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1st alarm, 2nd alarm, going 3rd

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  • #16
    Originally posted by firetruckred
    Also, Would you care to elaborate (or anyone else) more about the history of boxes and the current use today.
    I'll take a shot at this.....

    The term "Box" comes from the old street boxes- the electromechanical alarm boxes that would be found on street corners, on large buildings or important buildings (hospitals, schools, etc). Each box is assigned a number- for example, "1234." Inside the box (which works very simularly to a telegraph) is an electromechanical telegraph- A spring-powered motor which turns a notched wheel (in this case, a wheel with 1 notch, then 2, then 3 and then 4 notches) which in turns opens and closes a set of contact points (much like the points on an older gasoline engine with a distributor). The points open and close once, twice, three and then four times, signalling box "1234" to the dispatcher. The dispatcher then looks in the card file (like a library's card file) which has all the boxes numerically listed. The card for any average city could look something like this:

    1234 THIRD AND MAIN 1234
    ENG CO's TRK CO's Bn Ch. RS. Div. Transfers
    First Alarm 3, 7, 9, 11 1, 3 1 2 1 E4 to 9
    Second 12, 19, 6, 4 2, 7 2 1
    Third 16, 1, 4 Snkl 1 4

    Here's the first alarm for Philly 7569, Ascot Place and London Road (I acquired the box about 10 years ago)

    7569 Ascot Place at London Road 7569
    Eng Co's Ladder Co's Bn. Rs. Div.
    First Alarm 58, 62, 22, 71 34, 31 13, 12 1 2

    Anyways you get the idea......Though most major cities have since done away with the street boxes themselves, they have retained the box numbers and the run cards. So if someone calls in to 911 reporting a fire at "2331 Main Street" The dispatcher enters the address.....the computer chews on the address and the nearest box pops up.....If you are listening to FDNY, you will hear something like....."In the Bronx, a Phone Alarm for box 4612 (Bronx Park Ave at E180 St.) for the reported address xxxx East One Eight Oh street, reported to be a fire in the private dwelling......"

    That means someone called 911 via telephone ("Phone Alarm") reporting a fire in the private dwelling located at xxxx East 180 St. The nearest "box" is 4612.

    Oh, and by the way, if you listen to FDNY and hear "ERS alarm on box 2367, for the address xxxx........" That means the alarm was recieved via ERS Box- These are boxes on the streets of NYC that you press a button, and you actually speak to a dispatcher.

    Does any of this make sense?
    Last edited by FWDbuff; 08-23-2006, 06:28 PM.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."


    • #17
      Sorry, the box cards are hard to understand as they dont appear the same on the thread as they do when I type them.......All of the numbers appear in seperate columns in a more organized fashion.
      "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."


      • #18
        Wow. Thanks FWDbuff. That is just an awesome answer!

        Does it make sense? Yes. Could I repeat it back if someone asked? No. HAHA.

        I am sure in time with answers, listening and experience I may be able to do that.
        Last edited by firetruckred; 08-23-2006, 06:56 PM.


        • #19
          I thought about it for a while and mulled it around. I can see why box alarms work well and make sense in some areas.

          I also can think of a couple reasons why our system works for us, and possibly, why it developed the way it did.

          It mimics wildland response. Once an incident grows beyond the units that initially responded, the IC requests specific assets. Hand crews, engines, helos, tenders or tankers. Doesn't matter, the IC tailors the request to the needs of the particular incident. If the initial request isn't large enough, more assets are added. Assets are added and removed as required to fit the needs of the incident.

          In a rural area, like ours, the IC's are trained that way for wildland and transpose that same style of thinking to other incidents as well.

          I ran really see how the box alarm system would work well. IC's wouldn't have to think about what mix of equipment they were getting, they would know. Less stress on them.


          • #20
            We call asking for Mutual Aid from XX Department for xx piece of equipment, manpower, stage at station, etc. We don't use box alarms up here, unless they do in the big city.

            Hope this helps.
            check out our website: www.firstduefiresupply.com


            • #21
              Yes it helps. I am grateful for all the responses. So much experience and education all at the tip of my fingers. : )

              I am interested in the history of the FDNY and how it functions today. If any of you can or would like to share any information that you feel would be helpful such as websites, books, stories of your own, that would great (Yes I have looked at the NY threads on FH.)

              You just gotta love NY with all it's tradition, history and family oriented FD's.


              • #22
                Originally posted by angfireman
                We call asking for Mutual Aid from XX Department for xx piece of equipment, manpower, stage at station, etc. We don't use box alarms up here, unless they do in the big city.

                Hope this helps.
                Thats the great thing about Box Cards......The IC doesnt have to know specifically what departments have what resources (although it certainly helps to know what toys the neighbor has....) All the IC has to do is say "Dispatch, send me the next two engines...." or "Dispatch, send me the next due Rescue Company......" or "Give me the third alarm."

                Also, should there be a large-scale incident of some type, such as a very large building fire, or perhaps a Mass-Casualty Incident, Box Cards are of immense help in that they already have pre-determined "move-up" or "cover" companies already established, making sure no one area is completely stripped of coverage. If Engine 4 is due on the box for box 123, Engine 12 frrom the other side of town automatically moves to their quarters if it is a working fire.
                "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."


                • #23
                  That's neat about the automatic coverage FWDbuff.


                  • #24
                    Originally posted by firetruckred
                    I am interested in the history of the FDNY and how it functions today. If any of you can or would like to share any information that you feel would be helpful such as websites, books, stories of your own, that would great (Yes I have looked at the NY threads on FH.)
                    Great resources about FDNY:

                    FDNY OPERATIONAL REFERENCE, 6th ed. (9/2005), Jim Griffiths. An excellent reference about everyday operations, SOP/SOG's and almost anything else you could possibly want to know about FDNY. Highly reccomended and worth every penny of the $30 cost if you are an FDNY Buff.

                    FDNY AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF THE FIRE DEPARTMENT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK, NYC Fire Museum, 2003. A great historical reference.

                    For a taste of the "War Years" of the late 60's and early 70's, a MUST READ is "Report from Engine Company 82" By Dennis Smith

                    Some good websites:
                    www.fdnewyork.com, By Frank Raffa, a supervising dispatcher in Brooklyn

                    http://www.nyc.gov/html/fdny/html/home2.shtml the official dept website

                    www.nyfd.com an unofficial website by a retired member
                    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."


                    • #25

                      With my VFD, we currently call for specific equipment--IE Mutual Aid XX Department for tankers and manpower, XX Department for their Aerial, etc. It is a pain in the *** and requires too much thought. I'm in the process of coming up with a "Box Alarm" system that automatically calls certain resources for working fires. I've also heard of some departments having a predesignated "Tanker Task Force" of 5-10 tankers that respond to rural calls when a working fire dispatch is called. We're looking at that, too. We want to use the right department resource for the right job.

                      Another good resource for you might be www.MABAS.org. IL and WI have this system worked out for mutual aid, and it is very extensive and very well thought out. I remember Goldfeder talking about it during one of his podcasts.


                      • #26
                        The city of Danbury, CT which borders me only really has a first-assignment planned out, if they need additional equipment they call for what they want.

                        Asst. Chief on duty
                        2 paid engines
                        1 paid truck
                        1 volunteer engine
                        1 volunteer engine -OR- squad (light + air)

                        My department doesn't really use alarm assignments, we just tone for what we need.


                        • #27
                          My Department's responses:
                          Still alarm/Medical: Engine company
                          MVA: Engine and Rescue
                          1st alarm: 2 Engines, Rescue, Ladder Caompany, Deputy Chief
                          2nd alarm: additional Engine and Ladder, Mutual aid to cover the stations.

                          Anything over the 2nd alarm, fire alarm contacts the District 14 mutual aid center; located at Ashland Fire Dispatch. The alarms responses are predetermined for up to 10 alarms. If any more resources are required, the Department of Fire Services activates the Statewide District Mobilization Plan, which also has predetermined task force responses.
                          ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
                          Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY


                          • #28
                            Ok, How many thank yous is this??

                            Thank you again Buff you are wonderfully resourceful


                            • #29
                              And Now.......................

                              From the place where it all started:

                              P.G.Co. Operates as if all the different VFDs, in and out of the County, are all one big department. Every Station is responsible for everything that it is the closest station to. The second closest station is second due. Third closest...... I think you get the idea. We do NOT allow any political boundaries to interfere with the system. Our "box areas" are usually small, about half of a square mile. the box is numbered with the station number first, then the box number. ie: Box 18-12.

                              The assignment for a box is 4 Engines, 2 Trucks, a Squad, and a few chiefs. Upon notification of a "Working Fire" a medic unit and a BLS Ambulance, and a EMS duty officer are added to the box. Additional units may be requested as single units, ( 1 Engine) by a Task Force Assignment, (2 Engines, 1 Truck, and another Chief or two) or by a Second Alarm. The Second Alarm is a mirror of the First Alarm, same amount, and same types, of Equipment. We haven't sent a second alarm on a single family home in at least 15 years.
                              Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
                              In memory of
                              Chief Earle W. Woods, 1912 - 1997
                              Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

                              IACOJ Budget Analyst

                              I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.



                              • #30
                                Thanks Hwoods. I would like to learn more about PG County. I was not aware until recently that they are the second busiest Dept.
                                Last edited by firetruckred; 08-24-2006, 01:35 AM.


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