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  • Slide poles

    Our new station has two 27' high slide poles. We've already had one broken ankle, and just read about the contractor in Houston falling through the hole with fatal results. If you have a slide pole, have you had any accidents? How high is your pole? Do you reqire any training before using it, if so, can you provide details? Has your worker's comp insurance carrier said anything about the pole? Any info would be appreciated.
    R.A. Ricciuti
    Mt. Lebanon Fire Department

  • #2
    Poles- North or South - Safety First

    Used a slide pole for 30 years..The height was about the same as yours.When you use the pole ,all braking is done with your feet.
    You should be able to stop at any section of the pole while in motion
    if you want too. It's a learned technique and practice makes perfect.
    It sure beats taking the stairs... The only incident that a broken ankle incurred was from an off duty person who took the pole while
    not in tune with the rest of his body...Also when not in use,
    close safety bar to prevent visitors or others from hole.
    Take it from me about poles ---Especialy the North Pole.
    Be Safe -slide slow --and dont eat all the cookies for me,
    and my crew. S.Claus Sleigh 3

    P/S We had 4 poles in each corner of the building.
    Plus our poles were smaller in diameter then the ones
    they are making today. So you had a better grip to hold on.
    Todays are fatter, but all braking is with the feet, not with your hands.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by neildonahue; 09-18-2003, 12:11 PM.


    • #3
      Yes we have one

      We have one that is 38' from the top of the pole and we have had injuries. The worst mishap occured when one of our members hit there head on the hole while going through the floor, he knock himself out and landed on the man who went before him. We teach everyone how to use the pole but do not require that you use it. All new personel are trained in its use and have the option of using it when they come back from probie school. We have a 50/50 mix of who will use it and who won't......the old guys take the stairs (Im an old guy)the new guys show off for their chicks when they visit.
      IACOJ Membership 2002

      Mike IAFF

      The beatings will continue until the morale improves


      • #4
        Poles are banned up here now, and cannot be installed in new halls. The last I heard, old halls could get their existing poles grandfathered, but most dept's close them off and leave them as a decoration only.

        If you did have a pole, they made you install a ton of safety equipment such as hatches in the hole, and guardrails, etc... In the end, It was far more work than using the stairs.

        Today I think of it like riding the tailboard. For sheer experience, I am glad I started in this business before these things were prohibited, but I don't really find us missing them today.
        Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!



        • #5
          This is an interesting issue that I did research on for my former dept. while conducting a firehouse design standard. I'll pass on a little of what I discovered.

          I think every firehouse in My current Dept has them. The older houses naturally have longer drops from high celings but the distance really doesn't matter, it is the user and whether or not they are careless or not. We use them and there really haven't been any big problems. There is training in the accademy with a scafolding set up with a pole. Proper instruction is provided. And the proper way to slide is with one leg in front and one in the rear providing friction with the legs and feet. The hands and arms are just for guidance...although I've known guys who are good enough that they don't need to use their hands and can carry a full cup of coffee with them! Neil is correct as well. You should be able to stop completely at any point.

          Anyhow the regretable death of the contractor can probably be traced to some very correctable problems with poles. Over the years many of the problems with poles have been corrected and as a result many urban depts have returned to the use of multi-floor firehouses with poles.

          One problem that might come to light in this recent case is properly secured and lighted poles, such as ones provided by McIntire Brass. http://users.rcn.com/aeanthony/

          There is a distinct posiblity that the contractor as reported was unaware of the location and somehow accidentily fell into it. By placing a cage and light on it. The chance of falling into it accidentialy is almost zero. While conducting my research one of the many FDs I visited was the San Antonio FD. I was told that in the early 1900s a brother fell and severly injured himself, eventually leading to his death. The dept then properly enclosed all poleholes with a closet like door and to date I was told there have been no serious injuries.

          Plus mentioning the locations of all pole holes to the contractor would be a good idea.

          I know a few brothers who worked in houses with poles...but they lacked a thick neoprene landing mat. (My house has two on top of each ofter.) Many old ones should probably be replaced as they lack and padding effect and are signifigantly worn down.

          Also as was mentioned newer poles are larger in diameter than older ones. The larger the pole the more friction and the greater the safety factor.

          The pole is a useful tool that if used correctly can improve the service provided to the citizens as of a result of shorter turnout times. However if used recklessly just as with any tool (saw, jaws, etc.) one can be seriously injured.

          Despite what many believe the pole for the reasons mentioned above and others is making a comback in firehouses from California to the Carolinas. San Antionio, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Oakland, Columbia,SC, Sacramento, Phonenix and many others have built new firehouses with poles.

          If you use proper safety precautions the pole can be a positive tool in your turnout of the members of your dept.

          For some looks and some recent firehouse designs on the west coast...look to: www.firestationdesign.com



          • #6
            Man Fred, you really did your homework. Like you mentioned, my Dept, San Antonio, has built newer stations that have poles. The only problem I have heard of was the fatality you mentioned. It actually occured in the 60's.

            Here is a link to the LODD from our website http://www.sanantoniofire.org/histor..._main_menu.htm
            Look under LODD, RAMIRO RIVERA

            I really like the poles myself. I don't have one at my station however. Like many places, some of the older guys at the stations with poles tend to just use the stairs. The academy does train cadets in sliding the pole.

            Got Crust?

            We lucky few, ... we band of brothers


            • #7
              The pole is a useful tool that if used correctly can improve the service provided to the citizens as of a result of shorter turnout times.
              First off.. I like poles, too. They are a tradition that is unique to the fire service. When the public visits, inevitably they want to see the pole. It is good for community relations. But did your research really prove the above statement? How much shorter? 15 secs? 20 secs? (I know, "every second counts, blah,blah, blah).


              • #8
                seeing how our dept. is only 1 story, it would be kinda funny if we had a pole. o wait, we have 1, it goes along the wall in our museum.
                No longer an explorer-
                Currently Keene State College Class of 2008
                KEENE STATE RUGBY #5!!!
                I shed blood for my ruggers.
                <forever ruggers, forever sisters>

                All gave some, some gave all. Gone but not forgotten. 9/11/01


                • #9
                  Hmmm... while being new to all of this fire service stuff, why would anyone in their right mind build a new station that is two stories in which one would have to utilize a pole to get down to the apparatus from their sleeping quarters? It would be more efficient and less costly to build a single story structure large enough to accomodate the apparatus plus sleeping quarters, kitchen, etc.

                  My opinion only, before I get slammed for my opinion... remember, I am new and might be missing something (besides my mind ).


                  • #10

                    Dont worry bro, I am not going to slam your opinion. The following is only my opinion after conducting my own year long research project. It relates to urban communities with double company and larger firehouses. Your community might have a different situation.

                    You might not know but in many urban and suburban areas building two stories is actually cheaper than a single story...over the short term (aquisition & building costs) and Long term (Energy efficency & on-going maintenance costs ie. replacement of roofs, etc.)

                    While the typical firehouse from the 1960-70s had few space needs that are typcially considered necessities today. The typcial Johnny and Roy firehouse typically didn't have locker rooms, restrooms, private bunks for both sexes. Office space was minimal as was the apparatus floor, length and height. There often weren't fitness facilities..which would today be cramed on to the apparatus floor. Storage was also minimal. Kitchens are also tiny and inadequate for todays needs.

                    A look at many firehouses from the 1980s show enormous single floor plans that led to excessively long turnout times. Many times the bunk room is placed at the rear, the farthest room from the apparatus! The firehouse itself should be designed for minimal turnout times, that is what makes it such a uniqe challenge to architects. (remember NFPA 1710 just came out with the 1 min Turnout Standard,I won't argue it here) I spoke with officials with the Indianapolis FD. They looked at turnout times from large single story plans and from the older two story firehouses. What they found is the older firehouses had better times as a result of the more compact 2 story design vs. the newer single floor plans.

                    Also a driving force behind this movement back to the two-story plan is from outside the fireservice. Many communities do not want a enormous strip mall like facility with large drive through parking lots with all that light. In fact one of the reasons San Antionio Engine 46 looks the way it does is because that it had to blend into the surounding high-end residential community. It is easier for residents to accept a compact side-by-side two story than a large box like single floor firehouse that resembles a small warehouse or strip mall.

                    The above really applies mostly to double company firehouses and larger. Single company firehouses can usually fit comfortably and atractively in a single floor arangement.



                    • #11
                      I spoke with officials with the Indianapolis FD. They looked at turnout times from large single story plans and from the older two story firehouses. What they found is the older firehouses had better times as a result of the more compact 2 story design vs. the newer single floor plans.
                      What were the numbers? What was their methodology? Was it validated?


                      • #12
                        We have poles in the majority of our houses. Sometimes when a house is replaced the same location is used and there is no choice but to build straight up. Even when acquiring new land there is no choice but to build multiple story facilities.
                        Two of the houses I've been assinged to have been shot at in the middle of the night. I like my chances of not being hit sleeping above street level versus a one story house.


                        • #13
                          In response to be58d2003's comments regarding why a station would be constructed with two stories, and since he has elected not to receive email via the forums, here are the reasons:

                          The building is a public safety building, housing both police and fire departments. Both entities operate out of a single station; a 45 officer/8 civilian PD with 22 vehicles, and a 17 career/45 volunteer firefighter FD with 4 engines, 1 truck, 1 rescue, 1 bus, 1 trench rescue trailer, and 4 utility vehicles. The community is basically built-out, and the only piece of property we could acquire necessitated building a multi-story structure. The building is actually 4 levels; a basement in the rear (with storage, lockup, sallyport, and a FD utility vehicle garage), 1st floor (fire apparatus, fire administration), mezzanine (fire pevention, volunteer office, training room, storage, and building mechanicals), 2nd floor (PD and FD locker rooms, FD kitchen, bunks, dayroom and library, fitness center, emergency management center, and large meeting/training room), and 3rd floor (police administration, crime prevention, investigative unit, records, and traffic unit). All of this was previously housed in our municipal building, constructed in 1929 (and woefully undersized and inadequate for today's public safety needs). So that (in a rather large nutshell) is why we built it tall. Check out our website at: www.mtlfd.org/
                          R.A. Ricciuti
                          Mt. Lebanon Fire Department


                          • #14
                            2 houses here have them, Engine 6 has one, Truck 4 has two. I love using them, beats the stairs, however I slide half way down stop and then go on down. I found out that doing that prevents friction burns and helps with impact on the mat, yea I'm young but I'm trying to be easy on body. All have safety rails, hatches, and landing mats.
                            No longer an explorer, but I didn't wanna lose my posts.

                            IACOJ 2003


                            • #15
                              How many stations have thier poles in seperate rooms and behind doors? Our volunteer station was built about 10 years ago with an upstairs designed to facilitate the eventual transistion to career firefighters manning the station (believe it or not, our sattion is run soley on its own without input from the town or county and has a long term 10-20 year plan in place for growth...go figure!) and both of our poles are behind doors, the door has a regular handle plus a top safety lock to prevent children from opening the door past the door it is 4 feet on one and 8 on the other to the pole, and both have thick pads at the bottom. Doors at the bottom of both open to the apparatus floor, and cannot be opened from the appartaus floor to prevent anyone from walking under the pole.


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