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  • Still and Box alarms?

    Ok guys, I wanted to ask this here before putting it up on the general firefighters forum and sounding stupid. I know Chicago runs still alarms and New York runs box alarms, but what's the difference? In my county you never hear anything about a still alarm, but occasionally an officer will "recall the box" which I translate into "recall the assignment." If anyone can help me understand the difference, if there is any, I would greatly appreciate it. Stay safe!
    Rob
    Captain
    Logan Township Fire Dept.
    Gloucester County, NJ

    Standard Disclaimer: These are my opinions and do not necessarily reflect those of my department.

  • #2
    d

    A still alarm is a "silent" alarm, meaning reported from the use of a telephone..A box alarm is struck with whats called a box, either struck by pull alarm, or rung out by alarm service such as ADT Fire Alarm, etc....Hope this kind of helps!


    Zach
    STFD 3

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    • #3
      No, a "Still" alarm is one company being sent out. Like a engine of rescue for a MVA or medical aide.A "Box" is sending out your first alarm response, for example here it would be 2 pumps and a ladder.
      I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.

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      • #4
        d

        My explanation is how that system works around the State of Michigan. Most cities, what you called a Box alarm, is called a Full Assignment, meaning 3 Engines, 1 truck, A Squad, 1 batt. Cheif. Grand Rapids, MI utilizes this procedure.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by stm4710
          No, a "Still" alarm is one company being sent out. Like a engine of rescue for a MVA or medical aide.A "Box" is sending out your first alarm response, for example here it would be 2 pumps and a ladder.
          Not quite Jesse,

          The term still originated from the days when most alarms were tranmitted by pullbox. As the brother stated above, box alarms were just that, an alarm transmitted from a street box. Still alarms were alarms received by some other means, and when the companies were dispatched the bells were "still", hence the name still alarm.

          The terms have been adapted as time has passed, and now in many cases your answer is correct. But it is not the only answer. Chicago runs what we would call a box assignment as a still alarm, and so does Providence RI for that matter.

          This is one of those topics that will very depending on where you are, so there is no one right answer.

          Anyone with more info on the origination feel free to chime in, i am sure there is more to offer.

          Dave

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          • #6
            All of the departments that I have visited with do not use the terms still or box. Maybe that is because it is mostly rural?
            -Bozz

            Air Force Medic

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            • #7
              Thanks Dave I didnt know that.
              I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by hfd66truck

                Chicago runs what we would call a box assignment as a still alarm, and so does Providence RI for that matter.
                Close Dave, very close.

                Providence could dispatch a box alarm, a still alarm.... or a stillbox!!!

                Box: Fire alarm system from a building being transmitted to the FD. Or, a street pull box. Assignment is whatever combination of apparatus are pre-determined to respond. 3+2, 3+1, 2+1, etc along with a battalion chief. Street boxes- 1 engine daytime, engine+ladder after 2300.

                Still: MVA, medical call, investigation, technical rescue, etc. Whatever apparatus appropriate to the call- engine+rescue, etc.

                Stillbox: Reported structure fire where there has NOT been a box alarm received. 3 engines, 2 ladders, Special Hazards, and a chief. Multiple calls will add a rescue to the initial assignment. Literally, the "stillbox" is the closest streetbox to the fire location.

                It goes something like this: "Engines 10, 11, 8, Ladders 5 and 2, Special Hazards, and Battalion 2, a stillbox." *wait 10 seconds* "Engines 10, 11, 8, Ladders 5 and 2, Special Hazards, Battalion 2: 130- one three zero- Adelaide Avenue, possible house fire. Take Stillbox 4261, Broad and Adelaide. Engines 10, 11, 8....."


                (Disclaimer- not necessarily the correct assignment or stillbox# for that address.)

                North Providence and Pawtucket also use the stillbox concept. Most other cities and towns in RI use the "still alarm" method.

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                • #9
                  In Chicago, a Still Alarm is a first alarm assignment of 2 Engines 2 Trucks and a B.C.. If it is a working fire, a 3rd truck responds as RIT,a RIT B.C. and since the city got rid of aides for B.C.'s a command van responds. Also, depending on the location of the fire one of the Squads (a 2-piece snorkel/heavy rescue unit) A Still and Box is a full first alarm similar to "all hands" 2 more engines, a Tower ladder and the squad if its not already at the fire. It also brings a Deputy District Chief and 2 more B.C.'s... It is a little different in the suburbs, but sorta the same concept..Hope that helped.
                  IAFF-IACOJ PROUD

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                  • #10
                    mikey>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
                    I believe your answer is the closest to being correct. i had the privledge of riding with a (chicago) squad company off and on for 2 years. Then I got married. Any way I believe a still is a first allarm with the first do companies and a box is the same as a second alarm. I'm not sure where the term still comes from but I know in chicago they have areas each company covers on first alarms and the areas are called still districts. The term box alarm i believe comes from old chicago when there were alarm "BOXES" on the streets for fires. when the first company arrived and needed additional help the officer would pull a "BOX" alrarm which would notify additional companies.

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                    • #11
                      From my time in IL, here's what I thought still and box were for Chicago:

                      Still: first due engine, truck and BC. Essentially an investigation for unconfirmed structure fires, auto alarms, etc.

                      Box: Fill out the normal alarm assignment; essentially saying, "We got a worker." Sends another 2 engines, 1-2 trucks and a squad. This is the origin of company officers, after reporting smoke and fire, telling Main to, "Gimme a box." Or, the much loved, "Inglewood, Box Me!" (Main and Inglewood are the two CFD dispatch centers.)

                      2-11: Second alarm
                      3-11: Third alarm, etc.

                      I think Mikey is closer to the city than I was, so his understanding could be better.
                      My comments are sometimes educated, sometimes informed and sometimes just blowing smoke...but they are always mine and mine alone and do not reflect upon anyone else (especially my employer).

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                      • #12
                        a box alarm is when you need back up from other towns or cities. for instance, if you have a structure fire and you go to a box alarm, you may recieve an extra tanker and 2 engines from neighboring villages. still alarms are only with one company and are usually pretty basic. ps did you guys know that Lake County Il started the box alarm system?

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