While I waste away my Sunday (and do a little PowerPoint work for a class I’m teaching), I’ll give you this to keep yourselves entertained:
That, courtesy of the great Wake/Raleigh Firefighting Blog, is a tubular slide in a fire station in Ohio. Poles are sliding into disuse (heh), but that doesn’t mean we have to take the stairs. The FD down the street (not my department) is building a new station with poles and I’ve read that LA City is also holding onto tradition. But, for the most part, because of NFPA station design standards and insurance costs, we’re not seeing many multi-story stations being built. Those that are even often don’t have poles and I know of at least one FD in my area that took out their poles and floored over the holes.
I’ve heard people say that it’s ridiculous that we can be expected to run into burning buildings (no running on the fire ground!) but that it’s too dangerous to slide a pole. This misses the point. To be effective you must risk your safety by going into a burning building. You can be just as effective in getting to the apparatus without a pole, with certain qualifications.
Still, I’m not a fan of the big one-story stations with the sprawling footprints. I’d rather have a multi-story with some quick way to the bay floor. Poles are indisputably dangerous (I only slide the pole for more serious calls) but they really do make a difference in your speed out of the house. Because travel time is dictated by safety, traffic, road conditions, and people, one of the best ways to make up precious tens of seconds is by clearing the house quicker. So it may not be traditional, but maybe a slide is worth considering.