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Old 11-21-2007, 6:16 AM
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Default Still Alarm & Silent Alarm, What Do They Mean?

For years now I've been wondering what a still alarm and a silent alarm are. I hear Louisville fire & rescue use one or the other on every dispatch except box alarms (i know what they are) so could somebody please tell me what they mean?
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Old 11-21-2007, 9:06 AM
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Googled Still and Silent alarms got these:

Still- http://www.yourdictionary.com/still-alarm

Silent- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silent_Alarm

These are text book definitions so i am sure thats what they mean
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Old 11-21-2007, 9:15 AM
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Dont really know why they need to put the alarm type over the air. But most Incident reporting requires that you list how the alarm was received............Hoser
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Old 11-21-2007, 9:19 AM
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Yea i Agree with you i guess its Jefferson County for ya being sofisticated. I run Fire Department in Henry County and we say ex: 6624 responding and jefferson county's got to say: engine 6624. They require car: quad, quint, engine, med, etc in front of all their numbers.
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Old 11-21-2007, 11:04 PM
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One of the reasons for doing that is so that you know what type of apparatus is responding to a run. Especially when you multiple departments responding which is almost all the time anymore. Another reason could be so that the actual unit number is not cut out when calling radio, so that the dispatcher would know without having them to repeat.

In reference to the definitions provided above, those are incorrect in relations to the Fire Service.

Still alarm is used when one engine responds to a call for service such as EMS Assist or mitigation.

Silent Alarm might be something like a fire alarm, auto accident with rescue, something that doesnt require 3 Engines, 2 Trucks, and a command car(full compliment)

Hope this helps a little.
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Old 11-21-2007, 11:16 PM
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I wonder why jefferson county redefined the definitions of still and silent? It would get me confused if i was a probationary firefighter. I think the The unit clarification is a good system makes it sound more professional. I just it lets them know what the unit is doing ex: a quint could be a engine,quad, or the quint.
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Old 11-23-2007, 2:07 AM
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Thanks for the info and if anyone else has anything to add please do.BTW I stopped trying to figure out why Louisville is so wierd years ago.I just accept everything as it is (less stress that way).
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Old 11-23-2007, 4:18 PM
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In some places a still alarm is reported by a field unit to dispatch meaning they have made contact with a victim and have not been dispatched. Someone drives up to fire station with an injury or illness. A silent alarm is frequently used by law enforcment to mean there are no audible alarms going off to scare off the bad guys. Usually results in a rapid resonse.
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Old 11-23-2007, 11:26 PM
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I don't know about Jeff Co, but in Chicago a "Still alarm" is any report of a building fire via phone to the dispatch center.
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Old 11-23-2007, 11:27 PM
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The good news is that all of you responding are young and have many long years of radio scanning ahead of you. The bad news is that "Still" and "Silent" alarms are ancient things, like me, and with respect to local application of these terms your responses were, sadly, not quite 100% correct.

First, for some reason, the fire service tends to cling to traditions for many different reasons. Long ago, fire chiefs rode in horse buggies to the fire scene. Those horses are long gone, the vehicle used by fire chiefs is still called "buggie" by some, as compared to the nature of the person within the vehicle.

Many years ago before most everyone having a landline telephone in their homes, there was a need to have a system to report fires. A medical doctor by the name of William Channing invented a system akin to the telegraph system, to summon the fire department. The rights to this were purchased by a guy name John Nelson Gamewell. Mr. Gamewell founded a company that manufactured these systems for many municipalities.

A fire alarm call box was located at a number of intersections throughout a city. Each box would have its own number. When someone wished to summon the fire department, (or others intent on being mischevious usually young miscreants such as me back in my younger days), they would go to the nearest fire alarm box and pull the red handle.

A signal would be sent from that box giving its number and was received at the fire department communications facility. Way back when, the Louisville facility was called the "Fire Tower", a term still used by some old timers. This signal would result in a series of bells being rung at the alarm facility. For example, box number 321 would have 3 rings, a pause; 2 rings and another pause; and 1 ring with a longer pause. This would be cycled a couple of times.

The folks at the fire alarm facility would look up the box number in their box cards index and determine which fire companies are to respond to that intersection.

The fire alarm operator would then set up another signal to go to fire stations over another telegraph type system. It would be pretty much the same thing a series of bells to indicate the box number.

Since numbers could be forgotten or confused, particularly if multiple alarms occurred at the same time, there was also a "ticker-tape" punching device that would punch a series of holes in ticker tape. This thing was called in Louisville "The Joker". There was a "Joker" at the fire alarm facility as well as at each fire station. The "Joker" was located at a certain point in the fire station and was called "The Joker Stand".

That term, means a place where communications occur between the fire station and the fire alarm facility, is still in use today. At our fire station, we have an area we call "The Joker stand", consisting of a blackboard, telephone, papers and a radio console.

Since there was no indication of what kind of fire was being reported, an alarm assignment, usually of three engines, two ladders (or trucks owing to where you are in the country) and one chief was sent to every incident reported by the fire alarm system.

As time marched on, more and more people started to have telephones. Since more information could be given on what exactly is on fire, the equipment to respond could be scaled back if needed.

Take the example of someone reporting by telephone a car fire. Usually only one engine would be sent. The fire alarm facility simply called the appropriate fire station on the telephone. No bells would be sent out, or ticker-tape punching. In other words, the "Joker was silent" for that call.

Another example would be an automobile accident with rescue being reported by telephone or perhaps police radio. In that case, one engine, one truck and one chief is the desired response. Again, the only communication would be a telephone call to the applicable fire stations. No bells and no ticker tape punching. Since that kind of alarm was a little different than the "Joker is silent" alarm, a different term was needed. So instead of the Joker being silent, the Joker was "Still".

As time marched along and radios became in use, there was an alerting signal sent out. Locally this consists of a single tone for a couple of seconds. This kind of alerting system came about when the space ace first came to be. So the term "Sputnik" was given to this single tone alerting fire people that a fire was about to be dispatched, and you should listen for whatever thing you need to listen to, in order to be informed of a fire to which you should respond.

If it was a serious fire, such as a building fire, you would hear the Joker going off for a Box Alarm. You checked your box cards to see if you were to respond.

A "medium" sized emergency, the Joker would be still, and your phone may ring, or you may have a radio go off.

A small sized emergency, the Joker would be silent, and your phone may ring or you may have a radio go off.

Years ago, they quit using fire alarm boxes at intersections and simply went to a telephone reporting system. All that equipment was removed and is now quite valuable to collectors.

The terms are still in use today in the interests of preserving heritage, traditions and so on.

A Silent alarm is usually a one company deal. A Still alarm is 2-3 companies. A Box alarm is more owing to where you are.

Today, we still use the "Sputnik" (and still call it "the Sputnik") tone on fire operations channels to alert firefighters that an incident is about to be dispatched, so you should listen to the radio dispatch channel.

This is but a small snippet of information concerning how the fire alarm telegraph system worked way back when. They have certain boxes to mean certain things, such as using a different channel, a firefighter fatality at a fire, multiple alarms, clearing alarms and so on.

Kind of fascinating and brings back many fond memories of visiting the fire alarm facility when they were doing this kind of system, back in the mid 70s.

Last edited by ofd8001; 11-23-2007 at 11:31 PM..
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Old 11-24-2007, 1:42 PM
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OFD brings a lot of good information about where some modern day fire service terms come from. There's a lot of history in the fire service, and learning what it is and why it is has always been fascinating.

I cut-and-pasted the OP's message and mailed it to a friend that works for Louisville FD, and this was his response:

As you can probably tell, a "box alarm" is a structure fire or large scale haz-mat. It consists of 5 companies, which could be a mix of engines, a Squrt, a Telesqurt, a quad, Telesqurts, quints, and trucks. But, generally, the alarm requires at least two to act as truck companies, obviously, a quad, quints, or trucks.

A "silent alarm" is anything that a single company should be able to handle - medical call, car fire, trash fire, wash-off, ect. It will generally be an engine, quint, quad, Squrt, or Telesqurt company. However, a truck company can respond on medical calls if needed. Sometimes, if the response is on a freeway, two companies will be dispatched on a "silent alarm" in different directions. Whichever company winds up with the best access will cancel the second.

A "still alarm" is a two company dispatch - an engine, Squrt, or Telesqurt along with a quint, quad, or truck. These include fire alarms, gas leaks, extrications, and other rescues. Two companies should generally be able to handle these situations. On rescues, another company could be requested, which could be dispatched as a "silent alarm" or "special alarm." Or, if a fire alarm turns out to be structure fire, then the "box will be filled out."

District Chiefs are generally only dispatched on box alarms, but can add themselves to any call or be requested by a company on any scene.

So, type of alarm does not dictate response modes, just the number of companies being dispatched. It goes back to the old days, an era that we can't seem to shake, LOL.

Hope this helps!
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Old 11-24-2007, 6:48 PM
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I knew I should have waited for the Chief to read this. Thanks for clearing my post up...LOL...I have been out of the game way to long....
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Old 11-25-2007, 4:10 AM
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Thanks so much for all the help and thanks for the history lession Chief, I found it vary interesting.
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Old 03-26-2009, 4:35 AM
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Default Alarm clocks for hearing impaired

My friendís brother is hearing impaired and as his birthday is coming up next week, I thought I could give him a useful gift to help him as he travels often being a salesman. He often complains that he is late for appointments as his present alarm clock does not function well. Do you know of any site from where I can buy a great alarm clock for hearing impaired people?
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Old 03-26-2009, 9:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garrett12 View Post
My friendís brother is hearing impaired and as his birthday is coming up next week, I thought I could give him a useful gift to help him as he travels often being a salesman. He often complains that he is late for appointments as his present alarm clock does not function well. Do you know of any site from where I can buy a great alarm clock for hearing impaired people?
Welcome to RR.com.
I believe you are confused as to what the subject of this thread is about
This thread is about "Fire Alarms" not bedside alarms.
And for what you are looking for Google is your friend!
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