VIDEO: The Boston Fire Department’s alarm boxes are the same as they ever were – 170 years on the job, and they still work.
They are brightly colored, well-marked and appear every 1,000 feet on Boston streets. Still, the vast communications system has, through time and familiarity, become almost invisible — hidden in plain sight. Even in a world filled with cell phones, the old system still has its place. There's no language barrier, no location confusion and no delay. Pull the hook and help can be there within four minutes.
Boston's system, consisting of about 1,200 fire alarm boxes, is the oldest fire alarm system in the country.
In fact, the technology, if you could call it that, is the same as when these boxes first went up in 1852. It is essentially a telegraph using morse code.