Emergency Phones

From the archives. Random find. Utility poles in downtown Raleigh that once had emergency phones mounted. September 2010. Plus one historical picture.

In 1971, city officials authorized installation of a telephone system to replace the familiar fire alarm boxes and for reasons including the frequency of false calls. By that year, false calls accounted for 80 percent of the alarms transmitted by the “street boxes.”

Planned were 320 telephone boxes, with all calls recorded on tape. The Emergency Phone Response (ERP) boxes served for decades, until overtaken by the widespread use of cell phones. The last telephone boxes were removed from service in 2007.

The last box alarm was sent from Box 433 on May 14, 1973, for an incinerator that set off sprinklers at a building. The alarm system, with some 270+ boxes, was subsequently dismantled.

On March 18, 1974, the surplus equipment was sold, including 250 alarm boxes, thirteen gongs, four registers, and one repeater. Purchasers included the towns of Henderson, Lexington, and Thomasville.

Vintage photo from a 35mm slide scan via Raleigh Fire Museum, from a collection found at the Raleigh/Wake Emergency Communications Center years ago. See those pics in this Flickr album.

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