portable trampolines used for fires?

i remember seeing a portable round trampoline held by firefighters in old cartoons.

my questions are

  1. was this really used?

  2. is it still used?

  3. what limitations are there on it? was it only useful for a certain weight from a certain height?

  4. could you replicate the effect using a tarp or some fabric in an emergency?

if someone was in a burning building and needed to jump is this a viable solution?

thank you

It wasn’t a trampoline, it was actually a net. They were real, & made of a slightly springy material.

I don’t belive that it is still in use, although related systems may be used.

I hope you haven’t been waiting in a burning building for an answer! :smiley:

The device was called a life net, and it was indeed used. In fact, in Massachusetts, it was required (by state statute) to be carried on every ladder truck in the state up until the mid 1980’s, as I remember. But to answer your questions:

  1. Yes, it was indeed used.
  2. Not as far as I know. There are a variety of reasons its no longer used, though, which will be discussed later.
  3. Some limitations:
    a. It needed about 10 firefighters to use it, and as manpower is an issue in today’s fire service, I don’t know of anyone still using it.
    b. The frames came apart and folded up, but they still took up a huge amount of storage space on a fire engine. Space put to much better use for other things.
    c. You had to land in the net just right, in kind of a sitting position, so those jumping from the building were risking a good amount of injury just landing in the net wrong.
    d. The firefighters holding the net had to hold it in a certain way as not to break their arms or backs when the victim landed in the net. Lots of injuries from improper use.
  4. The nets were made out of a heavy canvas with a large steel ring that fed through loops in the canvas. I doubt you could just hold a tarp and get the same effect. Then again, if the desired effect was to have people fall through the tarp to the ground, then I guess you could replicate it.
  5. A much more viable solution today is to throw a ladder to the window where the victim is perched. You need a straight drop from the window to the net area, I can put a ladder (either a ground ladder or an aerial) to any window a net would be used on. It takes much fewer firefighters, it’s much safer, and you’re much more likely to get someone to climb down a ladder than to jump into a canvas ring.

Oh so long ago in probie training, we were taught to never open the net until you were directly under your intended ‘jumpie’
There was never a guarantee that your jumper was the only one up there looking to be saved. The act of 8 to 10 men, rushing across the sidewalk with an open net, could end up having more than one person splattered on the pavement.
There was a bull’s-eye, dead center.
The outside ring of the net was held at chest height with a palms up grip. When a person hit the net dead center…hopefully…the crashing weight caused all who were hanging on, to drop their arms to crotch level, and the victim was dumped out.
One man was in charge as to where to be at any given moment. He would grip the ring with one hand, pulling or pushing in the direction to go. It was best if all the others were focused on this one man guiding them. That never worked out.
We practised jumping out of a second story window, to find out what it felt like when done properly. Remember, there was no fire at our backs, no panic situation, calm and cool, jump when you were ready situation.
I think one jumper in ten nailed it. You can see why they were phased out.