Aerial Ladder Testing & Inspections

Call: (888) 595-8323

Ohio CAT provides third party aerial ladder testing and inspections on aerial ladders according to NFPA guidelines utilizing state-of-the-art test equipment and certified inspectors. After aerial ladder inspection tests are completed, we will provide an electronic report. Upon completion of any necessary repairs, we will then issue certification.

Aerial Ladder Testing & Inspection: 

  • NFPA 1911
  • Visual Inspection
  • Operational Test / Functional Test
  • Ultrasonic Test of Accessible Pins
  • Bolt Torque
  • Hydraulic Fluid Analysis
  • Hardness Test
  • Load Test / Drift Test
  • Magnetic Particle Inspection
  • Dye Penetrant Inspection

According to NFPA 1911 standards, all aerial ladders shall be service tested on the following schedule:

19.1 General. If the fire apparatus is equipped with an aerial device, the aerial device shall be inspected and tested as required by this chapter.

19.1.1 All ladder inspections and tests specified in this standard, except those specifically designated as nondestructive tests (NDT) shall be conducted at the following times:

  1. At least annually
  2. After major repairs or overhaul
  3. Following the use of the aerial device when the aerial device could have been subjected to unusual operating conditions of stress or load
  4. When there is reason to believe that usage has exceeded the manufacturer’s recommended aerial device operating procedures

19.1.2* The ladder inspections and tests specified in this chapter as NDT shall be conducted as follows:

  1.  At least every 5 years
  2. Whenever visual inspection or load testing indicates a potential structural or safety problem
  3. When there is a desire to further confirm continued operational safety.

Aerial Ladder Testing & Inspections Include:


A. Visual Inspection; A complete inspection of:

  1. Outriggers; Pads, structure, welds, bolts, hoses, fittings, cylinders, check valves, pins and retainers.
  2. Chassis; Truck frame, aerial sub-frame/mounting, suspension, PTO, brake hoses, hydraulic components, electrical components, brake lock assembly, steering components, exhaust system and cooling system.
  3. Pedestal; Mounting bolts/welds, pedestal structure, attachment welds/pins, hydraulic swivel joint, hydraulic components, swing drive gear box/mounting bolts, backlash between swing pinion/bullgear and electric collector ring/brushes.
  4. Rotation Bearing; Upper/lower bearing attachment weld/bolts and vertical movement of bearing. Proper torque on accessible bearing bolts.
  5. Turntable; Turntable structure, hydraulic components, lower control operation, extension winch/motor mounting, spotlights and intercom.
  6. Lower Boom; Boom structure, welds, lower boom lift cylinders/attachment, hydraulic components/lines, leveling cables/rods, upper/extend cylinder/attachment, boom rest supports, tie down straps, boom extension roller assembly and wear pads.
  7. Elbow Area; Elbow structure, hydraulic hoses and leveling cables.
  8. Upper Boom Extension; Boom structure, welds, leveling cables/rods, wear pads and hydraulic lines/components.
  9. Platform; Mounting bracket/bolts, leveling system, platform exterior condition, platform control operation and hydraulic lines/components.
  10. Ladder and Extension Sections; Base, Second, Third, Fourth and Fly; Inspect rails, rungs, lacing, hand rails for, structural welds, dents and gouges, extension roller assemblies, wear pads/babbitt slides, cables/chains, bed lock lubrication. Extension lock operation, pawls, springs and lubrication. Cylinder  shut-off safety valve operation and leakage. Pin joint condition.
  11. Fifth Wheel; Pivot pins, mounting bolts and lower mounting housing.
  12. Tiller; Steering gearbox/attachment, steering elements, signal to cab and suspension components.
  13. Waterway; Waterway components, attaching brackets, pressure test for leaks, pressure test at three points of 50psi intervals, flowmeters within 10 percent & relief valve for proper function.
  14. General; Load rating chart, electrical hazard placards and upper/lower control placards.

The visual inspection includes removal of inspection cover plates as necessary to do a thorough job.


A 5 year test includes all NDT testing as required by NFPA 1911, Chapter 19.

B. Magnetic Particle Inspection: All critical welds, plates and castings of items listed in Part A during the visual inspection. Magnetic particle is used to identify surface cracks.

C. Dye Penetrant Inspection: All critical welds, plates and castings made of non-ferrous material and any area requiring verification in Part B. Dye penetrant is used to identify surface cracks on ferrous material.

D. Ultrasonic Inspection: All accessible pins including outriggers, pedestal, boom and platform. Ultrasonic is a test method used to detect flaws in pins. The pins being tested must be accessible, have flat end surfaces and not have grease fittings. Use of ultrasonic limits the number of pins which might otherwise have to be removed for inspection.

E. Hardness Tests: Non-ferrous aerial device beams checked for strength and heat exposure.


A. Functional Test: A functional and operational test is performed to check the operation of controls, bearings, pin bushings, cylinders, holding valves, ladder extension cables, platform leveling mechanisms, outriggers, waterways, etc. This test also finds worn swing bearings/gear boxes, worn pin/bushings and loose bolts critical to the operation of the aerial.

B. Operational Test on Aerial Ladders: A complete cycle of aerial ladder operation will be carried out. The ladder will also be fully elevated out of the bed, rotated 90 degrees and extended to full specified height. The tests will also demonstrate successful operation of all ladder controls.

C. Drift Test: Place the aerial device at full elevation, marking the cylinder piston on the second section in relation to the base section and allow the ladder to stand for one hour with engine off. Results shall not exceed the manufacturer’s specifications for allowable cylinder drift.

D. Operational Test on Elevating Platforms: The operation of the elevating platform shall include movement of the platform from ground to maximum elevation and extension as well as rotating platform 360 degrees to the left and to the right while the unit is at its maximum horizontal reach. Booms and telescoping elevating platforms will operate without any improper or unusual motion or sound. From the lower control station, the elevating platform will also be raised out of the bed, extended to full-specified height, and rotated through a 90-degree arc. Both tests will demonstrate successful operation of platform controls.


Load tests are performed on each aerial ladder and platform. The aerials are operated to determine they operate smoothly and without any undue vibration. Horizontal and maximum elevation tests are performed on aerial ladders using the manufacturers recommended rating at permissible operating ranges. Full operating range tests are performed on aerial platforms with the manufacturers specified rating to determine stability and acceptable operation under load.


The water system will be pressure tested by filling the system to the manufacturers rated working pressure and check for leaks including the turntable swivel. If equipped with a flow meter and/or water pressure gauge, each should be checked for accuracy. If equipped with a relief valve, it will be verified that it is operational at the manufacturers recommended pressure setting. Department must supply operator for these tests.


Chemical analysis of oil in engines, transmissions and hydraulic systems is also available. Determines type and amount of contamination, important for proper maintenance of equipment.



A comprehensive record shall be completed for all aerial ladder testing and inspections and signed for by the person responsible for the test.


For more information on our aerial ladder testing & inspections, call 888.595.8323.