Unique Fire Alarm Pull Box found in Woodland Park, NJ, USA

Jane Neill-Hancock

Wayne, United States

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Artist's Description

This is a lever pull down fire alarm box, I believe it is made by GAMEWELL – a 219 STYLE MASTER BOX.

A fire alarm box, fire alarm call box, or fire alarm pull box is a device used for notifying a fire department of a fire. Typically installed on street corners, they were the main means of summoning firefighters before the general availability of telephones.

When the box is activated by turning a knob or pulling a hook, a spring-loaded wheel turns, tapping out a pulsed electrical signal corresponding to the box’s number. A receiver at fire headquarters annunciates the pulses through flashing lights or tones, or via a pen recorder, and the box number is matched to a list of box locations. In modern installations a computer receives and translates the pulses; in unmanned installations in small communities, the box number may be sounded out by a horn or bell audible community-wide. Though still in wide use, many communities have removed them, relying instead on the widespread availability of landline and (especially) cellular telephones.

The first telegraph fire alarm system was developed by William Francis Channing and Moses G. Farmer in Boston, Massachusetts in 1852. Two years later they applied for a patent for their “Electromagnetic Fire Alarm Telegraph for Cities”. In 1855 John Gamewell of South Carolina purchased regional rights to market the fire alarm telegraph, later obtaining the patents and full rights to the system in 1859. John F. Kennard bought the patents from the government after they were seized after the Civil War, returned them to Gamewell, and formed a partnership, Kennard and Co., in 1867 to manufacture the alarm systems. The Gamewell Fire Alarm Telegraph Co. was later formed in 1879. Gamewell systems were installed in 250 cities by 1886 and 500 cities in 1890. By 1910 Gamewell had gained a 95% market share.

These fire boxes and other emergency personnel boxes are big collectibles – found lists and lists and pages of images of them for sale by private antique dealers and on ebay….

Artwork Comments

  • Francis Drake
  • Jane Neill-Hancock
  • missmoneypenny
  • Jane Neill-Hancock
  • Monnie Ryan
  • Jane Neill-Hancock
  • kalaryder
  • Jane Neill-Hancock
  • kalaryder
  • Jane Neill-Hancock
  • Ana Belaj
  • Jane Neill-Hancock
  • Susan Werby
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  • Martha Sherman
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