into the water with waterproof divers strobe lights to help light their way and back to the surface.

FF Borek remarked how affective that beacon was underwater and decided to bring the concept to the surface and on to the fire ground. George took a carabiner and a diver’s strobe light and married them together. As he ascended to the roof via a portable ground ladder and once he transferred over onto the roof he would clip his strobe light on to a rung and activate the beacon, marking his means of egress.

FF Borek said he was glad that he had that light in his pocket on some smoky and nighttime fires in which the divers strobe light was the beacon of light back to safety. I have purchased this light as shown in the pictures online, and a carabiner from a local hardware store. NFPA 1931 requires that ladder rungs be 1 ¼ in thickness and may taper down to 1 1/8 at the ends.

(Side note): I purchased this larger carabiner for demonstration purposes, as it is easily deployed with a gloved hand and can be easily carried in your turnout coat pocket.

Training: Your department may want to look at building this into an SOP/SOG to be used on a regular basis at fire scenes. If your interior crews must make a hasty retreat to the nearest window, it might be a good idea to have one of these strobe lights attached to the exterior ground ladder to let them know there is a ladder outside that window.

Special thanks to Maywood Fire Department, along with Truck 17 for providing their equipment and manpower to help move this article forward into publication.

Acknowledgements: Chief Reiner, DC DeYoung, Captain Bahto, Lt. Scozzafava, FF Wescott, Keleshian, Febre, Fajvan and Golabek for their brotherhood.

Closing message: Safety should be paramount while operating on the fire ground and an all-out effort must be made to make sure everyone gets home after a fire call or your tour of duty. This concept of Lighting Up Your Way to Safety should be just another tool for your toolbox and it may keep you out of a world of hurt. Please review photos provided by this writer and good luck.

Yours in the Fire Service,
George Borek and Charlie Lind, Jr.
Class of 1982 Jersey City Fire Department

This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.