Introduction: Climbing Fire Tower Steps Safely

About: Professionally I have been a summer camp counselor, a Draftsman/designer, salesperson, bicycle mechanic, laminate flooring machine mechanic, teacher, and designer of the OP Loftbed. Personally I am a human tha…

So, You want to climb a fire tower, but you don't want to get injured or die. In this Instructable, I will share a tip that can keep you safe so you can enjoy the view from the top.

Step 1: Warning!

Some fire towers are no longer in use. Some are privately owned. Because of this, they may not be properly maintained and can honestly be death traps. Most of the fire towers you will encounter will be metal structures with wood steps. These wood steps are usually exposed to nature and are often wet. After years of exposure to the elements, these wood steps can become weak and susceptible to cracking. Much like a scene in an action movie, where the main character is crossing an old bridge and a plank cracks, under their foot, but somehow they grab a rope and escape death. This could happen, while climbing an old fire tower, but in real life, you probably would not be lucky enough to grab a rope and escape safely.

First you should inspect the integrity of the wood steps. Are they strong, or have they become weak? Inspect the steps for signs of rot and visible cracks. Don't just assume that the wood is strong.

The best way to avoid danger is to just walk away. If you are not comfortable with heights, or just think the steps are in bad shape, there is no shame in walking away. If you do feel secure, but the wood steps seam questionable, there is something you can do to make the climb less dangerous.

Step 2: Know the Strong Points

The wood steps will be attached to the metal structure. Look at the attachment points and see how the tower is made. On most of the towers I have climbed, each wood step is attached to a metal bracket under both ends of each step. Unless the metal is completely consumed by rust, it will be stronger than the wood step. This will be the strongest point and safest point to apply weight.

I have climbed old fire towers missing some or even all of the steps by just stepping on the metal anchor points. It was very nerve wrecking.....especially on the way back down.

Step 3: Step Carefully

If you step towards the ends of the wood steps, just above the strong metal anchor points, the chances of the steps cracking will be greatly reduced. You still want to climb slowly and use both hands on the handrails, just incase a step cracks. Even if you don't fall thru the step, you could be startled and thrown off balance, you could end up falling down the steps.

When you reach a landing, look for the bolts that attach the boards to the supporting metal underneath them. Keep your feet above the strong metal supports.

Step 4: Be Careful

With growing confidence and the beautiful views, you may be distracted and let your guard down. Pay attention and watch where you are stepping.

Step 5: Video

As usual, I made a video.

Thank you for watching, and have fun climbing fire towers safely.

1000th Contest

Participated in the
1000th Contest