The Last Word in Fire Alarm Efficiency
Description of the Newly Installed Telegraph Fire Alarm System of Fall River—Some Important Features—System of Digit Numbers
IMPROVEMENTS are continually being made in fire alarm systems, and the modern and up-to-date installation is always of interest. The following description of the Fall River telegraph fire alarm covers the last word in such system:
Two years ago Fall River started the most ambitious and comprehensive plan for improving the fire alarm that has been undertaken in any city in its class. Plans were drawn for a new isolated fire alarm headquarters; a contract was let for new central office apparatus; provisions were made to remove all the older types of boxes on the streets and in the factories and replace them with modern boxes; an order was placed for a fire alarm box for every school; new underground construction was ordered and a new method of numbering was outlined to be used when the system was completed.
On December 1 the new office was tested by James McGuine, superintendent of fire alarm and the engineers of the Gamewell Company and formally turned over to Mayor Edmond P. Talbot, Harold E. Clarking, chairman, board of fire commissioners and Chief Jeremiah Sullivan.
New Headquarters Building
The new headquarters building located on Pine Street, is a single story isolated fireproof building to guard the fire alarm system from conflagration hazard. Three shifts of two operators each are provided and are under the direction of James McGuine who has had charge of the fire alarm system for a number of years. The building contains, in addition to the operating room, an office for the superintendent, a small workroom, shower bath and separate rooms for the storage battery and motor generator. Oil is used for heating purposes.
Changes and Improvements in System
Fall River has largely motorized its apparatus and the new system was planned to speed up the receipt of the alarm and thus get full value from motorization. All of the boxes on the street were replaced by a new style box with the quick action door which cuts down the time consumed in operating the box. The new boxes were speeded up to one-half seconds between blows in place of the older practice of two seconds. Fast time circuits were run to all the apparatus houses to continue the benefit of increased speed. Most of the box numbers with large digits were changed to lower numbers to save still more speed. It is estimated that these changes alone have made it possible for the department to receive every box alarm from one to two minutes quicker than under the old method.
Apparatus of Central Office
The central office apparatus is arranged to care for sixteen box circuits and provisions have been made to allow for extensions as the city grows. Two box line recording sets consisting of eight circuit registers and take-up reels and time stamps provide a record of all incoming alarms. Two single dial, four number transmitters are provided for sending alarms to the apparatus houses. Two recording sets make a record of all alarms that go out and the time of their transmission. A recording set is also provided in the office of the superintendent.
Two circuits have been run to each of the eleven apparatus houses throughout the city. Registers and take-up reels at these engine houses receive the alarm at fast time and eight-inch gongs are connected on the secondary circuit. All of the central office apparatus is mounted on art metal pedestals to enable the operators to set the signals against traffic in the direction in which the apparatus is going. Facilities are also provided so that the bell strikers can be cut out and operated only on second alarms.
Energy for the system is supplied by 1,225 cells of storage battery mounted on metal battery racks in the battery room. Two motor geneator sets and a gasoline electric generator provide three separate sources of power and should care for any conceivable emergency. A section of the battery room can be seen through the doorway iu the illustration below.
All Wires in Business Section Under Ground
The school authorities and the general managers of the industrial concerns have co-operated in splendid fashion with the fire department authorities to give the city one hundred per cent, protection. The school authorities appreciated that the fire department was the only organized force in the city that was capable of handling panic in case of fire and a fire alarm box was installed on each of the fiftytwo schools. Ninety cotton mills and other industrial plants had old style fire alarm boxes and the managers of these concerns bought modern boxes to make the system modern throughout. All of the wires in the main business section were put underground and some thirty-five underground pedestals installed.
System of Digit Numbers
The boxes were renumbered and a method adopted that can well be utilized in other cities. The city was divided into five zones and it was decided to use four digit numbers. The first digit, as is common practice, denotes the zone. The second digit denotes the type of box whether a street box, factory box or a school box; the last two digits show the location. For example: Box 1215 would be a street box at the corner of Columbian and Broadway. Box 1315 would be a box on the American Linen Mills near the same location and box 1415 would be the Columbian School. If the second digit is 2 it denotes a street box; if 3 a factory and 4 a school. In this way as soon as the first digit comes in the department knows the zone; as soon as the second digit comes in they know the character of building and when the last two digits were received they know’ the location. The use of four digit numbers provides sufficient room for growth so that it will not be necessary to change the numbering plan even though the city installed a box a block in the future. Before the numbers were definitely decided the commissioners, chief and superintendent sat down before a large scale map and assigned tentative numbers to all important street intersections.