A native San Franciscan, Jerry Lee built and restored the wooden ladders used by the San Francisco Fire Department for close to 30 years. He started his apprenticeship as a pattern-maker in the Dogpatch neighborhood. In 2013, he retired to develop his own pattern-making business.
SFFD is the last remaining Fire Department using custom built, handcrafted wooden ladders. Workers employed by the City build and restore the roughly 350 wooden ladders in circulation. They operate out of Central Shops, which is located in the Bayview district. Firefighters often prefer wooden ladders because they don't conduct electricity carried by the high-voltage overhead wires. The largest of the wooden fire ladders in-use measure 50 feet and weigh 350 pounds. Six firefighters must work together to raise just one 50-foot ladder.
For Workshop Residence, Jerry facilitated multiple workshops in which participants learned to assemble and detail their own 8' Straight Ladders or 12' Truss Ladders.