False alarm: Fake fire call box removed in Derby (Connecticut)

CT Buff

New member
Joined
Mar 17, 2022
Messages
6
www.nhregister.com /news/article/Fake-fire-alarm-box-sparks-confusion-with-Derby-17596006.php

False alarm: Fake fire call box removed in Derby​

Eddy Martinez 11/23/2022


rawImage.jpg

Fire Chief David Lenart spotted a fake fire call box in Derby last Friday. The utility company that owns the pole it was attached to has since removed it.
Contributed photo
DERBY — Fire Chief David Lenart had a literal false alarm Friday near the corner of Hawthorne and Nutmeg avenues.

Lenart was driving past the site when he spotted a fake fire alarm pull box mounted to a utility pole.

"I have no idea who could have set it up," Lenard said. "I would assume it's somebody in the neighborhood."

While Lenart said the device wasn't operational, it was important to remove it as soon as possible since it could trick people into using it for emergencies, he said.

"It's just dangerous," he said. "In an emergency, a person might see it, and it says 'Emergency' on it. It looks completely real. And God forbid they see it and during an emergency they think 'Oh, I can just pull that and the fire department will come and to their surprise, it's fake."

But while an ordinary resident would have been fooled, Lenart said a trained eye could spot clues that it was a fake. Real fire alarm pull boxes are made out cast iron to withstand the elements, he said. This one was made of plastic and the color was a much brighter shade of red. A real box also would have had a hook inside to pull the alarm. This one had a keypad like a phone.

The utility company that owns the pole has since removed it.

Ironically, Lenart said, utility companies have had problems with real fire call boxes being stolen, not fake ones being installed.

"At this point, they're a very hot collectible in the fire service," Lenart said.

Prices for one, he said can go for $500. One alarm with a phone on eBay is selling for $800. Another one more similar to the cast iron alarm is selling for $625.

Derby removed its network of fire alarm pull boxes a few years ago, he said. The antiquated system used telegraph lines to alert the nearby fire department. The alarms, Lenart said, were still operational when they were removed.

Fire alarm pull boxes were first installed in Boston in 1852 according to the National Museum of American History. Connected by telegraph wires, the boxes were triggered by someone cranking out the signal to a central location which would then dispatch a firefighter team. It was a quick way for fire departments to respond in an era before telephones.

But telephones gradually made the boxes redundant and by 1968, the U.S. had adopted the current 911 emergency system.

The boxes were susceptible to false alarms he said, since people would routinely trigger them for fun, according to Lenart. But they weren't just for fires. They also pulled double duty as civil defense emergency alarms during the Cold War, he said. The alarms would be triggered in case of an air raid.

Most young people he said, would not know what these boxes were used for. But for older residents, they were one of the few ways they could get help in a time when people weren't as connected as they are now.

"The average citizen in town relied on those boxes, because they knew that all you had to do was pull that box and someone was coming," he said.
 

mack

Administrator
Joined
Aug 8, 2009
Messages
12,593
Why would anyone mount a $500 or more fire alarm box on a pole which does not functon? Maybe the chief can sell it on ebay and use the money for his firefighters.
 

t123ken

Active member
Joined
Sep 8, 2013
Messages
444
I remember about 35-40 years ago a building on Park Avenue in the low 80s somehow got a hold of a break-away hydrant and set it in concrete in front of its entrance so there'd be a clear space for its residents to be dropped off - presumably by taxi.
Engine 22 was tipped off and made some inquiries. The building's staff pleaded ignorance, but was soon observed removing it with a maul and chisels.
No official action was taken and the hydrant was removed. There was at least one newspaper story about it.
 

Bulldog

Bulldog
Joined
Apr 16, 2008
Messages
2,139
Why would anyone mount a $500 or more fire alarm box on a pole which does not functon? Maybe the chief can sell it on ebay and use the money for his firefighters.
The prices quoted were for actual alarm boxes, not plastic fakes like this! I'm sure it was quite cheap.
 
Last edited:

EdMc

Active member
Joined
Feb 22, 2017
Messages
306
It looks like a plastic alarm box we had in our house, it was a plastic box with a house phone inside
 

mack

Administrator
Joined
Aug 8, 2009
Messages
12,593
The prices quoted were for actual alarm boxes, not plastic fakes like this! I'm sure it was quite cheap.
I thought at first it was authentic, but even the fake plastic boxes are $129 on ebay. Who spends money hanging a fake box on a telephone pole?


In most cities, fire alarm boxes were usually identified by orange lights hanging above the box location on a pole or even on the box itself. Most are gone.

Boston

1669329340600.png

NYC

1669329426677.png
 
Top