We Build the Ladders by Which We Climb. | A Continuous Lean.

We Build the Ladders by Which We Climb.

Oct 31st, 2010 | Categories: San Francisco, Video | by Michael Williams

A look inside the San Francisco Fire Department’s ladder factory, the only one of its kind in the United States.

[Thanks to Terry V. for the heads up.]

Comments: 10

10 Comments to “We Build the Ladders by Which We Climb.”

  1. Ms. P & C
    on Oct 31st, 2010
    @ 1:45 PM

    I seem to remember you once telling me something along the lines of: “There’s nothing in San Francisco I can’t find in New York.”

  2. Jireh
    on Oct 31st, 2010
    @ 5:25 PM

    I live in downtown SF and I see the firetrucks almost everyday, I’m glad that I can see a piece of history when they drive by me.

  3. Toby Wollin
    on Oct 31st, 2010
    @ 6:45 PM

    Wow – what a great story! I looked at a local manufacturer here because they make stuff for arborists and electric line workers; I was sure they must make ladders too, but nope. http://buckinghammfg.com/

  4. Thornproof
    on Nov 1st, 2010
    @ 12:34 PM

    Those are some great looking ladders! I wonder if cost was the only reason that other departments gave up their wooden ladders?

  5. iamamoody1
    on Nov 1st, 2010
    @ 3:08 PM

    As a career firefighter I can tell you yes, the primary reason they are no longer used by other fire departments is cost. My city would never appove of spending $5,000 on one ladder. However, I do understand there is the argument that if you have a 90+ year old ladder that has only had minor repairs to it throughout the years it is cheaper than buying a new aluminum ladder every 10,15,or 20 years. Other reasons they are no longer used are weight and maintenance. Aluminum ladders are virtually maintenance free and weigh a fraction of their wooden counterparts. I would love to hear someone from SFFD comment on these.

  6. jbjones
    on Nov 1st, 2010
    @ 8:41 PM

    i prefer my ladders to be built primarily of diamonds and seal skin. it’s true they can’t be purchased for less than $750,000 a ft., but their design is flawless and the materials really lend themselves to the blue collar demands of constant telescoping. additionally, the ladder looks great as an accessory to a pair of diamond encrusted selvage raw denim trouserpants. the diamonds of course are inserted to provide exceptional durability and are an absolute must for the thrift-minded blue collar workerman.

  7. omdroparebop
    on Nov 1st, 2010
    @ 8:42 PM

    I like that. Props to the SFFD for keeping the faith.
    For years I bought made-in-Cleveland wooden construction ladders, of all shapes and sizes, from American Ladder on Brookpark Rd. They’re heavy and solid; they get better-looking with age; and like the man from San Francisco says: they’re repairable.
    As far as I know, they’re still in business; with the factory in the back.
    Within a rating class, I swear they’re more stable than their ‘glass counterparts.

  8. Halberstram
    on Nov 2nd, 2010
    @ 5:50 PM

    jb that made me smirk.

    wooden ladders and fire departments.

    wood. fire.

    ok.

  9. Pat S
    on Nov 5th, 2010
    @ 9:30 AM

    Anyone know where I can buy ladders of similar quality? I have been looking online but they all seem inferior.

  10. Makaga
    on Nov 8th, 2010
    @ 1:18 PM

    Thanks for posting, MW. Very Cool.
    My friends got an old wooden ladder in SF at a garage sale that was from a different city department and it was a beautiful find.