Gift of Electrical Dept., City of Oakland

Fire Alarm Transmitter, 4' x 2'3" x 2",mounted on marble topped wood cabinet, 4'9" x 3' x 3'2". In glass case: Automatic Fire Alarm Transmitter in which operator set up box number which was transmitted from Central Fire Alarm Station to Fire Dept. Quarters. Purchased 1911. In operation to 1952 as auxilliary. (D. Cooper, 6/2000) This equipment was removed from the Central Fire Alarm Station which, I believe, is located at the corner of Oak and 14th St. Its history: (From the Montclarion and the OHA News, Spring 2000 by Erica Mailman) Oakland's historic Fire Alarm Building is so low-key, you may not have noticed it before. Tucked into the triangular-shaped plot next to the Courthouse on Oak St., the one story structure was deliberately built to "harmonize with the general plans of park improvement" (according to a 1910 article in the Oakland Tribune), and thus blends in, to a certain extent, with the trees and shrubbery....The building's architect, Walter Mathews, was also responsible for the Hotel Oakland, the Athenian Club and the Orpheum Theater. The Fire Alarm structure was originally erected as a municipal electric building, to house both the fire and police telegraph. Oakland's first alarm circuit had been installed in 1870 by the police captain, using his own money. It consisted of four miles of wire and five Morse code stations. All officers at the time were required to know Morse code. Three years later, the city bought the system from the captain for $800. Later, city prisoners in a labor program built a fire line separate from the police wire. The first eleven fire alarm boxes were installed in 1876, and they were actually locked. To ring an alarm, one had to go to a neighboring business or residence, obtain a key and return to the alarm box. By 1879, there were 21 boxes citywide, with 30 miles of wire. In 1909, the year before the Firs Alarm building was built, there were 157 boxes--still locked, though the change to the present break-glass boxes came soon after. The number of alarm boxes rose steadily until 1978, when 1,300 of them were removed, because of the rising cost of maintenance and false alarms....Further discussion of the need to preserve the building.

Used: Central Fire Alarm Station | Fire Department Quarters | Fire alarm

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