By Sarah Calams
Fire Chief Associate Editor
Roof operations involve a great deal of potential hazards. When you’re working on a roof of a structure that’s on fire, there’s little room for error.
Firefighter Derron Suchodolski, president of Practical Fire Equipment, saw a need for firefighters’ roof operations safety after his department experienced budget cuts. The Roof Operations Safety Platform provides a safe and solid place for your foot when you need to leave the safety of the ladder.
“There’s no more placing your life and career on the head of a buried ax or halligan tool, and no more relying on the roof beneath you to support your weight,” Suchodolski said.
We caught up with him to learn more about his product.
What is the ROS platform?
The Roof Operations Safety Platform is a tool used on an NFPA standard roof ladder that takes the place of using an ax, halligan tool or rubbish hook for footing on steep pitched roofs. The ROS platform is not just a ventilation tool. It can also be used for footing near a chimney fire, dormer window rescue, to mark the end of a roof ladder or to hold tools on a roof. The ROS platform is constructed on an aluminum diamond plate and weighs 16 pounds. The ROS is made in the USA and constructed and welded by ISO-certified welders. The ROS is also rated for 750 pounds.
How did you come up with the concept?
The ROS Platform came to be from experience with fighting numerous fires in Michigan — where my business partner and I are career firefighters. Weather conditions in Michigan can be brutal for firefighting, and along with old construction, the need to have safe and stable footing on roofs is important.
The concept came from a need that something had to be at the ready and not having to be stored in some compartment on a fire apparatus. This is why we designed the ROS Platform to store right on the roof ladder. The ROS locks to the rungs with our patent-pending design. This enables the firefighter to grab a roof ladder and not worry about where the ROS platform is located.
How did your firefighting background help you coming up with the design?
Being on a busy fire department is what really helped. We fight a lot of fires, so having the experience with roof operations has shown the need to be safer. Fatigue is another reason. I’m not sure about other fire departments, but if they are anything like mine, it seems like our fires always come in at the early hours of the morning. Add a sluggish firefighter trying to sink his ax or halligan into frozen shingles and having to step out onto that ax creates quite the experience.
Why is this product important for firefighters?
The ROS Platform is OSHA compliant under 1910.27. OSHA states that a person must have secure footing while on a roof. Using the head of an ax or other type of tool is not considered secure footing. The ROS Platform is supported by the trusses and does not solely rely on the sheeting of the roof. Ice and snow on a roof are not easy conditions to work on. The ROS Platform allows for multiple foot placements when the other methods only allow one.
What has been the response from firefighters?
The response so far has been overwhelming. We sold over 160 units in our first year. We have over 60 departments in the state of Michigan along with others out of state.
How much does it cost?
The ROS platform can be purchased online at our website or by contacting one of our sales representatives listed on our website. The ROS Platform has an MSRP of $525. The ROS can be seen at FDIC 2014, booth 9526 on the floor of Lucas Oil Stadium.
Anything new in development?
Our business model is to eventually help firefighters with practical ideas bring their product or ideas to market. We have patent attorneys, manufacturing and distribution set up, and our plan is to help walk firefighters through the process.