Bells

Bells on fire trucks, do they have a practical use?


  • Total voters
    25

Engine33Truck

Assistant Chief
A question I often ask, do bells have a practical use? I never thought so until I joined Keyser and heard a story of either KFD's or Tri-Town's first out engine's Q siren, back up siren and airhorns all breaking and the officer being forced to use the bell alone.
 

magicitybill

Lieutenant
They did in the past! There were no horns or motors, only street car bells. So locomotive bells could be heard from quite a distance. Untill cars had AC and loud radios I think a lot of people could still hear them. In the 80s I rang the bell on our Hann on every run. I punished those who failed to yield with the Q though.
 

MFDPhoto1

USAF-SAC/Vet.
Correct me if I am wrong, but the "bells" also were used as 'signals' at a fire scene...before HT radios. I.e., 2 taps...open the hydrant; 1 tap shut down the hydrant, etc., etc.

Again (before radio's), I do remember in the late '40's being at Central sta. when a 'fill-in' Co. was inside, and when Co. No. 1 pulled up out in front, they would 'tap the bell twice'...indicating they were back, and the 'fill-in' should pull out so they could back in.

Funny thing...all that 'NO-TECH' worked out very well, but today if the lousy radio is not working, everyone stands around looking at each other. Keep in mind, radios (and cell phones) DO FAIL at the worse time, and there should always be a 'Plan-B' when they do fail.

"The chain is only as strong as the weakest link."
 

magicitybill

Lieutenant
In the hand drawn days bells were used to get people to get out of the way! Some trip gongs were struck by the rotation of the wheel. In the days of steamers traffic had started to pick up and the bell served the same purpose. Street cars had bells but they made a different sound and the bell of the steamer was easly recogonized on the street. I think that early motorized apparatus did the same thing. I have heard that ringing the bell once when back at the station signaled a return to service. There were not too many competing sounds untill around the 40s. In the 80s I rang the bell on our Hann on nearly every call. I punished those that failed to yield with the Q though!
 

alvin201

Firefighter
On one department we operated two piece engine companies, officer and most men rode the first piece, the hose wagon. The pumper followed with driver and one man. If the radio indicated we were going to a worker, the man in the cab of the second piece used the bell to alert the guys on the back step of the first piece.
 

Bklyn Phil

Lieutenant
The Bells of Remembrance are former church bells mounted in a trailer and brought to NYC to commemorate 9/11. Here is the main bell from the 2004 Annual Fr Mychal Judge memorial walk which begins at Eng 1 Ladder 24 of West 31 Street and then goes down to Ground Zero stopping at firehouses and police stations along the way to commemorate their unit's LODDs on that tragic day.

Phil, Bklyn
 

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X Chief 1

Firefighter
I guess if anything can happen, just give it enough time and it will. The overhead door on first out engine wouldn't open; brakes locked-up on second out. Our 1932 Seagrave was setting there. I had it pushed about six feet (on magnito) and, of course, it started. I had not siren or lights but we did have a bell (almost every fire engine in the '30's had a bell). With no muffler and the bell they heard us coming. Yes, we did extinguish the house fire. I sincerely feel that bells have a very useful purpose. They also produce a sound unlike anything else and can be heard over most other things.
X Chief 1
 

MFDPhoto1

USAF-SAC/Vet.
October 6, 2013 "Bells Across America for Fallen Firefighters"

History:

The sound of a bell holds special significance for firefighters. Historically, the toll of a bell summoned members to the station, signaled the beginning of a shift, notified departments of a call for help, and indicated a call was completed and the unit had returned to the station.

Departments sounded a series of bells when a firefighter died in the line of duty to alert all members that a comrade had made the ultimate sacrifice. This time-honored tradition continues today during the funerals or memorial services for firefighters.

http://www.bellsacrossamerica.com/
 

Bklyn Phil

Lieutenant
At the 2007 commemoration of 9-11-2001, a bell was presented to the brothers of Eng 1 Ladder 24 to commemorate their loses and the loss of the Chaplain, Fr. Mychal Judge, O.F.M. who lived across the street in St Francis of Assisi Priory.

More info about the Bells of Remembrance here:
https://hnp.org/bells-of-remembrance-ring-at-carnegie-hall/

Phil, Bklyn
 

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