The job assigned to a Ladder Company at a fire is determined by the arrival sequence of the ladder. For this discussion, we will consider an assignment, to a report of a house fire. This type of assignment would include three engines, two ladders, and one deputy chief.
The first ladder to arrive at the scene of a working fire will assist the first engine with gaining access to the building, "forcible entry." Once entry is made the crew will do a quick search of all areas which can be entered. They are looking for victims and for fire. They will advise the engine as to where they should stretch hose lines. As they search, they will ventilate the building as they go opening windows to remove the smoke. The second ladder is assigned to search above the fire, while the first ladder crew searches the fire floor. If the fire is on the top floor, the second ladder crew will go to the roof to ventilate it. After both ladder crews have completed a primary and a secondary search they are assigned to open up the walls, ceiling, and floors to look for fire which may be burning out of sight.