Wednesday, March 30, 2011

More On Wooden Ladders

After my post last week on wooden ladders, I received considerable feedback on the subject and on antique apparatus in general. The post also spiked some curiosity in my mind about wooden ladders, mainly who makes them and do they still make wooden folding attic ladders.

One comment, from Lunchox, pointed out that the City of San Fransisco Fire Dept.has a shop that maintains and repairs their wooden ladders.

I did a little snooping and found that the SFFD ladder shop not only repairs and maintains wooden ladders, but manufactures them for the department. A little further snooping found this video:

Inside the Ladder Shop at the San Francisco Fire Department from AdamKaplan on Vimeo.
(if you are having trouble viewing video in Google Reader, go directly to blog and view from there)

I was amazed at a few facts brought out in the video. First was how old some of the ladders are that are still in service. Second was how long the wood has to cure before it can be used in the making of a ladder.

I also found out that the ALACO ladder company in Chino, California still make wooden fire ladders and has done so for a long time. One of their products is a wooden folding attic ladder, model number 2305.

Image from ALACO catalog. Click to enlarge

As I have never worked for an agency that uses wooden ladders, I know nothing about them. Looking at the ALACO customer list, it appears that most of their customers are on the west coast. Does any east coast departments use wooden ladders and, if so, where do they purchase them?

Isn't the internet great? You can get your questions answered and as a result, create more questions!

It appears that the ALACO ladder company is within a few hours of my house. I may try and arrange a tour of the wooden ladder operation. It might make a good photo op.

Thanks for reading,


  1. What's cooler than vintage equipment on display? Vintage equipment in service, that's what. Great post, Captain Schmoe. Thanks for writing!

  2. Thanks for the great article Captain Schmoe!

    YYC (Flight) Dispatcher