Many new products are introduced each year into the fire service. Many claim to reduce firefighter injuries and death. I was just made aware of a new product that I think will do both. Sometimes I am cynical, as most firefighters are, on whether a certain product will work and will have a lasting effect. After seeing the operation of LadderLight, I was wondering why someone had not invented something like this in the past.
Just what is LadderLight? It’s a simple add on to the end of a ladder that will show the location of a ladder on a windowsill or show the edge of the roof of a building. Many of us know the feeling when getting off a ladder onto a roof or jumping into a window doing a search. In a smoky environment, will we be able to find our way back the same way in a hurry? LadderLight takes the guesswork away.
Developed by Ryan Stout, a former firefighter with the El Paso and Austin fire departments in Texas, LadderLight was conceived of after a life changing event. “While performing a nighttime ladder operation, an evacuation call was given. Amidst the smoke and chaos, I was unable to discern the location of my ground ladder,” explains Ryan. “After a frantic scan of the roofline, it was too late. The structure below my feet had given way. After a year of surgery and rehab, I was no longer fit for duty”
Ryan designed the product on a napkin and showed it to Rick Westervelt, the eventual CEO of the company, who was introduced by an attorney friend. He talked to Rick about the idea and was very passionate about getting the product out there and making sure that it works and will last. “I just want this product on ladders. LadderLight is going to save lives. There is a firefighter this year who is going to go home not ever knowing he might not have made it home to see his kids and family. That’s why I am committed to seeing the product succeed,” Rick says.
A year long process after hiring an engineering team to actually design and test the product showed some flaws in the lab. The team looked at Natinoal Fire Protection Assocaition ladder standards and also military standards and gained more insight and some improvements to the product. It was also field tested in Travis County, Texas, with great results.
The way this works is that you take off the existing end caps of ground ladders. You install LadderLight where the end caps existed with rivets. Then, an internal gyroscope detects ladder angle to turn lights on and off automatically. An array of a strobing green LEDs are positioned for visibility on the roof, and high –intensity white LED lights angle downward to illuminate obstacles. Made of die cast aluminum, LadderLight installs in minutes with no additional parts or protrusions. It operates on a standard nine-volt battery, which will last for 12 hours when used. There is a test button that can be used for daily maintenance issues. When the ladder is stowed on an apparatus the light is automatically off. There are no buttons to turn this product on, it will work instantaneously.
Ryan now helps with marketing efforts and is staying involved with other firefighter advisors. “Right now, we are making sure we have a jump on ground ladders,” states Rick. “Maybe in the future, we will have this product expand. Right now, the product is being sold directly from our company, but we are looking for dealers throughout the country presently.”
There you have it. A simple product, in my opinion, that will work, and I know will save firefighter lives when using it. Plain and simple.
They have a great Web site (www.ladderlight.com) with a video. Take a look at it and see what you think.