Knowledge of Fire Alarm Box Location
One of the greatest causes of delay in notifying the fire department of a fire by a citizen on whose premises the blaze originates is the lack of knowledge of the location of the fire alarm boxes in the city. A case in point was that of a property owner in Indianapolis, Ind., who discovered a fire in the basement of bis home and tried for several minutes to get in touch with the telephone central operator so as to notify the fire department. The delay in obtaining this connection caused a loss to him of several hundred dollars, as the fire was far advanced when he was able to reach the department and give the alarm. Afterward he admitted that he knew nothing of the presence of a fire alarm box which was on the corner of the street on which his residence was situated. It was said that the fire department came in for considerable unjust criticism for this delay, as it was absolutely blameless in the matter. If this citizen had taken the trouble to acquaint himself with the location of the fire alarm box, his property would probably have been saved from serious damage.
This is by no means an isolated case. If one were to inquire at random of a dozen citizens of a city the location of the nearest fire alarm box to their property, it is very probable that six or eight of these individuals would be unable to answer the question, and yet this is one of the most vital matters connected with fire protection. It is a trite but nevertheless true saying that the first five minutes of a fire are the critical ones and the delay in notifying the department of a blaze often results, as in the present case, in serious loss and sometimes even the sacrificing of precious lives.
An excellent plan adopted by some cities and towns is the printing of cards giving the location of the nearest fire alarm box and the distribution of them to property owners throughout the municipality for the purpose of posting these signs in a conspicuous place so that a person detecting a fire would instantly know where to give the alarm. An even better plan would be the adoption of a city ordinance requiring the placing of these signs in the most advantageous position by every householder or apartment owner in the municipality. This would be especially applicable to the hallways of apartment houses where these signs should be displayed plainly and in a position where they can readily be seen. This plan would entail very little extra expense to the municipality and its results would be the quick notification of the fire department when in many cases serious delays and heavy losses would otherwise be the consequence.