R.I.P. Craig Hunt

In the U.S. fire service there is a tradition based around the old dispatch “box” telegraph system of the 1800’s. When there was a fire, someone would run to the nearest corner and pull the handle on the fire alarm box. This tripped a clockwork mechanism that relayed the number of the box to “Central”. Central then looked up who was going to “catch” the “job” or call and would put corresponding disks on a telegraph relay (pre-radio) that would alert the stations that there was a fire at that box number. That box number would ring at the station houses that were “catching the job”. The “watch” or “duty” officer in a multi-rig station usually knew the box numbers by heart but if not would look them up then pull the levers to release the horses to their rigs and alert the station. This box system is still used today in many cities except now it’s “plectron” tones and computer aided dispatch.

The system was also used to pass on certain news such as the passing of a firefighter. Depending on the municipality a service of 3-4 sets of 3 or 5 bells would be toned out signalling the passing of a firefighter. The same series of 3 or 5 would then be repeated at the funeral, often from the bell of the firefighters “mushine” but today usually from a stand-mounted bell.

With that in mind:

Attention all stations, Randy’s Reliable Updates signals box 5-5-5-5. Geoffrey “Craig” Hunt was memorialized today in San Jose.

The last box has been struck, you’ve caught your last call, your job is done and you are released, we’ve got it from here.




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