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Old 02-20-2012, 07:48 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
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Hook-and-ladder fire trucks: What were the hooks for?

On a recent episode of Pawn Stars, a claim was made that hook-and-ladder fire trucks originally carried hooks that were used to pull down burning buildings, which conveniently had rings to attach the hooks to, which were then pulled by a team of horses until the building collapsed.

Sounds like a contrived explanation to me. What kind of hooks did hook and ladder trucks carry, and what were they used for?
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Old 02-20-2012, 07:59 PM
Idle Thoughts Idle Thoughts is offline
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Not sure if they were thinking/talking about the old hook ladders that firemen used to use to climb tall buildings in the days before the automatic ladder...but they used to use these things.

They'd hook it on a window ledge, climb up the rungs to it, then pull it up and repeat the process with the window above it.

But it sounds like the Pawn Stars were talking about something completely different that I'd never heard of.
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Old 02-20-2012, 08:08 PM
Digital is the new Analog Digital is the new Analog is offline
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I read an article recently about old style houses that were built to fold into themselves if you pulled on one of the walls in a certain way..in case of fire. It would help contain the blaze so the whole town didn't burn down. Maybe the hook was the way to make that happen?

-D/a
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Old 02-20-2012, 08:13 PM
Morelin Morelin is offline
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Grabbing roof tiles, shingles, and other stuff off the roof of burning buildings and to create holes in the top of the roof(once the fire is properly contained to allow water in from above). Also to poke at the ground ahead to see if it was strong enough to walk on or just rubble.
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Old 02-20-2012, 08:23 PM
johnpost johnpost is offline
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Originally Posted by Digital is the new Analog View Post
I read an article recently about old style houses that were built to fold into themselves if you pulled on one of the walls in a certain way..in case of fire. It would help contain the blaze so the whole town didn't burn down. Maybe the hook was the way to make that happen?

-D/a
balloon framing might pull apart easier. they also burn much easier.
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Old 02-20-2012, 09:02 PM
drachillix drachillix is offline
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Originally Posted by Idle Thoughts View Post
They'd hook it on a window ledge, climb up the rungs to it, then pull it up and repeat the process with the window above it.
Pompier Ladders

We got to learn how to use them in fire academy, they are not the safest things, but would allow you to scale pretty much any building no matter how tall (with sufficently cast iron testicles).

The other part of the "hook" in hook & ladder I always assumed referred to pike poles

http://www.firehooksunlimited.net/hooks.html

Which are used for tearing into walls in search of hot spots as part of a firefight.
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Old 02-20-2012, 09:17 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
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Originally Posted by drachillix View Post
The other part of the "hook" in hook & ladder I always assumed referred to pike poles

http://www.firehooksunlimited.net/hooks.html

Which are used for tearing into walls in search of hot spots as part of a firefight.
I thought about hand tools like that, but figured they would be standard equipment on all fire trucks, not just hook and ladder trucks.
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Old 02-20-2012, 09:47 PM
johnpost johnpost is offline
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i think the pike poles on the ladder trucks might be long ones to reach to a second story window.
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Old 02-21-2012, 04:23 AM
drachillix drachillix is offline
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Originally Posted by Fear Itself View Post
I thought about hand tools like that, but figured they would be standard equipment on all fire trucks, not just hook and ladder trucks.
Generally they are. Engines carry all the basics. The big ladder trucks are like 1 giant firefighting toolbox. they carry more of, or a variety of styles of tools that would be impractical on smaller apparatus.
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Old 02-21-2012, 04:26 AM
drachillix drachillix is offline
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i think the pike poles on the ladder trucks might be long ones to reach to a second story window.
Well the truck guys will tell you they have the longer tools to get those hard to reach hot spots, but its not always true
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Old 02-21-2012, 06:17 AM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
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I think they are confusing an old chimney building technique - stacked wood lined with clay. They were designed to be pulled away from the rest of the cabin if the chimney caught fire, leaving the burning parts trailing away from the cabin and able to be beaten out with wet blankets. Then you just rebuild the chimney the next day. Let me see if anybody has put a picture online.

Nope, but the picture in the book was pretty plain, a chimney on fire, with 3 or 4 men pulling it down with hooks on ropes and a description of how the slave quarters were built so that the chimney could be pulled down so the rest of the quarters wouldn't be burned down. The cabin would have been built somewhere between 1780 and 1850, I was working on a paper about slave quarters, and the book would have been published previous to 1984.
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Old 02-21-2012, 06:59 AM
psychonaut psychonaut is offline
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Originally Posted by Fear Itself View Post
On a recent episode of Pawn Stars, a claim was made that hook-and-ladder fire trucks originally carried hooks that were used to pull down burning buildings, which conveniently had rings to attach the hooks to, which were then pulled by a team of horses until the building collapsed.

Sounds like a contrived explanation to me.
Doesn't sound contrived to me. In the Great Fire of London of 1666 the fire was fought mainly by pulling houses down with hooks; the primitive fire engines of the time didn't have any convenient way of transporting and pumping water.
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Old 02-21-2012, 08:14 AM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
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Originally Posted by psychonaut View Post
Doesn't sound contrived to me. In the Great Fire of London of 1666 the fire was fought mainly by pulling houses down with hooks; the primitive fire engines of the time didn't have any convenient way of transporting and pumping water.
Did the buildings in London have rings on them to attach the hooks to?
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Old 02-21-2012, 08:28 AM
psychonaut psychonaut is offline
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Originally Posted by Fear Itself View Post
Did the buildings in London have rings on them to attach the hooks to?
Yes, some of them did. But even those that didn't could still be pulled down with firehooks. You can see a contemporary illustration of pulling down houses with firehooks during an earlier fire in 1612.

Last edited by psychonaut; 02-21-2012 at 08:31 AM..
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