A History of  Alarm and Box Circuits in the City of Oakland  by M. Elaine Sweeney 1981

This is an exceptional paper written by an Oakland Fire Dispatcher. Download the PDF version below

Oakland Fire Alarm Building 1911-1983

Fire Alarm Building


Oakland's Fire Alarm building opened in 1911 and was built as a result of the 1906 Earthquake. Built as a "Fireproof" building, in a city park and fed by 3 separate power grids. Operation discontinued in 1983, when operations moved to 1605 Martin Luther King Jr way

Incoming Box Circuits


48 box circuits came into the equipment that attached to the tape registers as shown above. 

Fire Alarm Operators


All of the original operators were also City Electricians. besides dispatching, the Electrician could trouble shoot and test the equipment attached to the outgoing box and house circuits. In 1977, Fire dispatcher were hired in anticipation of the Fire dispatch operations being moved to the Fire Department in 1983 and the removal of the street boxes in 1978. Pictured are Electricians Ed Brown and X

Fire Dispatchers


Here the first Fire Dispatcher and Female Dispatcher, Nancy Shroder . Nancy is shown looking up a box response for a reported location.

Dispatch Area


to the left was known as the "Hot Seat" and to the left was the "Cold Seat". Calls came in via the telephone , by the box circuits and private Alarm companies. The tape register above their heads was known as the master tape. it received the box circuits, Private alarms and the receipt of sent dispatches 

Incoming Tape Registers


Lined up were 48 Steinitz Tape registers Invented in 1922. by the Oakland Instrument maker Gus Steinitz for this Fire Dispatch Center. When removed, Each circuit served about 35 Fire boxes each