The dispatcher would send the signal twice, with the primary bell (brass), and the secondary bell (steel) so it would be two distinctive sounds. In addition, smaller steel bells would be placed throughout quarters, which would sound during both transmissions. Everyone would count the incoming alarms, and most could tell which boxes were to be run from memory, plus there was always a large board with the first due assignments either in the kitchen and/or sitting room . Also, at the bottom of the telegraph bells at the housewatch was a button to sound the bells throughout the house. This was used at night to supplement the lights to turn out the members, and also to call the members down for meal, chief's visit, etc.
At the borough CO's, the bells would be restricted to the first and second alarm companies late night unless fire conditions were too busy.