Monday, July 27, 2015

GAMEWELL SYSTEM




In 1876, the 
City of Denver installed a Gamewell Fire Alarm Telegraph system. It consisted of eight miles of wire, two circuits and 18 alarm boxes. Initially, the boxes were connected to a huge bell mounted atop a 150-foot tower. By counting the strokes of the box number, firefighters were able to locate the alarm. By 1890, the Gamewell system had been expanded to 55 miles of wire and 95 boxes. Signals were transmitted by wire to firehouses. The telegraph system was expanded in the 20th Century and remained in service until 1971.


DENVER: 700 BOXES, 33 CIRCUITS, MILES OF WIRE


Receiver


In the 20th Century, the City of Denver was divided into five alarm zones:

1 - Central
2 - Southern
3 - Capital Hill
4 - Eastern
5 - Northern

Each fire alarm telegraph zone was divided into five sectors.

Each alarm box was assigned a four-digit identification number.

For example:

The fire alarm box at the corner of Colfax and Pennsylvania was assigned No. 1374.

"1" - The first digit identified the zone (Central).

"3" - The second digit identified the sector within the zone (Sector 3).

"7" and "4" - The third and four digits were unique to the transmitter of each box (Box 74).

In the 19th Century, when the city was less populated, each fire alarm box was assigned a two-digit identification number.

For example:

The box at 17th and Lawrence under the earlier system was numbered Box 27 and under the later system Box 1221.

SOURCE: Denver Firefighters Museum


ALARM BOX --> HEADQUARTERS --> REPEATER --> FIREHOUSE

Opening the door of an alarm box and pulling the hook would trip a clockwork motor. The motor turned a notched wheel unique to each box. The wheel broke an electrical circuit. The notches on the wheel were arranged to send a signal identifying the alarm station to fire headquarters, which manually relayed the signal to firehouse receivers via a repeater. The repeater tapped out the box number over a system of station bells several times. For example, the wheel for Box 27 would have been two notches, a space, and seven notches. Firehouse bells would tap out the signal 2-7 for Box 27 in repetition, typically four times. A paper tape would also record the signal to verify the box number. Firefighters would refer to a "running card" to determine in what order they were "due at the box," i.e. first, second, third, etc.


Official List of Colorado Cities with Gamewell Systems in 1940s
Aspen
Boulder
Canon City
Colorado Springs
Cripple Creek
Denver
Durango
Fort Collins
Golden
Greely
Idaho Springs
Leadville
Manitou
Ouray
Pueblo
Salida
Sterling
Trinidad
Victor
Source: Youngstown Fire

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