We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is an Aerial Ladder?

By Christian Petersen
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
About Mechanics is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At About Mechanics, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

An aerial ladder is a type of ladder designed to extend, without support, to reach high places. This type of ladder is most commonly installed on fire trucks for the purpose of firefighting and rescue. Aerial ladders were first invented in the late 19th century in response to the need for longer ladders to help firefighters reach the upper stories of increasingly tall buildings. The first aerial ladders were made from wood and raised by a system of hand cranks. Modern aerial ladders are made from strong, light materials, like aircraft grade aluminum, and can be quickly raised by means of hydraulics or electric motors.

Most ladders of this type are constructed by combining two or more sections of reinforced ladder in such a way that they nest within each other when retracted. They are much more strongly constructed than a standard ladder, and the sections will often have a box-like profile when viewed from the side, with diagonal cross bracing that may resemble bridge or roof trusses. An aerial ladder is designed to be self-supporting until it reaches its target, and some are capable of remaining free standing in space even with the additional weight of one or more firefighters.

Modern firefighting trucks and vehicles are by far the most common carriers of aerial ladders. These devices are important aids for fighting fires and rescuing people trapped by fires as well as for other rescue operations involving buildings that are more than one or two stories above ground level. Ladder trucks have developed specifically to make use of this invaluable firefighting and rescue tool.

The main use of an aerial ladder is to allow firefighters and other rescue personnel access to high places. Many improvements to the basic idea have expanded its usefulness and effectiveness. An aerial ladder may be outfitted with a platform or bucket on the end, to give firefighters or rescue personnel a stable place from which to perform their duties while high in the air.

Some aerial ladders are equipped with automated systems for water delivery so that firefighters do not have to carry hoses to the top of the ladder. Some may have a fire hose nozzle mounted on a swiveling turret allowing a firefighter to quickly and efficiently aim a stream where it will do the most good. A small integral water tank may be present on some aerial ladders to provide a supply of water when another source, such as a fire hydrant, is not available.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By live2shop — On Oct 07, 2011

Wow! What progress has been made in fire fighting. From the description in the article, the fire fighting aerial ladders are now made of light, but very strong material and are constructed to be very strong. It really surprised me that they can be free-standing.

People who live in three story houses, or high rise apartments and condos should feel a lot safer knowing these ladders reach so high and are equipped with ways to spray water above.

About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.