I wish my commute was this fun...
April 21, 2008 6:59 AM   Subscribe

Happy birthday, firehouse pole.
posted by allkindsoftime (24 comments total)
 
The poor thing has fallen on hard times of late. I hear it's working in a strip club now.
posted by brain_drain at 7:23 AM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Nowadays, the poles are sometimes considered safety hazards, and new firehouses are often built without them

This says a lot about the times we live in.
posted by slimepuppy at 7:28 AM on April 21, 2008


We can't have firefighters risking their lives!
posted by DU at 7:29 AM on April 21, 2008


The pole installed at my dad's former firehouse in 1978 was a high tech gadget that needed several pounds of downward pressure on it before the hole in the floor would open. The firemen had to hold the pole down to let us kids slide down it.

poles are sometimes considered safety hazards

Not surprising considering how much they drink. Firemen, I mean.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 7:33 AM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


The crew at Engine 21 rounded off a beam of Georgia pine to a 3-inch diameter, sanded it and varnished it. Then they waxed it with paraffin.

Boston improved the idea in 1880. Fire pole 2.0 was made of shiny, slippery brass.


Sweet.
posted by Tehanu at 7:36 AM on April 21, 2008


Not surprising considering how much they drink. Firemen, I mean.

Hey, it was safe enough for the Ghostbusters. And they were a paragon of safety. I hear the EPA gave them awards and stuff.
posted by Tehanu at 7:38 AM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


See, if the rest of my company was risking their lives making heroic rescues, and I was sidelined by the risk of getting downstairs, I don't think I'd be so happy about it.

(Actually, that's not true at all. I'd be fucking thrilled — if I was lying unconscious at the bottom of the pole, it would mean I didn't have to go into the burning building. But that's why I'm not a firefighter.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:51 AM on April 21, 2008


We can't have firefighters risking their lives!

I think the point is that there is no reason to ask firefighters to unnecessarily risk injury. There be enough hazards in the job as it is.
posted by three blind mice at 7:55 AM on April 21, 2008


Not surprising considering how much they drink. Firemen, I mean.

Poles as well. Not in Engine House 21, which was evidently African-American, but in Chicago overall.
posted by sy at 8:11 AM on April 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


You forgot Poland.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:19 AM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


When I was a kid a friend of the family who was a fireman gave me a tour of the local fire-station when it was quiet including a slide down the pole... which was fun. Well grabbing hold of the thing was a bit scary as I didn't have the leg length to step over to it so he kind of had to hold me in mid-air while I wrapped my arms and legs around it. I imagined he would have got the sack/been prosecuted for doing that now.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:35 AM on April 21, 2008


My volunteer fire department used to occasionally fill in to a city firehouse. Although they had moved all the sleeping quarters to the ground floor, the pole remained (the upstairs had been converted into an exercise room). The first thing we would do every time we got there was all run upstairs and slide down the pole. Knowing how these things go, I'm sure now that it's either rendered inaccessible or removed completely.
posted by tommasz at 8:37 AM on April 21, 2008


I still prefer firehouse pole's younger sluttier sister.
posted by quin at 8:57 AM on April 21, 2008


To the bat poles!
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:00 AM on April 21, 2008


Dang, Slarty! I wanted to be the one to link the bat-poles video.

*jams hands in pockets, looks down while scuffing toe in dirt*
posted by darkstar at 9:55 AM on April 21, 2008


Another piece of the firefighter's job that has bitten the dust is riding on the rear running board of the fire truck, holding on to a horizontal bar, which was one of the highlights of my volunteer firefighter stint in the early 1970s. Riding back there, hanging on for dear life through the curves, is a bit more of an obvious OSHA violation than sliding down the firehouse pole, although I do still see garbagemen, excuse me, sanitation workers riding on the back of the garbage truck from stop to stop (story with pic), albeit at lower speeds than a firetruck is likely to travel.

Further off topic, you can still approximate the thrill of the firefighter/sanitation worker truck riding experience by riding on the running board of a San Francisco cable car during peak commuter hours.
posted by beagle at 10:16 AM on April 21, 2008


fearfulsymmetry, back when I was a kid (and the earth was cooling), it was standard practice on school field trips for everybody to try the pole; I think the rational was that otherwise, you'd be escaping from gym.
posted by cookie-k at 10:24 AM on April 21, 2008


now i wonder about the back story to the birth of strip club pole. google search here i come
posted by hpsell at 10:36 AM on April 21, 2008


Ha! I never noticed that Batman's pole is thicker than Robin's.

I mean, I always just assumed...
posted by nosila at 10:57 AM on April 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


cookie-k, heh... on an earlier official school trip only one kid was allowed down the pole.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:58 PM on April 21, 2008


I had dinner with a macho fireman and his girlfriend once, and I asked about fire poles. He said that he worked out of a one story fire house, and his girlfriend turned to him and said: "Oh, I thought you went down on the pole!". The look on his face was priceless.

They could replace the poles with a foam pit.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:17 PM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


One of the joys of childhood that I missed out of, on account of being a weiner, was pole-sliding. I was always too afraid to slide down the pole on the playground; I thought I'd get it wrong and just drop.

I wonder how many stories you could slide down a pole until it became dangerous? Your pants smoking and burning away from the friction, as you approached terminal velocity -- ?
posted by Countess Elena at 5:52 PM on April 21, 2008


You can stop or slow yourself by gripping the pole more tightly. I don't know that you could burn yourself unless you are talking a mile of sliding.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:01 AM on April 22, 2008


From the article: Fire pole 2.0 was made of shiny, slippery brass.

Mmmmm, sessy firepoles.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 11:17 AM on April 22, 2008


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