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Thread: We have this horn...

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    Default We have this horn...

    My department has a really cool box system. We have numbered Gamewell municipal pull boxes (see below) these transmit via mostly phone lines to our station. Then an antique telegraph ticks out the box number: 2,44,33,241 etc. Then it goes to our Digitize which beeps to signal an alarm, transmits a tone to set off our pagers, and it then initiates a 45 second countdown to alert transmission. The instant the timer reaches zero,
    three massive air horns, perched in a tower above our station, blast out the box number: 2 blasts for box 2; 4 then 4 for box 44 etc. these blasts are emitted 4 times. The purpose of this is because we are a volunteer dept., at night, responding units can know what the location is without going to the station first. So command can be established and conditions can be known very quickly, thus saving time and maybe even lives. These horns can be heard over 7 miles away.

    Anyway, my question is: does anyone else out there have a system like this?
    I am absolutely determined to find out who made or designed this system.
    So if your department has something even similar to this, or if you know of a department that does, please tell me, and if possible leave dept. website.
    I hope to have a video of our system in action on our website in a couple of months.
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    So, when it sets your pagers off, what comes over them? Is there a dispatcher that says the alarm is Box 44 at Main Street and Bob's Road?? Or do the pagers just go off and you have to run outside and listen for the horns? If so, my god that is ancient!!
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Gamewell. That's where we got our system from. Still have the pieces but most of it's not in service anymore. Box closest to my house was 3-2. No school for the day was 5-0 (liked that one).
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Quote Originally Posted by FFDexplorer2
    My department has a really cool box system. We have numbered Gamewell municipal pull boxes (see below) these transmit via mostly phone lines to our station. Then an antique telegraph ticks out the box number: 2,44,33,241 etc. Then it goes to our Digitize which beeps to signal an alarm, transmits a tone to set off our pagers, and it then initiates a 45 second countdown to alert transmission. The instant the timer reaches zero,
    three massive air horns, perched in a tower above our station, blast out the box number: 2 blasts for box 2; 4 then 4 for box 44 etc. these blasts are emitted 4 times. The purpose of this is because we are a volunteer dept., at night, responding units can know what the location is without going to the station first. So command can be established and conditions can be known very quickly, thus saving time and maybe even lives. These horns can be heard over 7 miles away.

    Anyway, my question is: does anyone else out there have a system like this?
    I am absolutely determined to find out who made or designed this system.
    So if your department has something even similar to this, or if you know of a department that does, please tell me, and if possible leave dept. website.
    I hope to have a video of our system in action on our website in a couple of months.
    Your neighbors must LOVE you
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    Anyway, my question is: does anyone else out there have a system like this?

    In the 21st Century, I certainly hope not. At least not by itself.

    Last place I knew of to use a similiar such system was Palmer, MA which replaced it with standard voice dispatching in 1990.

    Prior to that, their telegraph system tripped their pager tones, then would tap the box number out over the air. I assume they used it in conjunction with air horns, too.

    As well as this system met a need in it's day, I don't think they should still be used -- filter everything through your normal dispatch office...let them sort out multiple alarms, simultaneous alarms, etc before tripping pagers.

    ========
    Also, I'd be very, very surprise if you truly use "phone" lines -- the cost would be astronomical, I'm talking solidly into tens of thousands of dollars a year in leased line costs.

    Every telegraph system I've seen uses it's own wires.

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    Ancient technology from the days before radio comms and pagers... and yes, we had it too.. until the mid 1980's and only for working fires.
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    I hope you don't have a box 9978 or something.
    --jay.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42
    Gamewell. That's where we got our system from. Still have the pieces but most of it's not in service anymore. Box closest to my house was 3-2. No school for the day was 5-0 (liked that one).
    Are you selling any old pull boxes? If so I would like to add to my collection.

    Quote Originally Posted by NYsmokey
    Your neighbors must LOVE you.
    Yeah they do... actually, we don't have many alarms, maybe one every week, so its not an every day thing.People actually like the system, we give out papers that have our phone numbers and all of the box codes. People like to know what is going on.Every box is associated with a specific building, ie: the high school=145; the middle school=33; and box 44 is our all out signal. There is a box outside the station that is pulled by the first unit to reach the station on a reported structure fire. The county dispatches us most of the time and they are suposed to strike box 44 when they dispatch us to any type of building fire, but they never do, they aren't good at dispatching... and when the box is sent to the pagers there is a recording of our dispatcher that says "Attention all Farmington Fire monitors, respond to your station for an incoming box alarm." that is played right after the tone.


    Quote Originally Posted by Dalmation190
    Also, I'd be very, very surprise if you truly use "phone" lines -- the cost would be astronomical, I'm talking solidly into tens of thousands of dollars a year in leased line costs.

    Every telegraph system I've seen uses it's own wires.
    Forgive me, we use telephone wire but separate from the phone system itself. It has its own line system, but the wires are the same. Some boxes arent actually boxes the alarm signal is transmitted wirelessly from the buildings FACP. These tend to be on newer buildings to save the cost of wiring and a pull box.



    Please note that we have a volunteer department and we serve a small town of 6,000. We don't even have our own full time dispatcher. We have one but she works on a per call baisis, usually major incidents. I would like to dispatch for our dept. full time, but thats a city dream... not gonna happen.
    Last edited by FFDexplorer2; 04-18-2006 at 12:53 PM.
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    Never mind...it's not even worth trying to straighten this mess out.
    Last edited by Dalmatian190; 04-18-2006 at 03:36 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dalmatian190
    Never mind...it's not even worth trying to straighten this mess out.
    Exactly what are you trying to straighten out? They have a system that works for them. What is the problem? Are there better/newer systems out there in the world, of course, but if their's works FOR THEM, what is broke?
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    I guess if it works... It is unlikely they would ever manage to get the tax funding to support a 24/7 dispatch center or contract with another center and build the radio infrastructure.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    We just recently put our gamewell boxes out of service due to the cost of maintenance on them I think it was costing us $2000 a box so we finally put them OOS. They were a pain anyway because of false alarms by kids
    Andrew
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    Exactly what are you trying to straighten out?

    Well, I started to reply that there's no reason for the attitude of we're volunteer, we're small, we're poor meaning they can't afford 24x7 fire dispatching -- rural communities through out the nation have formed regional dispatches and have been running them for decades upon decades to meet this need.

    One only needs to go a half hour or so west of him to get into the Southwestern New Hampshire Fire Mutual Aid system, whose Keene dispatch center handles something like 70 primarily small towns in three states.

    But then I re-read his last post...and I guess I wasn't alone...

    NMFire wrote: It is unlikely they would ever manage to get the tax funding to support a 24/7 dispatch center or contract with another center and build the radio infrastructure

    No, tucked into the last posting was they are dispatched by the county, he just doesn't believe the county does a good job.

    So they pull the box on the front of the station, since the county often doesn't strike box 44 like they should, but if we go back to the original post wasn't the great thing that box numbers let you know exactly where the call was before you got to the station...but then again, if people are going to the station to pull the box, I'm assuming they're getting voice dispatched by the county, which makes you wonder why the pulling a box is necessary...

    My head started to spin I have nothing against FFDExplorer2's enthusiasm and interest in their telegraph system / radio interfrace, and I think that's great and I'm the type who would've been that kid. HOWEVER, it's also important to know that there are ways to work together and have regional systems that meets modern fire service needs better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dalmatian190
    Exactly what are you trying to straighten out?

    there's no reason for the attitude of we're volunteer, we're small, we're poor meaning they can't afford 24x7 fire dispatching -- rural communities through out the nation have formed regional dispatches and have been running them for decades upon decades to meet this need.

    One only needs to go a half hour or so west of him to get into the Southwestern New Hampshire Fire Mutual Aid system, whose Keene dispatch center handles something like 70 primarily small towns in three states.

    But then I re-read his last post...and I guess I wasn't alone...

    NMFire wrote: It is unlikely they would ever manage to get the tax funding to support a 24/7 dispatch center or contract with another center and build the radio infrastructure

    No, tucked into the last posting was they are dispatched by the county, he just doesn't believe the county does a good job.

    So they pull the box on the front of the station, since the county often doesn't strike box 44 like they should, but if we go back to the original post wasn't the great thing that box numbers let you know exactly where the call was before you got to the station...but then again, if people are going to the station to pull the box, I'm assuming they're getting voice dispatched by the county, which makes you wonder why the pulling a box is necessary...

    My head started to spin I have nothing against FFDExplorer2's enthusiasm and interest in their telegraph system / radio interfrace, and I think that's great and I'm the type who would've been that kid. HOWEVER, it's also important to know that there are ways to work together and have regional systems that meets modern fire service needs better.
    The Lakes Region Fire Dispatch Center is one town north of here, but it is extremely expensive, and we cant even dream of affording it. Lakes Region is one of the best dispatch centers in our state. The county is our only other option. and its not just my opinion that they suck. If you had ever heard them dispatch us...

    This is an example of the county dispatching us:

    "Tone; Tone... Strafford to...... Farmington Fire Please Respond to.............123.....Fake St. for................a reported .... person called and said they have ...... a leak in their furnace....." ( repeat, minus tone, with different info)

    the"..." signifies a pause in her speech.

    Let me give you an example of Lakes Region:

    "tone;... Lakes Region to New Durham, Chest pain: alpha level. 166 old Bay Rd. The so-and-so Residence." (repeat, minus tone)

    Much different. If we could afford it we would have a better dispatch center, but it was a hard enough 5 years trying to convince the selectmen to let us get a new ambulance...

    Yes the system does work for us. But what I want is, does anybody have one, even one that is OOS? Or old telegraph boxes. I am looking to find pieces of a system like this to build a second one, or even work on the first.
    I just want to know if this is/was an uncommon thing.

    And I do know that communities work together like that... but we just happen to be in a group that just cant do better. I think this is a good idea for towns that are isolated dispatch wise like us. This has no practical use in a town dispatched by say Lakes Region, but there are only 2 towns in our mutual aid area that are dipatched by Strafford county. For the rest of them, we have to get on the phone with Lakes Region or Rochester Fire Alarm, or Rockingham county dispatch. etc. we just have to accept what we have until we can afford other, better options.
    Last edited by FFDexplorer2; 04-19-2006 at 01:44 PM.
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    i think he was trying to say not to build your own but why dont u have that town dispatch you as well then? shouldnt cost hardly anything.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maverick9110E
    i think he was trying to say not to build your own but why dont u have that town dispatch you as well then? shouldnt cost hardly anything.
    What town? And i didnt really mean build my own, but i collect things like boxes and old alarms and such...
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    why dont you just convince The Lakes Region Fire Dispatch Center to dispatch you guys?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maverick9110E
    why dont you just convince The Lakes Region Fire Dispatch Center to dispatch you guys?
    Because on this planet, it doesn't work like that. Services don't get provided just for free ha-ha's. Contracting dispatch services is not that simple and it isn't without significant cost to the center in equipment, labor, training, procedure, and personel. It requires the agency getting the services to spend a lot of time planning and writing procedures, coming up with the funding, and then actually implimenting it.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nmfire
    Because on this planet, it doesn't work like that. Services don't get provided just for free ha-ha's. Contracting dispatch services is not that simple and it isn't without significant cost to the center in equipment, labor, training, procedure, and personel. It requires the agency getting the services to spend a lot of time planning and writing procedures, coming up with the funding, and then actually implimenting it.
    He is exactly correct, and if we could we would, but the $65,000 to get them to impliment us is just not available. And I am told it costs upwards of $25,000 per year. Strafford is the best we can afford.
    Courage is not the abscence of fear, but the realization that there is something more important than fear.

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    Default 5-2-06

    Just so you guys know, the horns actually come in handy. Yesterday we had a box at the middle school and there was a problem with our paging system.
    The box was transmitted but our pagers weren't activated. The only people who knew there was an alarm were myself, the ambulance crew on duty, and another firefighter. The other firefighter and I were in a close enough vicinity that the horns alerted us. The EMS crew was in the station and attempted to page, but the system was malfunctioning. The radio was not working either.

    Our response time for the box struck at 2:47pm Monday, May 1st, 2006
    was 12 minutes.

    12 minutes and we couldve had a fully involved structure fire. Fortunately there was no fire.

    12 minutes because our paging system malfunctioned and only 1 firefighter and 1 explorer heard the horns.

    12 minutes.

    I wonder what could have happened. What if nobody had heard the horns?

    Would the call have been unanswered?
    Courage is not the abscence of fear, but the realization that there is something more important than fear.

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    pagers weren't activated
    Been there, done that. Basically why people say to leave the horn system in place as a backup.

    By the way, does anyone ever complain about the horns?
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Default Complaints

    Actually no, people ask occasionally what was going on, but they are pretty good about it.
    Courage is not the abscence of fear, but the realization that there is something more important than fear.

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    our city still has an extensive gamewell system.

    we have the normal boxes on poles on the corners, and
    also boxes on business. Their internal fire alarms are hooked
    into the gamewell system, and when the internal alarm activates,
    it activates the box.

    the gamewell system is tied directly to all the fire stations,
    where it rings the bells, punches the "ticker tape" and blows
    the horns.

    We also are dispatched by our county 911 system, who also
    receives the alarm directly.

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    We still have horns mounted above our station. I've been told many different things about them. The generaliztion I've come to is that they were once part of a fire alarm system, but they're not used anymore, I'm not even sure if it's there for a backup or what. It may be used for a tornado alert siren since I don't think we have one on that end of town. I assume that there were pull boxes as part of this system, but I have no idea. I'm also told that back in the 90's we used to have something that would print a report of the call at the door that the first engine would take, I guess that was done away with though.

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    Funny thing about our sirens (The old british style WW2 air raid type) some guys sleep through the bugger only 1/2 a mile away.

    Yet on a calm night, many is the time the wife and I have been out on the back deck and heard the soul moving, quiet, mournfull wail of our compatriots siren 12 miles away through the valley.

    Looked at each other and smiled that "wait for it" smile, for a multiple station call to crack off across the back fence.
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