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How to Build a Fireman's Pole

A fireman's pole is the perfect addition to any treehouse.
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Many kids dream at one time or another of being a firefighter when they grow up. The excitement involved in this line of work appeals to many children. What young boy doesn't want to slide down a fireman's pole? If your child has a treehouse, you can add this feature to the structure, creating a fast and fun exit.

Measure from the rafters of your treehouse to the ground. Add at least 30 inches to the measurement. This is how long your PVC pipe needs to be. The additional 30 inches will allow the pipe to extend at least 18 inches into the rafters of your treehouse, and at least 12 inches into the ground. Buy your PVC accordingly; saw to length if necessary.

Cut a square of 3/4 inch thick plywood with a circular saw. A 12-by-12-inch square will suffice. Trace the circular end of the pipe in the center of the square. Cut out the circle, making sure it is just large enough to allow your PVC pipe to pass through it. Use a drill and hole saw set to drill the hole. If your treehouse has a closed-ceiling design, you will also have to cut a matching hole through the ceiling. If you have an open rafter treehouse, you do not have to worry about this.

Attach the plywood collar to the rafters of the treehouse, above the area where you want the pole to go through the floor. Use nails and a hammer to attach the plywood overhead. Drive the nails directly into the supporting rafters for stability. If you already have a trapdoor in the floor, consider placing the pole so that it runs through it.

Cut a trapdoor for the fireman's pole in the floor of the treehouse. If you already have one and have placed the collar in the rafters directly above it, you do not have to cut a new one. If you need to create a door, use a circular or reciprocating saw to cut a square in the floor large enough for a person to climb through. Cut a slot in the square, from the edge opposite the hinges to the center, large enough to go around the pole when the door is closed . Attach the square to the floor with hinges and a sliding latch.

Stand on the ground directly below the center of the trapdoor through which the pole will pass. Mark the spot on the ground. Dig a 12-inch diameter hole 12 inches down into the ground. This is where the PVC pole will be anchored.

Stand on the ground and slide the length of PVC pipe up through the trapdoor and into the rafters, through the collar you installed in Step 3. Use a level to position the pipe perfectly straight, or plumb. This step might require a friend or family member's assistance. When the pole is straight, fill in around the bottom of it with a bit of dirt to hold it in place.

Mix the concrete with water in a clean bucket according to the manufacturer's instructions. Pour the concrete mixture around the base of the pipe until the hole is filled in. Recheck the straightness of the PVC pipe and adjust if necessary. The concrete mixture coupled with the supporting collar at the top of the pipe will hold everything in place. There is no need to brace or support the pipe at this point.

Allow the concrete to set for at least 24 hours before using the pipe.

Things You'll Need:

  • PVC pipe, 3 inches in diameter
  • Tape measure
  • Sheet of 3/4-inch plywood
  • Circular saw
  • Reciprocating saw
  • Drill
  • Hole saw
  • Nails
  • Hammer
  • Hinges
  • Sliding latch
  • Level
  • Shovel
  • Concrete mix
  • Water
  • Bucket
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