05/13/11 460 W - + 12 - 4 More History of Raleigh Fire Department Dispatching

Continuing some history of how dispatching worked in the Raleigh Fire Department, here's how things worked in the early 1950s, prior to the installation of radios in 1955. This information is based on interviews with retiree firefighters, at their monthly breakfast at Pam's Restaurant.

Box Alarm
  1. Rings at all fire stations.
  2. Station bell rings with box number.
  3. Repeated four times.
  4. Punch tape records box number. Work even when power's out.
  5. Captain goes to box containing run cards located beside/underneath punch tape. Confirms street address of box number, even if he knows it by heart. Drivers and others would memorize some/many box number locations.
  6. Rest of company gets dressed/gets on truck.
  7. For companies not responding, they stay ready/on truck/awake for 15 minutes. If it's night, they can go back to bed after 15 minutes. When did this tradition cease? TBD.
  8. When returning companies/last company has returned to the station AND is back in service, three bells are rung at all fire stations.
  9. If at night, all companies must get up and go to the truck, in case the signal was a mistake and really meant two bells.

Telephone Alarm

  1. Rings at all fire stations.
  2. Station bell rings with two bells.
  3. Presumably repeated, probably four times.
  4. Captain goes to watch room/dispatcher telephone, and picks up phone. Dispatcher tells street address and any additional details.
  5. Continue with step #6 above.

After Radios / After 1955

Radio Notes

Station 1 Coverage

Dispatcher Notes

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