Inside the San Francisco Fire Department’s wooden ladder shop

Furniture & Lighting
Inside the San Francisco Fire Department’s wooden ladder shop

San Francisco, as many of our regular readers will know from experience, is hilly, and can be windy. It has many narrow, winding roads and lots of low-hanging power lines. Which is why the SFFD is the only major US fire department still using wooden ladders–they don’t conduct electricity, and won’t fault a power line to ground in the event of an accident. The SFFD ladder shop made its first wooden ladder in 1917, and they’re still crankin’ em out today, using Douglas Fir timbers that are first aged 15 years in the shop itself. Very cool maker story and an excellent video from Adam Kaplan and ASK Media Productions. [via Gizmodo]


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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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