Box 1, Folder 14, Document 1

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Box 1, Folder 14, Document 1

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�I NT R ODUCT I ON
This report covers a short study of fire alarm boxes for 10 of the 11 largest
cities in the State.
This evaluation covers the effectiveness of the fire alarm box as part of the
communication system for fire calls.
Box coverage per 1,000 population is
compared to total boxes in each city.
Further comparison is made with false
alarms to total alarms received through the fire alarm boxes in each city.
GMA wishes to acknowledge the rapid response of Fire Chiefs Carl Callaway,
Thomas Eberhart, J . G. Fitzgerald,
C. W. Ford, Dewey B. Foster, J.M. Kidd,
A. D. Nixon, J. R. Parham, W. A. Register and Howard C. Schaffer, also the
fire department staffs of each city who kindly completed this information and
provided their many combined years of e xperience in the evaluation of this
communication device.
Equal appreciation goes to the entire GMA Staff who
individually contributed to the development of this report.
It is intended that this brief yet concise piece of basic information will contribute to improved effectiveness in municipal fire service.
Jerry A. Singer
Director of Research
May, 1969
W. Elmer George,
Executive Director
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�FIRE ALARM BOX USE
A Survey of Georgia's Largest Cities
The fire chiefs of Georgia's ten largest cities 1 favor the continued use of fire
alarm boxes.
Although false alarm rates are high the boxes are still considered
the most effective and fastest means of communication to a fire department.
The
many valid calls received through the fire boxes result in the saving of lives
_and property value.
,.
This leaves the false alarms in the necessary nuisance
ca~egory.
=TOTAL ALA RMS
(Fire Boxes)
FALSE ALARMS
(Fire Bo~es)
320
160
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�The survey revealed suggestions that boxes be removed from residential areas.
Another a.rea in which fire alarm boxes do not appear useful are certain industries
with private alarm and sprinkler systems in use,
Several chiefs feel the conversion to a telephone alarm system might be better,
but the costs are prohibitive.
Savannah uses such a system through which the fire
department, police department, or an ambulance can be summoned.
,.
For 212 such boxes,
Savannah pays a yearly rental of $11,448.
According to a report by the International City Managers' Association, the proper
placing of fire alarm boxes in a city is important in effective fire control and in
·2
reducing false alarms .
Downtown office buildings are high value areas in which
telephones cannot be reached at night.
at two block intervals.
It is recommended that fire boxes be placed
High life hazard areas, such as schools, nursing homes, and
hospitals, should be adequately covered.
areas where telephones are numerous.
Fire boxes should be removed from residential
Slum areas are an obvious ex ception, since there
are few av ailable t1elephone s .
According to the National Fire Protective Association 10% of all fires in the United
States account f or 90 % of a ll property damage loss.
It appears that the high value
area s a r e most in ne ed of easily reached fire alarm bo xes .
This is further substan-
tia t ed by the assigning of deficiency points by the American Insurance Association .
Conce r ning f ire alarm bo xes , t he AI A ass i gns a maximum of 20 points fo r residential
areas , 67 points fo r prin cipal business distr i cts and 40 points fo r other high v alue
areas, 3
Some cities have g r e atly reduced the ir pe rce ntage of fals e alarms b~ various me-ans ,
Washington, D. C. reduced false a l a rms 45% in one month thr ough an intens ive e ducati on
project with the public school children.
Publicity given to the arrest and conviction
of a few false alarm violato r s s uccessfully reduced the overall false alarms in one
c i ty,
Arr es t of the guil ty was a result of cameras placed on t h r ee of t he city's fire
I
a l a r m boxes ,
- 3 -
�I
Norfolk, Virginia found that 51% of all false alarms were placed on the weekends
when children were out of school.
Relocation of certain boxes greatly reduced
the false alarms.
To receive the largest benefit from fire alarm boxes -- Consider:
1.
What area needs the protection of fire boxes?
2.
Where can fire boxes be eliminated and relocated?
To reduce the percentage of false alarms -- Determine:
1.
Which boxes are most affected?
2.
In those areas with most false alarms are telephones nearby?
3.
Would these high false alarm boxes be more effective in another
part of town?
Another valid consideration might be the box es in use per 1,000 population.
Use the following charts to see how your city compares.
1
At l anta Excluded.
2 11Fire Alarm Communicati ons 11., Management Information Service.
December 196?.
3Ibid
- 4 -
(Report 28?)
�1.
Savannah
. Columbus
Macon
Augusta
Albany
Athens
~rietta
East Point
Rome
Valdosta
Boxes per 1,000 population
- 5 -
�250
(/)
(I)
X
0
..0
E
150
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135
127
126
64
85
43 .
POP U. LAT IO
(THOUSANDS)
- 6 -
37
ij
37
33
32
�NAME OF
CITY
&
NO. FIRE
ALARM BOXES
IN CITY
NO. OF
FIRE
CALLS
NO. VALID
FIRE CALLS
ANSWERED
AS RESULT
OF FIRE
ALARM BOX
COST OF FIRE
ALARM BOXES
TO CITY
ARE BOXES
RENTED?
WHO DOES
CITY PAY
FOR RENTAL
OF FIRE
ALARM LINES?
IF COST IS
ADDITIONAL
TO ANY OF
PREVIOUS
COSTS·, STATE
HOW MUCH IS
PAID PER YEAR
FOR LINE
RENTAL
Albany
127
154
29
$145.00, $190.00
Auxiliary Side
or Master Box
No
Athens
75
41
11
$200.00 Varies
No
Augusta
210
84
. 55
$34,236.72 Annual
Yes
None
None
Columbus
241
394
152
$200.00
No
None
None
East Point
190
302
182
$172.50
No
None
Macon
182
366
323
$250.00 (Box Only)
No
None
Mariet t a
172
106
39
$250.00
No
None
84
26
$250.00
No
Savannah
212
(Street
Boxes)
157
(Year
1968)
89
Valdosta
98
83
15
Rome
115
$243.30
- 7 -
City Owned
None
None
Yes
Telephone Co .
$4.50 pe r
mo. per box
$11,448 per
yr.
No
None
None
City Owned
�C O MME N T S
"I feel every means possible should be used for the public to summon help
in an emergency such as fire , Alarm boxes have been used for other emergencies other than fires. I think they are necessary. The most efficient
emergency alarm equipment for the general public are emergency telephone
boxes, but they are too e xpensive for most fire departments to install and
the recurring charges are too high,"
-
"It is necessary to properly maintain the system that carries the fire alarm
boxes, service them and test them often . I know of no better way to have a
fire alarm system."
"Fire constitutes the most destructive force encountered in an Urban Community.
And yet, it is -the most easily controlled when dealt with in its incipient
stages .
The gene r al public can sound a Fire Alarm quickly and easily by operating the
PULL LEVER on the alarm bo x. A coded signal automatically flashes to the Fire
Dep ar tment in seconds . Complete fire defences are responding immediately.
We very definitely need them and they are effective even with the rate of False
Ala rms . "
"A Munic ipal Fire Alarm System is reliable means of notifyi ng a fire department
that a fir e emergency exists.
The r e are two ba sic elements in the communication. requirements of a modern fire
dep artment:
( a)
An e f fec tive system of rapid communications between the operating units
of the depa rtment .
(b )
The devices which provide for pr omp t reporting of fi r es to the depar tment
up on dis covery .
(A)
It is necess ary f or fire depar tmen t office rs t o be able t o communica te r ap i dly
with the offic e r s in charge of individual fi r e commands. The se offi cer s i n
turn must keep in t ouch with fire h e adquarters . A mean s of c a lling of f- du ty
firemen t o duty with mi nimum de lay when emer gency demand s , It i s al so desirable that the c ommunicat i ons s y s t em permi t a f ire department t o c ontac t departments in neighboring communiti es . For the s e v a rious purp os e s a ll forms
of communication are us ed in one way or a no ther, i ncl uding radi o , telephone
and telegraphic equipment and me s s enger . s e rvice.
(B)
The second basic element of fire department communications is the provision
of means whereby a person di s covering a fire may promptly report it to the
fi r e department , utilizes the telephone, and the municipal street box fire
alarm system .
The Ame r i can Insur ance Association grading schedule assigns the communicatioti and
f ire a l arm sys t em five hundred fifty of 5,000 possible defic i ency points . Ther e
- 8 -
�is some questions whether such a high percentage of the total points should
be assigned to the street box system and related equipment, the purpose of
the grading schedule is to measure factors involved in large fires or conflagrations. Actual fire experience shows that delayed alarms have resulted
in many important fires in the large loss class.
Street fire alarm box systems are used in three out of five communities of ·
more than 5,000 population in some areas of the United States. This ratio
is much higher in some parts of the country where 9 out of 10 cities of more
than 5,000 population have fire alarm systems.
Fire department communications and public fire alarm systems are supplemented
by private fire alarm and supervisory systems.
Before a city discontinues their fire alarm system they should determine the
effect removal will have on fire insurance rates within the city, Compare
cost of leased service and municipal owned systems. The effect of delayed
alarms , "
"I do not think that there is any faster or more positive means for a department to receive and respond to an alarm. However, I feel that if we could
cut out the unnecessary street boxes, this would definitely cut down on our
false alarms, as over 50% of our box alarms in 1968 were false."
"In determining a city's classification according to American Insurance Association we must have fire alarm boxes. Due to the number of false alarms, I'm
sure there must be a better way. Yes, this is a needed thing."
"We do nee d fire alarm boxes. They are effective.
American Insurance Association requirement."
There is no better way.
"Under the present insurance grading schedule, it is almost mandatory to have
fire alarm boxes to achieve a low b ase i nsurance rating.
For the transmission of fire alarms, they are effective. But, in my opinion ,
the high cost of procurement, installation and maintenance for the number of
valid alarms transmitted does not justify the expense, taking into consideration
that the majority of homes and business areas have telephone service , Also,
most cities have police patrol cars with radios at all times f or transmission
of fire calls."
"I think the f ire alarm b ox in our residential areas is becoming less effective
each year, be cause the number of alarms is gradually getting smaller each year.
Also, many of t he residents do not know the location of their nearest alarm box
be cause they depend on the telephone f or reporting fires.
I do think that our buildings with automatic sprinkler and other systems should
have an alarm box connected wi th the fire department for several reasons which I
will not go into .
I think we could have a better system but it would be expensive to make the change
over. "
- 9 -
�"The telephone fire alarm system, in my opinion, is most effective in
that the exact locations of fires and what is burning can be reported
with fire equipment being dispatched accordingly. Phones in the fire
alarm boxes are also used for emergencies other than fire such as for
police, ambulance, etc."
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