During overhaul and firefighting operations, there are a number of hazards we take for granted. One of which is lath.
Until the 1950's and some areas into the 1960's, using plaster and lath was the primary means of closing in rooms and covering walls. More information can be found here.
In older towns and cities, plaster and lath systems are going to be more frequent than in newer built county settings. Though that is the case, do not assume that you will not see this in your response area.
Lath is simple to pull down with the right tool and technique. I prefer a Boston Rake or better yet an Adze. Both tools have long working areas and pull more pieces of lath in one stroke than a Pike Pole or NY Roof Hook. (We will cover technique in a separate post, it's an art).
There is a hazard once you start pulling the ends of the lath down. I have noticed that while hooking ceilings, most people just pull the lath from the ends of the board and do not pull the boards 100% from above. The problem with this is: the ends of the boards have nails in them, this is how they are secured to the joist.
Now picture this: after the fire is out and you have completed overhaul, it's dark in the room and you are trying to exit the structure to "go take a blow" and you happen to get snagged in the face or eye with a 50 to 120 year old rusted nail. That doesn't make for a good weekend. So do everyone on the fireground a favor, go the job right and "pull it down before it comes down" and pull it down all the way.