Firemen's Poles

A while ago, while tramping through India, a young
Brit told me an unlikely story that tied the existence of poles in
fire houses to the need to keep horses on the bottom level of the
firehouse while the firemen slept in the upper level. That is to say,
this lad was suggesting that horses like to climb stairs, so the
firemen had to put their staircases in obscure places to keep the
horses out, but still needing an expeditious way to deploy, they
installed poles centrally. Now, this doesn’t seem to hold water (I
mean, didn’t the horses live in stalls with latched doors?) but
nonetheless, it begs the question of why firemen get a pole and, say,
policemen don’t. Both have to respond quickly to emergencies - why
should firefighters get all the fun?

I thought it was just because the traffic on a fireman’s pole is (because of gravity) one-way, so there would be no head-on collisions while preparing to answer a call.

Policemen respond to emergencies too, but typically, this will be done by officers already out on patrol; Ambulance crews would seem to need a pole in that case though…

Hmmm…. I’d always thought is was the result of living in overcrowded places like New York City. You know, no space to spread out, so you have to spread up? FWIW, I’ve never seen a fire station that didn’t have all of the obvious stuff on the side – no pole required. Of course, I live and have spent my life where there’s planty of space and we don’t have to live like rats.

Recruiter: Say, young man, how’d you like an exciting job fighting fires?
Kid: You mean I get to earn a meager public salary while running into burning buildings? Forget it. I’m going to be a dentist.
R: But if you become a fireman, you get to slide down this nifty pole here.
K: Where do I sign up?!

You too can have the same fun of sliding down a bright and shiny brass pole. It may not be a DIY job but you can find a cooperative architect or building inspector to help you install the pole and avoid structural problems. If possible loacate the pole so you can jump out of bed, jump into your clothes, jump into your boots (or shoes), jump on the pole and jump into your chair at the breakfast table. Ready to eat a hearty breakfast and run out the door, jump in your car, and jump off to work.
A real Jump Start for the day!

Better still, out of bed, into your leotards and cape, throw on the cowl and utility belt and off to the Batcave.

I want a “Wallace and Gromit” bed myself :slight_smile:

:: stuyguy reads all the silly posts and thinks: Looks like this thread is fighting more boredom than ignorance today! ::

It’s true. I have seen two homes with fireman poles, one in a boy’s bedroom and one had it in a 2nd floor rear balcony.

From the history of Quincy, MA Fire Department:

Over time, poles have fallen out of favor. Ankle injuries from poor landings are one factor, and the opening from the apparatus room to the bunk room readily allows exhaust fumes to foul the upstairs air. Lastly, the hole in the floor defeats the natural firestop of a solid floor plane-doing the exact opposite of what we tell the construction trade.

The only brass poles interesting this firefighter also involve leggy women and overpriced beer. :smiley:

I visited a firestation with my sons cub scout troop that was built very recently (within the last 5 years) and it had a fire pole. The hole had a cover that automatically opened when there was weight on the pole, I was told it was for saftey reasons but I am sure it would block fumes and act as a firestop too. The trucks all had breakaway hoses attached to the exhaust pipes so fumes are probably not a huge issue.

I don’t see how sliding down a pole could be much more dangerous than running down a flight of stairs (unless you fall the whole way). The lower level has to be tall to accomadate the trucks so it is more like going down two flights of stairs.

Doh, just reread your quote - I am in Worcester (very close to Worchester :rolleyes: ) Mass. home of the first brass firepole. Perhaps they are a little more attached to them here.

The last new statiion I saw, 6 years ago, had a sliding chute.

In the Valet Garage where I work we have poles running alongside of the manlift (a vertical conveyor belt with steps and handles). Instead of one continuous pole running all seven floors (wheeeeeeeeeee!!), we have a staggered araingement, poles alternating on each side of the manlift shaft.

In my previous home I really could’ve used one of these. For years I thought it would be useful if a plate could be installed, at the bottom of the pole, that one could stand on,press a button, and then be lifted up the pole, to the second or third floor. Of course then the plate would have to resume it’s default position at the bottom of the pole. No more steps to climb. The only reason to use the staircase would be to transport bulky items up or down. Any engineers out there willing to come up with a design? Cut me in for 50%, willya?

I hate to ruin the fun, but may I ask a math question? ( yes, I’m a spoilsport, sorry)

How much time is actually saved by using a pole? How can it be significant?
Compared to the time it takes 5 men to get into rubber suits ( ooh, kinky!) and helmets, check a map for to identify the location of the alarm and decide the best route, then drive through city streets to get there, etc. Even with a siren blaring, you still have to stop at the traffic lights for safety reasons.
If the crew used a staircase instead of a pole, what difference would it make?

Kind of the same theory with weight savings on car, bikes or motorcycles - You might ask how it makes sense to save a couple pounds on (for example) a lightweight battery but when you add up the weight savings from a bunch of different components it adds up to a significant amount.

Saving 30 seconds with the pole might not be much but its just part of having their boots and outfits ready to jump into, firetrucks facing out, etc.

I still think a pole is safer than trying to go down stairs quickly.

I’m pretty sure Batman (the Adam West/Burt Ward version) had this kind of arrangement on the batpoles.

That’s fairly simple from an engineering standpoint. Instead of a smooth pole, the pole is an acme thread which engages both sides of a plate at 180° positions, such that the plate surrounds the standing screw. Flexible seals keep the thread and grease hidden, and the whole deal is driven by a gearmotor or a pack of atomic racing badgers in a slotted circular cage. Send me a check for $10K to do drawings, obtain permits, and such, and I’ll get right on it. :wink:

Not only that, but the pole shaft automatically changes you into and out of the Batsuit as you’re sliding!

except for the emergency vehicle actuated traffic lights. :slight_smile: