1. #1
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    Default Waking in the dead of night...

    My department is currently remodeling our living quarters and the topic of alerting systems has been given much discussion. Presently, we use a Minitor III pager with amplified charger in the bunk room as our only alert system.

    The department previously used a bell system, but some firefighters complained that they were entirely too loud... And were too startling to serve as a good method to wake the troops up.

    What does your station use? Bells? Tones? House lights? Red night lighting? Something else? Any & all input would be helpful.

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    Minitor III, that tones, which are also connected through an amplifier and relay to the claxton and speaker systems, and a couple stations also have lights that go on. In my station we keep it on open carrier so you hear part of the tone, but you also hear other companies going out. At night its not much of a problem being we keep the volume down in the bedroom. The only thing with the lights is we put it on a 2 minute timer down from 5. If its more then a 2 company call we use a citywide tone which opens all stations and if its not you the lights seem to take forever to go out.

    I've been in some stations in Florida when visiting family and they have a system that is a progressive tone system that increases in volume and then sounds a claxton. I thought it was great, but our system is already in place here and I don't know who made them.

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    At my house we have pagers in the dorm and a station alerting system from a mobile motorola radio that beeps. The dorm light comes on at night. We don't have to worry about anyone else left in the bunk room since it's a 3 man company and 1 goes we all go.

    *Mark
    FTM-PTB-RFB-EGH

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    Bells baby bells!! .....2 rings for EMS and 3 for fire....what a rush!
    IACOJ Membership 2002
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    Mike IAFF

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    We have alert tones with house lights. The tone is split into two volumes...the first section of the tone is low voulme, the second section is amplified and the house lights come in with that one. At my station, the house lights are on a timer.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    Between 08:00 and 21:00 hrs. we have a single bell alert and then the dispatch. Between 21:00 and 08:00 hrs. we have a two part tone of which the second part activates a claxton and in a couple of houses (mine being one of them) bells that ring for 5 seconds, as well as activation of the lights which stay on for three minutes.
    "I have no ambition in this world but one, and that is to be a fireman. The position may, in the eyes of some, appear to be a lowly one; but we know the work which a fireman has to do believe that his is a noble calling."

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    You guy's sleep at night?
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    Tone, voice, then bells and lights....not as bad as the old 14" diameter mechanical bell that could raise - or create - the dead.

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    We recently opened a new station, and with the new station came a new 'soft' tone system. When we get a call there are 3 short, loud beeps and then the system opens up and you hear the dispatcher. It is better than the old 2 tone system, that loud, blaring, heart attack system sucks, unless you like waking up with chest pain. I recently went by the station where my brother works in another city and they have a real 'soft' tone system. It starts out real low and progressivly gets louder and then opens up to dispatch. It sounds like aliens landing but I realy liked it, it's the best system I've heard and they say no one realy sleeps through them. I think it's a Zetron system.

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    We get a voice with a brief message saying the nature of the call, then tones, Low - Hi, then they give the info for the call. Same thing day or night, BTW.

    We'll get: "Station 74, fire call (or medical emergency, etc.)" then the tones, then "Station 74, you have a fire call at 123 Blah Blah St. (or medical emergency, where they give the address and the nature of the emergency.)

    Of course, we also have some - not all, happily - who mess everything up, but that's a rant for another day.
    E-4-A
    IAFF 1176

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    We are on a Zetron system, that is, tones start out low, gradually increase in volume, then the lights are tripped. Dispatcher tell us what, where, blah blah, then we hit the acknowledgement button to let the dispatcher know the assigned units are rolling. Lights stay on for about 2 minutes, so if in a multi company house where all units are not on the assignment, the lights will go out. If it isn't your house, you will hear the dispatch and radio traffic, but not too loudly. Here is a small problem. When I was still a private, if the tone, lights and announcement somehow didn't rouse you awake, the other guys moving and getting dressed would usually do the trick, or else they would kick your bed. Now I am a Lt., with my own sleeping quarters, and once or twice, I've woken up in the middle of the night with the lights on in the office, and no noise on the talk alarm. Hmm, we must have a run, I think to myself as I start to get dressed, and then comes the knock. "Hey!, Loo!, Ya coming?" Dammit. "Yeah, I'm coming." Well, problem solved by a spare portable on the chair next to the bed with the volume all the way up. Whole new problem. Now I get blown through the cinderblock wall into the kitchen every time somebody is going out, no matter who it is. Hmm. Maybe there is something to those old bell systems after all. Anybody else in this same boat as me? Solutions or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. BTW, the fellas would never leave without anyone, so that is not an option.

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    Oops, one more thing. Since this new system, FH has chosen to not let me use my old name. It's still Leroy140, Fairfield, CT Local 1426

    Leroy140

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    we got an audible system in our houses, from 2100 to 0700 hrs we get one long tone followed by 3 short tones, during the day we just get the 3 tones.
    In some of the houses that have been renovated in the last 10 or so yrs they also have the house lights wired in , they come on for 2 or 3 mins. Fire alarm can also raise the doors for us too. Being in the newer houses it is nice ( if you can call it nice) when you wake up at nite to a room thats already lighted up. At the older houses ( like mine) you wake up to the tones in darkness and make your way to the poles.

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    Leroy, I had a similar problem in the last house I was assigned to. The same system for alerting without the house lights wired in. The Captain liked to turn the alarm volume down at night (he has a Minitor III at the head of his bed). There were more times then one that both the engineer and myself slept through an alarm. Finally had to start turning the volume up after the Captain went to bed. It was a really slow station anyways and didn't get many calls there.

    *Mark
    FTM-PTB-RFB-EGH

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    We have a high-low tone followed by a warrble (sp?) tone. Then a voice message consisting of the companies responding, the address and nature of the call that goes out to every house. Lights, that are on a timer, go on in the bunkrooms and on the apparatus floor.


    OK, that's the it was designed to work, but here's the reality.
    Due to the innovative nature of firefighters there have been some "modifications" over the years. Where the tones and the voice message are consistent, the volume and acoustics varry from house to house. There is a legendary story about a speaker, a towel and a pis*ed off chief that we'll save for another time. The timers on the lights varries from house to house ranging from about 10 seconds to 2 minutes of duration. In the past, in the bunkroom, some of the bulbs have been removed, been painted red or were burnt out and not reported. The present administration has a fairly agressive house maintanance policy that has been taking care of these "problems".

    Leroy, got a laugh out of the name change. Thought it might have went to your head. Just bustin cuz. Hope Zoom made it home alright.
    FTM-PTB-EGH-RFB-KTF

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    I wish I could figure this system out. I didn't have to login this time, I am just on as plain old Leroy. Anyway, Jerzz.....ROFLMAO!!! The Zoom is an old pro..Some of our guys found him leaning against a wall in Grand Central Sta., eating a sangwich half passed out at around 23:30. They "guided" him to the proper train, and that tough old goat was at work the next morning, no worse for the wear. An old Vietnam vet, the Zoom. Brown Water Navy, PBR's and the like. Now, Gonz, The Zoom would DEFINITELY qualify as a superior grade of crust! Jerzz, I'll catch up to ya later, when I've got more time. Then we can really hang out.
    Leroy140 Fairfield, CT Local 1426

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    lieutleroy140 - Our officers with the same sleeping problem solved it this way: they moved back into the bunkroom with the rest of us. We use Zetron also but no lights. We keep it turned up a bit more than other houses, but its rare that anyone sleeps through it.

    Solution for houses with loud bells (we still have them but must be rung from the watch room now) - put a helmet rubber band (the kind you make from old inner tubes) aroung the bell. Quiets it enough that you still wake up, but without the chest pains.
    See You At The Big One

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    Default Despatch tones

    In New Zealand we have a system where a selcal tone is recieved by a base radio set at each station. If the signal is for your house the lights come on and a warble tone starts quiet and becomes louder progressivly. This lasts about ten seconds then the voice announcement comes over the same speakers of the assignment. About thirty seconds after it all starts another relay opens the doors of the station and these will close again two minutes later on a timer with the lights also going out then.
    System generally works well but then we are mainly not involved in EMS calls
    Jim Maclean. IACOJ NZ branch

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    Using a commercial half time buzzer (like at a hockey game) along with a pager back-up. Some interesting reactions to getting knocked out of bed with something this loud.

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    Well I am a junior at a volunteer department. We only have 1 paid guy who is there from 8am-5pm so the base is manned during the day and in the evening when we get a call we have no problem getting trucks out. But our system consists of a minitor 2 in a amplified charger which is connected to a siren out back. When the pager alerts the siren goes. It is loud and goes around 8 full times. If you can sleep through this then you got problems. Boy do I feel sorry for the people that live next to the firehouse.

    Matt

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    Red face

    You guys get to sleep that must be nice. I wish we worked 24 hr shifts.
    "Bravery is the capacity to perform properly even when scared half to death."

    Gen. Omar Bradley

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    Default Dead of Night

    We have only one staffed firehouse in the city. We have what we call the "ring down" which is a direct telephone line from the 911 center, except it has a louder, distinctive ring. In our bedroom, we have a light next to the telephone that trips on whenever the telephone (or ring down) goes off. When we pick up the ring down, the speakers open all over the building (in theory-they don't always work perfectly) and everybody is supposed to be able to hear the conversation between the dispatcher and the person answering the ring down.

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    At my station after 2200 dispatch first says " standby for tone" then the tone, one loud ***** horn, then voice dispatch. All of which are designed to wake us in a nice and fu@*ing delightful way




    E-3 Johnson City, TN
    Local 1791 IAFF

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