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Old 07-31-2012, 09:21 PM
 
Location: In a happy place
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Growing up, we lived about 2 1/2 miles from town with the nearest Fire Department, all volunteers. When there was a fire, they blew the siren to let the firemen know and then the operator would call all the firemen to tell them where the fire was. We had one of the firemen on our party line, so we would listen for his ring and then we would carefully lift the receiver and listen for the information. I think probably all 6 of the other households on our party line did the same thing.

There also was a signal on the phone (4 short rings) that meant there was some emergency and everyone was to go and listen on the phone.
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Old 08-01-2012, 08:34 AM
 
29,988 posts, read 37,775,668 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Djingodjango View Post
I am new to this site and I hate to start of with a request - but - I'm in the midst of putting together a story for a national magazine about suburban fire alarm/general alarm systems. It is amazing to me, as was mentioned earlier in this thread, that some places still rely on these often frighteningly loud systems to alert the local population to impending disasters. Having grown up in a little southern Vermont town (Wilmington) we knew by the code blasts from the horn where the fire was and where the fifteen (that was it in the mid 50's) volunteer firemen were to proceed. Even today, some 60 years later I live in a small central NH town and the blast still issues from the town fire tower. It used to be church bells and triangles, then horns, steam whistles and electric (or hand cranked) sirens. They have not gone away and are still a direct link to the past in many areas of the country. If you have any current or past stories about town alarm systems please drop me a line here and I will get back to you.
Djingodjango
The OP might look at the Capitol of South Dakota, Pierre. It has a volunteer FD and uses a loud horn/whistle type system to call in the firefighters. Frankly, sometimes it is a good thing to use something that has been reliable and worked for decades instead of modernizing and relying on a "grid tied" alarm, IMO. YMMV

Quote:
Originally Posted by Djingodjango View Post
But around here it is tested everyday at noon just a few steps from the town docks where all the tourists come. I do some busking in that area and I always wait for the two foot jump and *** from the unwary. Boy that thing is loud!
In Pierre it goes off at 10pm every night. I think it is to signal the rolling up of the sidewalks.
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Old 08-01-2012, 04:53 PM
 
Location: Central Maine
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Was a firefighter in a town in northern New England of about 15,000 people. Was a member of the volunteer fire department there on the ladder company. The town had a series of klaxon horns situated around that would "blow out" either the box alarm number (ie: 2-3-2 = Maple Street + Main Street box pulled) or three blows for a phoned in alarm. There was also a fire radio system as well but it was not portable.
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Old 08-01-2012, 06:53 PM
 
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Originally Posted by lifelongMOgal View Post
The OP might look at the Capitol of South Dakota, Pierre. It has a volunteer FD and uses a loud horn/whistle type system to call in the firefighters. Frankly, sometimes it is a good thing to use something that has been reliable and worked for decades instead of modernizing and relying on a "grid tied" alarm, IMO. YMMV

In Pierre it goes off at 10pm every night. I think it is to signal the rolling up of the sidewalks.
Yes, Pierre still blows the whistle, but the firefighters carry pagers. They might even use text messages. One of the radio stations announces the location of the call, or at least they used to announce it.
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Old 08-03-2012, 08:19 PM
 
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Originally Posted by lifelongMOgal View Post
In Pierre it goes off at 10pm every night. I think it is to signal the rolling up of the sidewalks.
10 pm? That's late! Ours (in my winter small town) goes off at 9 pm every night, AND when there's a fire or other emergency. It bothers the dog (she howls) but I'm used to it now - and the long-timers say they don't even notice it. I've asked the purpose of the daily siren - most say it's to make sure it's working in case there's an emergency, others say it once related to a teen curfew, others say it's just tradition.

Our fire dept is all volunteer, so the emergency siren is pretty necessary. Cell reception in our area is iffy.
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Old 08-03-2012, 10:23 PM
 
Location: Nebraska
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It may surprise you to know that the fire siren is now considered by Homeland Security/FEMA to be the best way to alert people to impending disasters.

The town where I used to live down South had a fire alarm everyone called "Big Red". Well, after everyone had cell phones, pagers, radios, and texting, the fire department decided that "Big Red" wasn't necessary any more; they let bats move in and left it up on the pole. Then during 9/11, when all of those police and FD radios failed inside the buildings, and the cel phone towers went down, guess what? The only way to communicate was by land line or person-to-person contact! Totally inefficient. While technology - when it works - is a wonderful thing, when it fails, you'd better have a backup plan. They fixed "Big Red".

Now I live in an even smaller town that not only uses the fire siren, but tests it every Tuesday at noon. When a mountain lion wandered right through the middle of town a few years back, the first thing a firefighter did was set off the siren. It is by far the most efficient way to instantly tell literally hundreds of people, sometimes thousands, to be alert, to be prepared, and to find out WTH is going on.
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Old 08-03-2012, 10:52 PM
 
Location: Valdez, Alaska
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Alarm? No, but if you hear sirens you pay attention, since it's rare. If something burns down around here you'll hear about it regardless. The city's alarm system is for general emergencies, primarily tsunamis, and they test it every Wednesday at 5pm.
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Old 08-04-2012, 10:02 PM
 
25,884 posts, read 32,445,049 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SCGranny View Post
It may surprise you to know that the fire siren is now considered by Homeland Security/FEMA to be the best way to alert people to impending disasters.

The town where I used to live down South had a fire alarm everyone called "Big Red". Well, after everyone had cell phones, pagers, radios, and texting, the fire department decided that "Big Red" wasn't necessary any more; they let bats move in and left it up on the pole. Then during 9/11, when all of those police and FD radios failed inside the buildings, and the cel phone towers went down, guess what? The only way to communicate was by land line or person-to-person contact! Totally inefficient. While technology - when it works - is a wonderful thing, when it fails, you'd better have a backup plan. They fixed "Big Red".

Now I live in an even smaller town that not only uses the fire siren, but tests it every Tuesday at noon. When a mountain lion wandered right through the middle of town a few years back, the first thing a firefighter did was set off the siren. It is by far the most efficient way to instantly tell literally hundreds of people, sometimes thousands, to be alert, to be prepared, and to find out WTH is going on.
What's old is now new again. Throwback to the cold war.
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Old 08-04-2012, 10:49 PM
 
Location: Cushing OK
14,547 posts, read 17,911,121 times
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I'd be happy to have one. Today, having gotten the AC in and it being decently cool inside, I barely poked my nose outside and didn't turn on the tv. Then we go to Walmart and there's a fire behind it and down the road it was evacuated. I had no clue. A loud alarm for with a pattern for a grass fire would absolutely help those like me who needed to literally chill.

Or a text alert in case your on the road or not home. I'm sure it could be done on a townwide basis. Even basic phones have text capability. Even if the power was out the text would reach people.
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Old 08-05-2012, 08:03 AM
 
Location: Western Nebraskansas
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Our community calls that system "Code Red," nightbird. It's a community wide notification system that leaves VM on your phone, or texts, whichever you signed up for.
Town of 700 in rural, western Nebraska.
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