when I  began in the mid  70's  it was  Long  before  911  centers each  Fire  district had a 7  diget number that was an  emergency phone number  as it happened the Police  dispatch answered  the  number and  took the  call, then  Toned  out the "correct"  department,  the  "funny"  part was  once  that  was  complete  they washed they're hands of  anything  beyond  a radio  call to them  requesting  additional assistance,.. Not  even  mutual aid... now in My  department  we had  2  companies 2  seperate  volunteer  firehouses  each with 2 or  more   pieces ... the gig went like this  you responded to your house and  if it had Not  happened you would retone  and  reannounce the alarm, If You were  NOT a qualified  Driver, or a JR   you ran  the radio show... (needless to say  we had  guys who would hide in the bushes  and  all kinda  crap, NOT  to  take the/get stuck on the radio....  Something  that was  REALLY old  school  was in the days  prior to the New Station (Circa  1967) you would  pull  the engine  out  on the   ramp and  pull the tuning   fork  out og the glove  box  Key the mike  and  wack the tuning  fork and  hold it to the mike and  "open the Plectron (10/10's)   as they were  called   we  used  a low  band   and  those  Recievers   had  NO squelch  at all,,  so  you  might come home  to  squelch at  2 am ...lol eventually   a squelch  was added,  a  Real  Dispatch was added..lol

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I joined back in 1981 we have always had a county fire dispatcher,But did have the 7 digit number for emergencies, was also issued one of those big red monitors (not a pager) man when that went off it would wake the dead,lol also never had to get assigned radio room duty the deal was who ever was at the station first would write the address and nature of the call on a big black board for those of us who could not remember where we were going,now we have minitor 5's and dispatch sends a fax for rip and go call info , Man things have changed in thirty years
Hey,I forgot about those old red monitors.Everybody used to have one of those.
Our emergency calls went to one of two PD's and they dispatched us.We didn't have one but several depts. in the county had remotes that would answer the fire phone for that dept. too.Good old days of low band.I liked it.It would actually work 99% of the time.
There's still a county in upstate New York that still runs that old phone system where if the sheriff deputy or the chief (depending on who has that red phone) will take down the information and tell it over the phone. The phone would activate other house phones to let the firefighters know that there's a fire at Farmer Brown's house. By the way, it's rare to have addresses and most times go by the homeowner's name.
Back in the '50s when my dept. started the first chief had the equipment in his garage and a siren on the roof.The phone rang into the genareal store across the road.One time the phone rang and the person who called said "My house is on fire!" and hung up.The person who answered the phone recognized the voice so they knew where to go.
We've come a long way.
I started in the early '70s Also no 911 and local PD dispatched us
However they did a punch card of times for our records and did a great job of
monitoring our frequency We had an automatic system that paged us on the primary
transmitter then the voice annoucement and then 20 seconds later the tones were
tranmittted from our sconary radio Originally they had siren and telephone system
to alert but had gone to plectrons by then then to pagers and retired the siren
Also carried 3 mobile radios in chiefs car attack pumper and ladder we were on a county
line had local, county and bordering county frequecies

The small town I started in,in 1973,  had a unique set up. PD took the call, called the station(across the street) told the person who answered(after 2200 was usually drunk, I'm not kidding), the dispatcher would make a blind announcement on the CB base radio(ch. 11), first person down stairs would hit the siren switch, and the dispatcher , at their disgression, would start calling the volunteers one at a time on the phone. Only one engine had a radio. Both were old Johnson White Face CB's. If it was raining or humid you took your life in your own hands. Base radio was poorly grounded and you could get a nice shock from the mike. I would leave it on the hook and use a pen to press the button, after a couple of jolts.

Haha  1st off  1980's  is  way to young,,"County Dispatch"  hahaha   In one  district  the 7 digit  # was  answered at the chiefs  house and an extension went Into The  town police (they might  answer after 50 rings?) the chiefs  wife or  if they were  going out for the day or evening  someone" else  deputy  would move in..lol eventually  the local 911 dispatch  took over about 1980... The  Firehouse  was literally 1000' up the road   and god forbid In those  early days  the lights were on  or you were there..lol within a few years they were dispatching Us out knowing we could  be AT the other station Before  the other side  of town guys  could get to that  station.. which hurt moral there...lol .  We  Had a Chalk Board on the front between  the doors, and

The  real old timers told  of  Carrying  "chalk" bags, that were  tossed  out  at  intersections (marking Turns)  in the days  before  radios.. in Rural settings .. Sure   some places (Kansas) it "should'nt be so hard"  in hills and  dales and  woods  forests  ..  you better  know.....

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