Fire Alarm and Police Signal Box Records*

Fire Alarm and Police Signal Box Records*

The records of a fire alarm and police signal boxes are kept on a card index, one card for each signal box, whether fire or police. The card records of the fire signal boxes are in charge of the chief operator of the Electrical Bureau and are made out in his division. The card is 5 by 8 inches and besides the heading, which reads: “Fire Signal Box Record, Electrical Bureau, Philadelphia,” it has spaces to enter the box number, street location, corner opposite, front of building location, box owned by, type door—key or keyless, number of circuit connected on—overhead or underground, date installed. Underneath all this data is a record of dates on which the fire box was pulled and why, showing dates, nature of trouble, if any, and” by whom pulled. All entries are made in black ink except the record of when the box was pulled for fire, when the entry is made in red ink. On the reverse side of this card is entered: From whom the box was purchased, the date purchased, the address and the final disposition of the box, with the date. Then there is a line for the history of the box; for such entries as keyless door installed, 8-1-98; remodeled 9-12-08; speeded 5-26-15, but underneath these entries is more space for the record of the inspection and pulling of the boxes. A second card, 6 by 4 inches is kept, showing the number of the box, date received, from whom purchased, type, location, date assigned to that location, date installed and installed on; showing circuit numbers and whether overhead or underground; a space for remarks. A number of boxes are entered on each of these cards and they are used as a short history of the box and as a check on the delivery and erection of each box and then filed away yearly. A third card, size 81/2 by 11 inches, is kept for each signal circuit and is known as Signal Circuit Card. Besides the heading on this card, which reads; Signal Circuit No., are four columns for: Stations, the first column reading: Stations, beginning on left side and is always headed with City Hall, where the fire alarm operating room is located. In these columns are entered every station on that particular signal circuit in the order in which they come, including fire signal boxes, test stations, cable poles or any place the wire might be connected to. The fifth column is headed: Protective Equipment and in it is shown the various testing stations, in the order in which they occur, and the equipment of each so that a test operator at headquarters may know exactly what kind of a test he can make with each station. There is also entered into the column what kind and size fuses are mounted on the various cable poles. The sixth column is a double column headed: Insulation Resistance, with one part for date and the other part for Megohms per mile. On the reverse side of this card are six columns, showing date, nature of trouble, lineman assigned, where trouble is located by test, where found and the cause of the trouble. We find that this gives a very complete record for each signal circuit. Two books are kept, in the nature of day books, where all this data is entered as it occurs and each night this information is transferred to the Fire Box and Signal Circuit cards. A card similar to the Fire Signal Box card is kept for each Police Patrol Signal Box by the division head in charge of that branch of the Bureau and is headed: Police Signal Box Record, Electrical Bureau, Philadelphia. Directly under the heading are provided spaces for box number, street location, corner, opposite, front of, district, location of district station house, type, date installed, box number changed from, date changed, box number changed to, date of change, date moved to present location. Under this data is a record of the dates the box was inspected, showing date, nature of trouble, if any, and inspected by. On the reverse side is entered: Bought from, date, address, final disposition, date, history of changes in box, with more room for inspections. This inspection information is gathered from forms for reports of troubles, daily report slips of inspectors and inspector’s reports, which the inspectors fill up and turn in each day, showing a history of each piece of trouble or inspection; this includes the nature of the trouble or inspection, what was found or done, the time reported, if trouble, time detailed, time trouble was cleared, or inspections were made, carfare, railroad tickets or cash spent and when the man returned to the office or went to the next piece of trouble or inspection. All these forms are the same size as the Fire and Police Signal cards and are filed away in the same cabinet with the Police Signal cards. From these reports is also made up a daily report for the Chief of the Bureau and is laid on his desk by 9 o’clock each morning, of the previous day’s work, showing: Division, report of (Div’n head) for day, employees, late, absent on leave, without leave, suspended, accidents, complaints, in the cases of fire, police or high pressure work, box hours out of service, number of jobs, started, finished for both maintenance or new work, inspections and any remarks you choose to make, from these Division Head Daily Reports is made up a daily report of the complete workings of the Bureau, which is on the Director of the Department of Public Safety’s desk by eleven o’clock a. m. each day. In addition to these card records we keep diagrams of each signal and patrol circuit, drawn to scale and showing all stations, cable poles, boxes, etc., and whether the wires are overhead or underground. There is another type of record which we take to determine the efficiency of any fire or signal box or boxes, other than those we have in use. We first compare them, part by part, giving a percentage of efficiency to each part compared, using 100 per cent, for each of the parts of the box in use by us. We then strike an average and if the result is considered good enough, we purchase a number of boxes and put them in service. We then keep an exact record of the list of troubles developing for a considerable length of time, comparing them each month with the general average of troubles reported from all of our boxes in service.

*Abstract of paper read at the annual convention of the International Association of Municipal Electricians, held at Cincinnati, O., Aug. 24-27, 1915.

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