An interview with Todd Ross of Raising Freedom
Flagpoles need repairs, and sometimes getting to the top of the flagpole is necessary. A common question we get, “how do I access the top of my flagpole?”. The first thing people think of is a bucket truck. If your flagpole can be accessed by a bucket truck, and is short enough, the bucket truck will work just fine. However, there are many circumstances where a bucket truck won’t work. So a Todd Ross is needed, I mean a Steeplejack.
It is an honor and privilege to know and work with Todd Ross of Raising Freedom. Custom Flag Company has known and used Todd’s services as a steeplejack since 2013. A steeplejack or flagpole climber, is a craftsman who scales buildings, chimneys, and church steeples (in our case flagpoles) to carry out repairs or maintenance. Todd travels extensively to climb flagpoles for flag dealers across the US and has climbed over 1000 flagpoles. We are lucky enough to have him in our backyard. This service is so valuable to our business as we are able to offer flagpole repairs to our clients at an affordable cost. Todd is a husband, father, grandfather, and friend to those who come in contact with him. He has a world of knowledge in the flagpole industry and we consider Todd a vital member of the CFC team.
When did you start climbing flagpoles?
I started climbing flagpoles in 2010. As a US Navy Veteran, I was in aviation and had a four day work week. I owned a hot dog cart in downtown Denver that I ran on my days off. I would park at 15th and Stout and 19th and Wazee near Coors Field. In my down time, I would see all the flagpoles on top of high rise buildings without flags. The first pole I climbed was at 15th & Stout, in downtown Denver, where my hot dog cart was parked. I climbed, painted and fixed that flagpole. The next flagpole I climbed was the Clock Tower, and then the University Building. It did not occur to me at that time that ground set flagpoles would need to be climbed, but there is a huge need to get on the top of a flagpole for repair. I eventually sold the hot dog cart so I would have the time to climb flagpoles. After a few years, I eventually quit my aviation job and started climbing full time.
How did your friends and family react when you became a full time steeplejack?
Everyone that knows me knew that this was the perfect job for me and exactly where I belong. They were glad I found what I should have been doing my whole life. If I would have known about this trade, I would have made it my career right after high school. I absolutely love it!
What has been your most memorable moment climbing flagpoles?
The one that sticks out the most is where I had to be rescued off a flagpole by helicopter. It is not my proudest moment, but a very memorable one. I began climbing a 175 foot flagpole in Dallas, Texas at noon with the temperature at 95 degrees and high humidity. The flagpole repair was very simple so I pared down the equipment I took to the top of the flagpole. Due to the heat and humidity the climb was very difficult and I ended up stuck on the flagpole for 5 and a half hours. Eventually a rescue helicopter arrived to retrieve me off the top of the flagpole. Of course this was caught on camera by the local new station. My fatal flaw was not bringing rope to self rescue or my regular climbers due the weight. I am embarrassed and should have known better. It is a reminder to NEVER take shortcuts.
What advice would you give to someone that would like to do this profession?
The first and most important advice is SAFETY FIRST. Enlist in proper training and educate yourself on how to self rescue. Always use your safety equipment. Learn how to climb all types of poles. Know when to say NO to a climb. Not all flagpoles are meant to be climbed, do not hesitate to turn back on a job even when you are 6” from the top.
The flag community is fun and unique. I have met many flag dealers across the United States though NIFDA, National Independent Flag Dealers of America. The flag dealers in this association help and support one another and do not treat each other like competition. I am proud to be a part of an industry where everyone helps each other out.
I absolutely love what I do. No one could ever get me to stop climbing. I plan to do this for the rest of my life, even when I am 100 years old.