AMERICAN TEST CENTER
TEST & INSPECTION NATIONWIDE
Bucket Trucks
GROUND LADDERS
Properly maintained ladders are essential to the safe and economical operation of a fire department. Firefighters rely on the ladders to perform structurally and mechanically as intended.

WHEN SHOULD GROUND LADDERS BE TESTED?
NFPA 1932 contains the following requirements pertaining to frequency of ground ladder testing:

          a) At least annually

          b) Any time a ladder is suspected of being unsafe

          c) After the ladder has been subjected to overloading

          d) After the ladder has been subjected to impact loading or unusual conditions of use

          e) After heat exposure

          f) After any deficiencies have been repaired, unless the only repair was replacing the halyard.

          g) Before the ladder is placed in service for the first time


An annual inspection and test program uncovers many defects before they become major problems, thus resulting in better safety precautions and lower maintenance costs.

American Test Center will perform a thorough test and inspection at your site by a well-equipped two-person crew of non-destructive technicians who are experienced in structural testing. They are supported by a staff of engineers, ASNT NDT technicians and equipment specialists.


American Test Center performs the following tests and inspections:

I. STRUCTURAL

A. Visual Inspection: A complete visual inspection of:

1. Base Section--side rail condition, rail alignment, rung condition, rung to rail attachment, butt spurs/foot pads, ladder stops, stay poles, toggles, raid guides/lubrication.

2. Second Section--side rail condition, rail alignment, rung condition, rung to rail attachment, ladder stops, pawl operation and lubrication, rail guides/lubrication.

3. Third Section--side rail condition, rail alignment rung condition, rung to rail attachment, ladder stops, pawl operation and lubrication, rail guides/lubrication.

4. Fly Section: side rail condition, rail alignment, rung condition, rung to rail attachment, ladder stops, pawl operation and lubrication, rail guides/lubrication.

5. Halyard Condition--rope size and condition, anchors, thimbles, clamps, pulleys, and adjustment.

6. Roof Hooks--hook size, hook condition, operation and sharpness, hook housing and adjustment

7. General--heat sensor labels, NFPA 1931 certification, electrical hazard sticker, serial number identification, and ladder length marking within 12 inches of butt.

B. Hardness Testing: (Metal ground ladders only when needed) Heat affected (annealed) areas on aluminum ladders are not visible to the naked eye, thus it is necessary to perform a hardness test, or conductivity test, and a load test to determine its strength. The hardness service test is performed along the top and bottom of both beams.

C. Liquid Penetrant Testing: This test method is used on ground ladders made of aluminum material to verify discontinuities determined by visual inspection.


II. LOAD TESTS

A. Horizontal Bending Test: (For all ladders except pompier ladders)

The following test procedures are performed:

The ladder shall be placed in a flat, horizontal position supported under the first rung from each end of the ladder. Extension and combination ladders shall be extended to their maximum extended length with pawls engaged for this test.


1. Procedure of Metal and Fiberglass Ladders

Step 1. The ladder shall be loaded with a preload. The load shall be allowed to remain for at least one minute to “set” the ladder prior to completing the rest of the test.

Step 2. After removing the preload, the distance between the bottom edge of each side rail and the surface upon which the ladder supports are placed shall be measured. All measurements shall be taken at a consistent location and near as practical to the center of the ladder.

Step 3. The ladder test load shall be applied equally to the center span over a specified distance from the center. The test load shall remain in place for five minutes.

Step 4. The test load shall then be removed and the distance between the bottom of each side rail and surface upon which the ladder supports are placed shall be measured. Differences between measurements taken in Step 2 and Step 4 shall not exceed specifications. There shall be no visible permanent change or failure of any hardware.


2. Procedure for Wood Ground Ladders

The ladder shall be loaded with a test load applied equally to a center span covering the specified distance each side of the center. The test load shall remain in place for five minutes and then removed. To pass the test, the ladder and all components shall not show ultimate failure. Any ladder that fails the test shall be removed from fire service use and destroyed.

B. Ladder Hardware Test (Extension ladders only)

The ladder shall be extended approximately five rungs to apply a specially designed test fixture at each end of the ladder. The ladder locks must be in the set or locked position. The test load shall be applied for a minimum of one minute. Ladders shall sustain this test with no permanent deformation or other visible weakening of the structure.


     
C. Roof Ladder Hook Test (Ladders with roof hooks)
Apply the test load for a period of one minute to the roof hooks. The ladder and hooks shall sustain this test load with no permanent deformation or other visible weakening of the structure. Deformation to the hooks shall not exceed specifications. Note: Roof hooks should measure 3/4 inch diameter or 5/8 inch should be made of alloy steel.


D. Hardness Testing: (Metal ground ladders only when needed)
Heat affected (annealed) areas on aluminum ladders are not visible to the
naked eye, thus it is necessary to perform a hardness test, or conductivity test, and a load test to determine its strength. The hardness service test is performed along the top and bottom of both beams.


III. REPORTS

Test results for each ladder are listed on American Test Center’s test report forms. After the test, American Test Center technicians review the findings with the fire department representative and a signed and dated copy of each report is left with the fire department representative. Two copies are reviewed and signed by American Test Center’s professional engineers and one report is mailed to the fire department and American Test Center retains a copy of each report on file for 3 years.

IV. SCHEDULING

American Test Center schedules tests with each fire department to best meet their individual requirements throughout the year. American Test Center has crews located throughout the United States to perform the tests at the fire department location. American Test Center encourages your department to have a representative present during the tests to observe and ask questions. American Test Center is flexible and will modify our standard testing procedures to meet your particular needs.