Thump tubs for safety


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Survivors of the 1906 Earthquake made a comeback appearance

Union Square never looked better as San Francisco’s crack 10-man ladder crew put on a demonstration hoisting the six–story, 65-foot rescue ladder and Firefighter Yu Su Fu climbed up, over and down the other side for a throng of onlookers to demonstrate the “church and auditorium hoist” of the huge ladder.

A training and safety officer narrated, telling the crowd that the ladder has been in use since it was built at the City’s Corporation Yard carpenter shop in 1926, its uprights fabricated of Oregon fir and hickory dowels used for its cross members.

The team has traveled throughout the nation and to some foreign countries as far away as Colombia to demonstrate their prowess with the behemoth ladders, which are used in the City’s narrow alleys where motorized equipment will not fit.

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They can reach a fifth-floor window or a sixth-floor roof to rescue those stranded by smoke and flames, and were the city’s only alternative before motorized snorkel and rescue ladders were invented.

As the climber reached the top and “topped out” the ladder with an American flag, the crowd observed a moment of silence for the 149 San Francisco Firefighters who have lost their lives battling blazes in the department’s 150 years of experience.

That’s what the observance is all about, according to a State Senator, who presented the Chief with a proclamation in recognition of public service at disasters far and wide, where firemen have traveled to assist in far-flung localities such as New Orleans in the aftermath Katrina. By the year 2040, the City will add another 100,000 population, the metropolitan Bay Area predicted to top nine million.

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As the crowd eased away, the department spokesman explained that the museum is located at the Presidio Fire Station, where the earliest fire engines acquired by shipping them around the horn or across the Isthmus of Panama are kept on display.

A number of pieces of apparatus were placed on display, including the City’s first fire engine, emblazoned with the motto, “Protection.”

According to the Legislator, the city has burned to the ground three times and is still by and large filled with structures constructed of wood. A wrinkle on the horizon is the high incidence of cancers in firefighters due to chemical flame retardants that “do little to retard flames and smoke, but do a lot to increase profits for chemical manufacturers.”

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What can you say? The town is a total circus; always was, and hope it always will be. The politician even mentioned Lily Hitchcock Coit, an aficionada of fire fighters who made it her business to donate funding for early fire apparatus and in whose honor an art deco tower was erected atop Telegraph Hill.

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