The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, July 18, 2008

Did you know?

The Mosquito recently came across a bit of history behind the town’s old-fashioned fire call boxes. Looking like little firehouses, the boxes were first installed in 1938. Box #41 is mounted on a utility pole on School Street by the Town Common, and while box #24 is next to Carlisle School’s front door, box #14 is outside the Gleason Library.

One of the town’s fire boxes visible at the Carlisle School. (Photo by Cynthia Sorn)


The red boxes have “fire” written in large letters on the side to denote their purpose. On the front is a white door with a handle and instructions that read: “For fire open then pull down hook.”

When the hook is pulled, Fire Chief David Flannery explains, a metal wheel turns inside, and in the old days, transmitted a telegraph signal to the fire station, which was received by a telegraph transmitter that would punch the box code into a tape (41 punches for box 41). Now it emits an electronic signal, but it is manually created by the cranking of the hook.

The boxes were made by the Gamewell Company in Newton, Massachusetts, and were installed by the L.W. Bills Company, explained Flannery. The company still services the equipment, he said. The original 1938 L. W. Bills transmitter is mounted on the wall of his office. Said Flannery, “We still do have the punch tape at the communications center, in case the electronics fail.” ∆

© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito