Innovation of the Era!
Mid to Late 1800s

Where There's Smoke, There's Fire

Fire call boxes were first installed in the United States in the mid 1800's. When someone pulled the handle on the fire call box, an alarm was sent by telegraph to the fire station that indentified the street the alarm box was on. Fire call boxes helped the firefighters determine a fire's location: before this they simply had to go by word-of-mouth or look for a cloud of smoke to find where a fire was located. At first, fire call boxes could only be operated by someone who had a key to open the box and pull the handle. Keys were carried by policeman and by upstanding businessmen of the day. Later, the boxes did not require a key to pull the alarm.
This is a graphic of what a fire call box would have looked like in the late 1800's. The fire call boxes of this time used telegraph lines to transmit the alarm signal. Later, telephone lines would be used.
This is an example of a more modern fire call box (circa 1924.) In today's modern world, fire call boxes have begun to disappear, as they are costly to repair and are not being used by the public, since cell phones are used by most everyone.