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Monday, 3 June, 2002, 13:27 GMT 14:27 UK
Firefighters' poles scrapped
Fire engine
Poles may be too dangerous in an emergency
Safety concerns may spell the end for the famous firefighters' pole.

Authorities in Gloucestershire are reviewing the pole's use in the few stations where it remains.

New fire stations are being built without the traditional method of reaching the engines and where it survives, crews are being advised to use stairs instead.

Increasing public access to fire stations has meant an even greater emphasis on making the buildings as safe as possible.


Some firefighters will be sad to see the pole go - it is a traditional part of the fire service.

John Drake, Fire Brigades Union

Since brigades began the 'drop pole' has been part of the British fire station.

But accidents have left a question mark over its future.

In one incident, at a fire station in Cheshire, a member of the public went into the pole cubicle thinking it was a toilet, and fell through the opening.

Many fire stations across the country are now being built without the pole, effectively beginning a 'phasing out' of the method.

The Gloucestershire brigade has begun a formal review process to see if use of the pole should be discontinued.

The only stations in Gloucestershire which retain the drop pole are Stroud, Cirencester, and Cheltenham.

Division Officer Stephen Knight said: "We are assessing the risk of the drop- pole. There have been accidents in the past.

Fire Brigades Union logo
Safety is the priority for the Fire Brigades Union

"We want to see if there is a greater risk of falling down a pole than from falling downstairs."

The drop pole has featured in fire stations in Gloucestershire since 1908 when the first public fire service was established at Bearland fire station, Longsmith Street, Gloucester.

Mr Knight said: "The men work around the clock so when the bell goes we jump to attention and leave what we are doing - whether we are drilling, having a meal or watching television."

John Drake, secretary of the Fire Brigades Union for Gloucestershire, said: "Some firefighters will be sad to see the pole go.

"It is a traditional part of the fire service.

"It is more for the safety of members of the public then for firefighters.

"Fire stations are becoming open venues, with public access to all areas."


Click here to go to BBC Gloucestershire
See also:

24 May 02 | Scotland
23 May 02 | Science/Nature
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