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Posted by on Jun 12, 2017 in Firehouse Facts, Historical and Museums |

History of the Fire Pole

Admittedly, nothing wins the spirit of a fire station than the idea of firefighters sliding down a fire pole to rush to an emergency and save lives and property. In an occupation where every second counts, the fire pole has given firefighters that crucial edge in response time for over a century now.

Firefighters commonly have living areas on the upper floors of fire stations.  When an emergency call comes in, they have to move down to the trucks as fast as they can. In the early days, sliding chutes or spiral staircases were popular, but not exceptionally fast. The fire pole, on the other hand, is a very fast way to get downstairs and it helps firefighter to speed up their response to emergencies. To use a fire pole, a firefighter interlocks his/her arms and legs around the pole and uses his/her legs to manage the speed of the descend.

Did you know that firefighters save about twenty-five seconds in response time by sliding down a fire man’s pole to respond to a distress call? Solid evidence indicates that sliding down a pole is faster than using inefficient spiral stair cases or sliding chutes. According to the National Fire Protection Association, the first pole was set up in New York in April 1878. In a typical fire station, firefighting horses and wagons (and later fire trucks) are on the first floor while the upper floors are for sleeping and recreation.

David Kenyon of Chicago’s Engine Company 21 invented the fire pole to help firefighters quickly reach the ground floor. Before the fire pole was invented, firefighters were solely dependent on inefficient spiral staircases or sliding chutes. Kenyon realized the distinct transportation method when firefighter George Reid slid down the wooden pole typically used for transporting hay to the hayloft. David Kenyon managed to convince the chief of the fire department to have poles installed in all fire stations.

 

Facts about Fire

  • Did you know that firefighters respond to an alarm of a fire somewhere in the United States every sixteen seconds?
  • More than four thousand Americans die fire-related deaths in the United States. Most fires could have been prevented by practicing proper fire safety and having fire alarms.
  • Did you know that more than sixty firefighters die annually in the line of duty?
  • Believe it or not, candles caused more about a thousand home fires and eighty home fire deaths between 2009 and 2013. They were also responsible for nine hundred injuries and three million in property damage.
  • Did you know that cooking is ranked as the leading cause of fires in the home? In fact, four of every ten home fires start in the kitchen.
  • Fire related incidents are potentially devastating, but fortunately, they’re easy to prevent, especially if you are aware of the most common fire hazards and take steps to combat them