A Picture of Postwar Communications Programs

A Picture of Postwar Communications Programs

The Fire Service Will Spend Millions of Dollars for Necessary Post-War Communications*

IN an effort to determine the extent to which the Fire Service is preparing plans and programs for post-war construction and purchasing, the International Association of Fire Chiefs has just completed a survey among cities of five thousand population and over.

The Chiefs of Fire Departments in these communities were asked to list certain improvements that might be made in their cities “assuming that money can be made available.”

This list included two items bearing upon fire service communications:

  1. New fire alarm headquarters.
  2. What new fire alarm apparatus, boxes and circuits might be added.

In answer to question number one, 142 cities reported they contemplated, or intended to erect a new fire alarm headquarters. Fifteen additional cities stated the headquarters would be provided for in a new fire station or other Departmental structure. A further eleven cities signified their intention of remodeling their present fire alarm building.

This is a total of 168 municipalities which contemplate construction of a new fire alarm headquarters, or rebuilding present facilities.

It is difficult to estimate the amount of money involved in this building program. A number of Chiefs reported appropriations for such construction (independent of costs of new equipment or complete fire alarm telegraph or radio systems) running all the way from $5,000 to over half a million dollars; Conservative estimates would place the proposed building and repair program for this “nerve center” of the Fire Service at from $2,500,000 to $5,000,000, exclusive of fire alarm signal equipment.

Among the comments bearing on this question made by reporting chiefs the following are pertinent:

“We plan to abandon two stations and construct a new headquarters building to house our fire alarm headquarters

“Will build a small fire-proof building

“We will either improve present structure or build a new one.

“Our new fire alarm hearquarters will be included in a new Department Shop and Storage Building adjacent to present building.

“The new fire alarm headquarters has long been recommended by the National Board of Fire Underwriters

“This improvement has been repeatedly recommended by the National Board of Fire Underwriters

A number of respondents reported that they had no “fire alarm telegraph” as they depended solely on the telephone for fire communications. Some of these expressed a wish for modern systems.

The chief of one city said: “Send us all dope on the subject. We have the money and are in a position to buy.” Another indicated the city would purchase office equipment for its new headquarters building. One city set the price of its new fire alarm headquarters at $350,000 exclusive of apparatus, etc.; another on the Pacific Coast will report it will spend $750,000 on its Fire Alarm System, including construction.

Extensive Fire Alarm Additions Included in Programs

Answers to No. 2 question: “What new fire alarm apparatus, boxes and circuits might be added” were even more illuminating:


Number of complete new systems desired, 118.

Number that will “change over” present systems, 6.

Number that will “extend” present systems, 6.

Number that will improve (modernize) systems, 12.

Number that will “rebuild’” present systems, 6.

Number that will “overhaul” present systems, 5.

Total number that will install complete new systems or mprove systems 153


Number of cities that will install, replace or rebuild boxes, 289.

Total number of boxes to be installed, 14,489.

Number that will install “some” boxes, 30.

Number that will “rebuild” boxes, 2.

Number that reported they would install “many” boxes, 2.

Number that will make yearly “replacements,’” 2.

Number that will install new boxes on yearly schedule, 2.

Number that will “relocate” boxes, 1

Number of boxes to replace “old’ boxes, 2,900.

(Includes 2016 for one city)

Number that will replace “all” old boxes, 4.

Number that will replace “some” old boxes, 4.

Number of new circuits to be added, 405.

Number of cities that will install “new” circuits or additional circuits, 118.”

Number that will install new circuits, extend or rebuild old ones, 129.

Number that will add “some” circuits, 19.

Number that will “extend” circuits, 7.

Number that will “rebuild” circuits, 4.

Number that will “re-wire” circuits, 5.


Number that will install radio communication systems, 8.

Number (of above) that specify 2-way,

Number that will install “loud speaker” units, 4.

Number that specified “radio transmitter,” 1.


Total amount of wire and cable to be ordered, 808,440 feet.

Feet of wire specified 674,120 (26.400 specified as “copper”)

Feet of cable specified 134.320.

Number that specified “some” wire or cable, 2.

Number that will install “all new” cable, 1.

Number that will install “new underground,” 1.

Number that will change from overhead to underground, 2.

Number that will install “much” wire and cable, 1.

Note: One respondent will install

“considerable cable” to hook up adjoining communities in a mutual aid arrangement. Footage not specified.


Switchboards (Telephone), 3.

Rectifiers, 1.

Charging Board, 1.

Repeaters, 4.

Transmitter, 11 (also 1 radio transmitter).

Air horn, 5.

Whistle, 1 (Re-locate whistle 1).

Compressor, 1.

Siren-—coded, 3.

New Board (panel board, etc.), 15. (1 for 30 circuits).

Registers, 4.

Batteries, 1 (100 units).

“Repairs”, 1.

“Rewiring”, 2.

“Headquarters apparatus”, 6.

“Redistribution of wires”, 3 (1 to cover entire city).

“Cells”, 1.

“New’ equipment”, 1.

A Word of Warning

Encouraging as are the results of this study, the fact remains that too many municipalities are unprepared with in telligent post-war programs for improving their fire service. This is particularly true of fire alarm communications Indications are, furthermore, that the end of hostilities will catch many of these cities and towns still without any comprehensive plans or recommenda tions.

Now is the time for fire chiefs to go into “executive session” with their heads of communications to develop programs of communications improvements that will be in line with other fire service “streamlining.” As a further thought— don’t overlook radio!

Other phases of this survey are covered in Mr. Shepperd’s companion article “What 1mpovements Are Ahead for the Fire Service?” published elsewhere in this issue. Note: If it is desired to prorate these improvements to cover all municipalities of 5000 and over, instead of only those cities and towns reporting, multiply the totals given by 2.26 as is done in the above mentioned article.

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