Sliding Down the Fire Pole – The History of the Fire Pole
David Kenyon, a Chicago firefighter, invented the fire pole in 1878 to help firefighters quickly reach their fire trucks. Prior to the fire pole, firefighters used spiral staircases or sliding chutes.
Kenyon discovered the unique transportation method when a fellow firefighter slid down a wooden binding pole normally used for hauling hay to the firehouse. Kenyon swayed the chief of his department make the necessary hole in the building so that a pole could be installed. The first pole was made from pine beam and was three inches in diameter. It worked! After the installation, the Chicago Engine 21 Company was usually the first to arrive on scene. As a result, the chief ordered all Chicago fire stations to install a fire pole.