The rise and fall of the Fireman’s Pole


Once heralded as the time-saving successor to stairs, the fire pole is, after 150 years, sliding toward extinction. In its heyday, the pole revolutionized the way firefighters responded to alarms, accessed their trucks, and, ultimately, saved lives. But fire poles came — and still come — with a caveat: they have the potential to be lethal for those who descend them.

As a kid, I always thought it would be cool to have a house with a Fireman’s Pole in it to get downstairs. After reading this article, not so much. I had no idea they were so dangerous.

  • The White Tiger

    I’m still all for ’em if the firefighters are. They’re fun as hell.

    “You gotta try this pole!”

  • LTMP

    I was half expecting a cheesy porno

  • david

    Everything is dangerous. We should all be in a constant state of fear.

    • Lukas

      6% of all firemen deaths are attributed to the poles. That’s not funny, that’s just dumb.

      Everything is dangerous, but if 6% of firemen deaths are not due to actual fires, but due to the way they move to the freaking car when there’s a fire alarm, there’s something seriously wrong.

      • For comparison, in 2002 2% of general population deaths were road traffic.

        6% if a small number is an even small number. That’s also not broken down further: How many of them fell down the chute sleepwalking because it wasn’t secured vs. falling down actually on their way to a fire?

        It’s important not to have a knee jerk reaction. Look at the numbers and figure it out, fix it if it can be fixed.

  • I knew a family in Independence, MO., in fact just a block or two away from Harry Truman’s house, who had a kid prodigy. He had a pawn shop in his bedroom. And a fire pole to the downstairs. (Indulged does not begin to describe it!)