Now, why would I feature the city of San Francisco’s Fire Department on a woodworking blog? Beside the fact that these brave men and women work to help keep the city safe and rescue those in peril, they also hold on to a great old tradition – their ladders are made out of wood.
And, not only wooden ladders – the SFFD is the only department in the country that uses custom-made, hand crafted ladders. Yes, folks, in 2012, city employees custom build and repair more than 350 of these beauties. Built of ash, Douglas fir and hickory, wooden ladders are preferred due to the large number of overhead power lines in the city. Their weight also helps keep them stable as crews climb in the frequently-windy weather of the city by the bay.
That weight – 350 pounds for a 50 foot long model – requires a great deal of coordination.. and brute strength. In fact, it takes a crew of six firefighters to raise the ladder into place, with a fire lieutenant helping to orchestrate the lift.
A link to a fascinating video can be found from the SFFD’s wooden ladder page. Take some time to check this out – it’s amazing.
Many thanks to the San Francisco Fire Department for the images and the background info!