Wednesday, December 1, 2010

VES window prop

Heres what the Guys from FWFD Truck 94 (and 1 guy from Crash) built at the Station during our latest cold snap.  We built it out of mostly scrap from around our houses and spent probably another $30 and 4 or 5 hours in actual construction time.

If anyone wants to come out and look at it, or wants more info on building it, please let me know and I’ll do what I Can to help out.

We built this wall based on Captain Dale Pekel’s from Wauwatosa Fire (WI) and Elm Grove Fire (WI) design. I contacted him thru and he was very helpful in the construction of this prop.
Attached is the “blue print” we drew up from our construction of the project.  Keep in mind WE ARE FIREMEN not construction professionals, so, that’s that. 

I’ve also attached pictures of Dale’s prop and the letter and plans he sent out.

Supply list:
18ea. 8’ 2”x4”
2ea. 2”x6”
3ea.  8’x4’ x ½” or bigger plywood
1 box 3” deck screws
10ea. 3/8” x 4” bolts
10 ea. 3/8” wing nuts
20ea. 3/8” fender washers
2ea. 3/8” carriage bolts

The wall is 4’ wide by 8’ feet tall; the bottom sill plate of the window is 5’ off the ground.  The window is 24” wide and 33 ¾” tall.  On each side of the window are holes cut for practicing “tool in the wall” maneuver for egress training with whatever system your department uses.  We have the MSA escape system built into our SCBA waist belts.

The wall is supported from an 8’, 2”x6” bolted to the bottom of the wall spanning 4’ each side of the wall.  From the distal end of the 2”x6” a 2x4 is angled back towards the window and bolted to the outside of the wall. This is repeated on the left and right side of the wall.  We attached a 2”x4” vertically between the bottom 2”x6” and the angled 2”x4” to be used as a “wall breach” stud to wrap your bail rope around.

The whole support system is attached to wall with 4”x 3/8” bolts, washers and wing nuts.  The support system breaks off the wall and can be stored as one piece.

The sill riser plate is 26” wide by 17” tall.  This allows us to decrease the size of the window and/or the height of the sill off the ground.  We use 5,  20” long 2”x4” scraps under the riser plate to decrease the window by 1 ½” increments to a minimum window size of 24” x 24”.

On the “inside” of the wall we cut a 2’ wide by 4’ tall opening centered in the bottom of the wall.  This opening is for sliding in a piece of sheetrock to practice the wall climbing maneuver. When we are not training on the wall climb we have a “blank” made from ½” plywood we slide into place to cover the opening.

The platform is just simply a 4’x4’ deck that is 28” tall.  It is not attached to the wall at all, completely free standing. Not much else to say about that.

We took an old ladder and cut off a chunk of it to use on the “outside” of the prop.  We attached a lag hook 10” off the ground centered on the outside of the wall to hook the base of the ladder to so it wont slip.

Im not gonna reinvent the wheel with training videos and such.  Check out Dales Youtube blog at or his stuff on

The next step for ours is to add the Denver prop (also stolen from Dale) so we’ll see how that goes. As I get pictures I’ll add them later on.

No kidding I stole this stuff from Dale and his VES web post, he was gracious enough to send me photos and “plans” and we kinda faked it ‘till we make it as far as the “construction” of this thing goes.  Find someone in your house that’s got some construction experience and he’ll laugh at you while you try to figure it out, then go find someone who will help.

This prop is ONLY good if you use it.  Get out there and train!!!

Actiones nonverba!!!!!


Contact me at (907)460-9036

Here is the letter from Dale:

Hello Brothers and Sisters,

Thanks for the interest in the prop - It's been overwhelming and much more than I anticipated.

Unfortunately I don't have any official "Blueprints" or "Architectural" drawings. I built this prop one weekend just from my head and never really wrote anything down. The photos and measurements below are all I have - Hopefully it will be sufficient. If you have any additional questions let me know and I'll try to answer them in a timely fashion.

If you're interested, I have a YouTube channel where I first upload my videos before they get sent or picked up by other sites like Vent Enter and Search.

Feel free to subscribe - That way you'll automatically be notified when I post a new vid. I have nearly 30 so far Including the video on a "Denver Drill" addition I made for this prop. It's a hallway and deck that attaches directly to the wall - Photos and YouTube link are below the Wall Prop pictures

Hope this helps - Good luck!

Best Regards,

Wall is 4 feet wide and 8 feet high 
Sill and Fascia Plate are "Ipe" - Brazilian Iron Wood deck boards - Can be found at any quality lumber store. Any hardwood can be used as an alternative
Base Supports are 2x6s
Cross Angle Braces are 2x4s approximately 7 feet long
Vertical Anchor Braces are 2x4s - 4 feet long - (Not needed to support wall)


Supplies needed:

3 - 4'x8' sheets of 5/8" Plywood
22 - 2x4"s - 8 feet long
2 - 2"x6"s - 8 feet long
1 - deck board - 6 foot long
(Iron Wood or any hard wood alternative) 

10 -  3/8" and 2 - 1/4" bolts - 4" long
20 - 3/8" and 4 - 1/4" flat washers
10 - 3/8" and 2 - 1/4" wing nuts 

All edges are quarter rounded with a router to reduce chipping and splinters

***I would HIGHLY recommend using deck screws to secure the plywood to the frame in place of framing nails*** 

Base Window opening is 24" wide x 33-1/2" high - Sill height is 5 feet off the floor -
Add the Sill Riser Block and the sill height is raised to approximately 5'-10"

Ladder is 75" long - The top portion of the fly section from a 24' extension ladder
This is the ideal length - Angle changes/increases when used with the Sill Riser Block 

U Bolt for securing the base of the Ladder - 10" off the floor and centered 

Sill Plate and Fascia are constructed from Ipe (Iron Wood) deck boards
Screwed in placed to allow both to be replaced if necessary 

Tool in Wall Anchor Holes
(3" wide x 7-1/2" high) 

Cut Outs for sill wall climbing/stepping - 10 total
The openings are from stud to stud - So the outside holes are more narrow than the inside ones. The First row of the steps is 10 inches off the floor - The Second row is 20 inches off the floor - The Third row is 30 inches. This measurement is from the bottom of the wall to the top of the step (or 2"x4") NOT the top of the hole. There is no need to place a 2x4 in the top of the cut out.
Spacer Blocks - 2x4s - We have 5 total which can be used to reduce the opening 
from 24" (base opening) down to 16-1/2" - That's a tight window!

Spacer Blocks are marked/labeled and screw holes are offset 

Sill Riser Block -  Overall = 24" wide x 9-1/2" high - Plywood sheathing is 24" wide - Frame is 21" wide - Add an Iron Wood (IPE) sill cap for more durability
(Used with 21" opening - 2 Spacer Blocks installed)

Bolt head and Nuts are recessed on both sides of the Sill Riser Block 

Connection Bolts to the wall are accessed from the Tool in Wall Cut Outs and the
holes at the base of the prop

Recessing the bolt heads on the inside of the Base Support will make sliding the deck in and out easier
You can make these holes larger for easier access to the bolts

Deck is 4 feet square and 28" high - With the Deck in place the sill height is 33"
with the Sill Riser Block in place the sill height becomes 43" high -
From the top of the Deck 

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