12-07-2001, 03:28 PM #1
Souythbridge, MA...Back to Bells...
Southbridge, MA is a small city in south-central Massachussets served by about 30 career and 15 call firefighters.
Southbridge must resort to tried-and-true fire alarm
Thursday, December 6, 2001
By Bill Fortier
Telegram & Gazette Staff
SOUTHBRIDGE-- Firefighters are relying on old-fashioned technology to figure out where box alarms in town are coming from.
It all started about 2 p.m. Tuesday, when the Fire Department's horn began blasting repeatedly for about 10 minutes. For those who don't know, that horn can wake the soundest sleeper on the farthest side of town.
Fire Department personnel disconnected the fuses that run the horn, and silence once again fell upon the town.
Fire Capt. Roland LaRochelle said yesterday the computer that runs the horn malfunctioned just before 2 p.m. Tuesday, causing the piece of equipment that is tested every day at 6 p.m. to sound.
The horn is also used for general alarm fires and to announce parking bans and school cancellations.
All of the town's box alarms are connected to the system run by the computer, Capt. LaRochelle said.
While technicians work to fix the approximately 12-year-old computer-based system, firefighters will have to rely on what Capt. LaRochelle called an old, reliable system that worked for 100 years to determine the site of a box alarm: Box alarms come in on a tape system that is decoded by consulting a chart at the fire station.
“That system worked really well for a long time,” Capt. LaRochelle said.
There is very little difference in response time between the two systems, according to Capt. LaRochelle, adding that firefighters can check the chart while changing into their firefighting gear.
Schools and public buildings, as well as the hospital and many businesses are connected to the 150 box alarms in the town's alarm infrastructure, Capt. LaRochelle said.
“The problem is being addressed,” Capt. LaRochelle said. But he doesn't know when residents will again hear the fire horn sounding throughout the town.
IACOJ Canine Officer
12-08-2001, 02:13 PM #2
I wish somebody around here still had street boxes! Granted there was a false alarm problem, but it was still a great system....
12-08-2001, 05:33 PM #3
My town and the town next to me have street boxes still... the other town (Perth Amboy) is looking into getting rid of them. My town (South Amboy) are most likely keeping them being that our town is pretty small and we really dont have problems with false alarms. Perth Amboy isnt to bad cause people know better but still they get more false alarms then us.Andrew
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