Poles in fire stations--dangerous?

It’s probably due to space constraints that agencies such as the F.D.N.Y. design their fire stations with poles for the firefighters to slide down; the bunks, and sometimes other rooms, are upstairs. Suburban stations, of course, may be in one-story structures and not need poles.
However, in the 1960s there were two fatal accidents involving people using the poles; and the Department in New York considers them dangerous. Chicago’s department disagrees–they have never had such accidents.
Who’s right?

Really, its all shades of grey.
2 guys died in 10 years? That’s a shame. But how many firemen were there in that decade? How many times were poles slid down? Now figure out what the likelyhood of death from that activity and I’d bet money its pretty Damn low .

With that in mind, walking is dangerous. Driving is dangerous. Eating is dangerous. Where is the arbitrary line we are going to draw today?

Of course its dangerouse, there is a real danger that a missed grip breaks a neck or worse. By that logic NY HAS to be right. That doesn’t mean its not an acceptable danger. At the very least, these are guys for whom the very nature of their jobs requires putting themselves on threatening situations.

This whole question is, to me, as silly as asking if the police really have a dangerous gig.

This thread ought to go right next to the one called “bungee cords: too dangerous to exist?” Every time I pick one up I’m cautioned about how easy it is to put out your eye.

Regarding fire poles, I’d be willing to bet there have been more broken limbs and general accidents by having people rushing down stairs in an emergency.

Space constraints can’t be the answer, because the building has to have a stairway anyway, for the firefighters to get back up to the second floor.

I’d also bet the fire code requires something other then a pole and a window for egress from a second story.

if there were space constraints it would be down a pole and up a ladder.

I think the poles are just legacy. Back in the days of yore, when fire engines were carts pulled by horses, the fire station was both a bunkhouse and a barn, where the horses and firemen shared sleeping quarters. They couldn’t put in regular staircases, because horses would try to climb the stairs. At first they tried slides and spiral staircases, but descending either wasn’t very fast. They settled on the “sliding down a pole” system in the late 1800s; at that time I believe the firemen would usually use ladders to ascend to the second floor, which were impossible for the horses to climb.

The pole is still much faster for getting everyone to the ground floor than everyone stumbling over each other on the stairs.

i bet the horses always won the fight for the comfy beds.

free roaming horses made a mess of the kitchen too.

The realreason for poles has nothing to do with speed or getting downstairs. It’s:

Wait, are we talking about whether or not sliding down a pole is dangerous for people who run into burning buildings for a living?

Hmm…no Polish punning joke yet? Good job, guys.

I was trying to come up with something about Stosh Kowalski always leaving the hose out so people would trip over it, but I couldn’t quite get it right. You’ve saved me the trouble.

Poles are not dangerous in firehouses. Czechs are another matter.

Well, then, a spiral playground slide would work.

Some firehouses do have slides - safer than poles and just as quick. I was watching a video with my kids featuring the Ontario, CA fire department. At least one of their firehouses has a slide.

Do the holes around the poles have guard rails? I would think that one major danger would be having a big honkin’ hole in the floor.

I used to work in a building that was a converted firehouse. Yes, it still had the poll. Yes, we used it for fun. Yes, Weeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

There is a pole in my fire station, and I consider it one of the most dangerous things we have in the building. There is a railing around the hole upstairs, but is only a horizontal rail about three feet above the floor, with three uprights holding it up. When my daughter (or any other small child for that matter) has visited, I become overprotective crazy dad keeping her away. One misstep near that pole and its a 16 foot plummet. The 2" landing pad at the base barely absorbs a controlled descent, let alone a fall.

That being said, I cannot think of a faster way of getting four or five people downstairs. It takes about a second and a half to slide and clear the pole. Five of us tumbling down the stairs is going to slow us down or roll an ankle. Being an overgrown kid, I use it every chance I get. For practice, of course.

Our sleeping quarters are on the first floor, so we do not have recently awakened firefighters sliding down. That cuts down on a lot of potential problems.

Industry-wide, I remember quite a few pole related injuries in the 1990s and the early 2000s. I believe there was a fatality in Boston in the late 90s from a pole hole fall.

We also have a Pole. I will refrain from commenting about him.

The OP never explained just how the fireman suffered fatal accidents from poles.

It could have been their wives coming in and catching them with strippers.

My husband showed me how they slide down the pole without hands the other day. Takes some practice, I guess.

I agree, running down stairs is a bigger risk in this situation then sliding down a pole.

ETA: You should see how they quickly egress from a building down a ladder. Out the window head first and flip around once you’re through.