Self-Supporting Ladders.

Self-Supporting Ladders.

It is some two or three years since, at a public exhibition of the Scott-Uda self-sup porting extension ladder, Chief Nash and two Firemen were killed, and several others injured by the breaking of the ladder. The Coroner’s jury that inquired into the cause of the death of these men condemned the Scott-Uda ladder as unsafe, improperly constructed, and as violating scientific principles, at the same time censuring the Fire Commissioners for permitting it to be used. The Commissioners had already paid $25,00o for the privilege of building such of these ladders as they might want-not for the death-traps themselves, but for the privilege of making them-and four of them were con structed at a cost of about $i ,8oo each. Since the verdict of ttie jury no attempt has been made to use these ladders ; in fact, beyond an exhibition or two, they never were used, but have been stored away as so much old lumber, The present Commis sioners (who are not responsible for the pur chase alluded to), have resolved to ascertain whether these ladders are to be thrown away, or whether they can be made service able. At their meeting a few days since, a resolution was passed appointing a Board of Survey, consisting of three scientific persons, to examine the ladders, and report whether or not they were strviceable. This Board examined the ladders on Tuesday last, in presence of quite a crowd of persons, in Washington square. What their decision was we have not learned, but the general opinion of the spectators was that they were cumbersome and dangerous.

These aerial ladders, as they are termed, are 98 feet long, and ladders of this length are of frequent demand in the Department for life saving purposes. For practical service in extinguishing fires the 65-feet ladders in use are far more available and serviceable. It is the general impression that the Scott-Uda ladder is a failure, impracticable and dangerous. Whether the disaster which attended its exhibition was attributable to carelessness on the part of the men handling it, or to faults of construction in the ladder, has never been satisfactorily explained. We do not believe, however, that a self-supporting ladder of such length can be made strong enough to meet the requirements of the service. They may sustain the weight ot two or three, or even half a dozen, men for an exhibition, but this is very different from putting them in active service at a fire. The main use for such ladders is to furnish a means for carrying lines of hose to high elevations ; to do this requires many men, and the weight of the hose, and the column of water it contains, is too great for any unsupported ladder to sustain. It requires great strength to handle hose filled with a column of water, pulsating with every heart-beat of a powerful steam engine, and the ladder that supports it, with the men necessary to handle it, must possess a greater degree of strength than can be provided at its base alone. There are extension ladders, made to any length, which can be elevated^ against a building quicker than the self-supporting ladder can be put up, and which are perfectly safe, because they derive a great portion of their support from the building against which they are erected. It will be far better for the Commissioners to throw away these ladders and get others in which the men have confidence, than to take any further risks regarding them. It may be feasible, however, to remodel them, reduce their length to sixty or seventy feet, and use them like ordinary ladders ; but we opine that the Firemen will always regard them with the same degree of suspicion that the public does.

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