My School's Fire Alarm System History

I was motivated by firefreak57 making a topic about how the fire alarm systems in his schools and district changed over time to do the same thing after taking a look at the years my elementary school was around for and figuring out which upgrades it would have been installed with at different periods over the years. I have no proof to back any of these or the years up but this is what I would BELIEVE have happened over the years after the school was built in 1918. So without further ado, lets go.

1918 to 1954 - The original system was just one bell on each floor connected to a pull rod that would be pulled to alert the occupants that a fire started in the building.

1955 to 1975 - When the school upgraded to an automated electric fire alarm system, the bells and the pull rods were removed along with any other remnants and the school had IBM 4030 horns put in.

1976 to 1991 - The school had its alarms once again upgraded when Simplex finally had started using alarms of their own rather than using alarms from another company. This time they were Simplex 4051 horns on 4050-80 light plates. The other schools in the district also at one point had these alarms so its more than likely this school had them also.

1992 to 1994 - A new cafeteria was built and the alarms that were used in the installation were Simplex 2901-9838 horns on Simplex 4903-9101 strobe plates. This included an entryway outside the cafeteria. The old cafeteria was converted to a classroom wing and the 4051s+4050-80s there were replaced with the 4903s+9838s. 4051s+4050-80s in the elevator room and in the storage and boiler room were also replaced as they had died. The rest of the 4051s+4050-80s remained untouched.

1994 - Two 4051s+4050-80s in two back rooms ended up breaking down so they were then replaced by Gentex SHG horn/strobes after it was discovered the horns died. One classroom was what would become the dual art/music room when I was there (and the first time I heard it) before becoming an ESL classroom and the other room was a self-contained classroom for grades 4 to 6 before becoming a reading room and then the speech and psychologist’s room.

1995 - The 4903+9838 that was in the classroom that used to be the former cafeteria kitchen stopped working and was replaced with a vertical Wheelock AS set to code-3. This room was a first grade classroom before becoming a multipurpose room and now it is a music room.

1995 to 2012 - All of the remaining 4051s+4050-80s were replaced with Simplex 4903-9219 horn/strobes as well as a lone 4903+9838 combo in a basement hallway while all of the other horns that were installed during the time the school was using the 4051s+4050-80s remained in the school.

1995 - All of the bathrooms except the two in the cafeteria received Simplex 4904-9137 remote strobes within them that would flash during an alarm in case the alarm couldn’t be heard outside.

2013 to 2017 - The whole system including all of the devices as well as the pull stations were replaced with a Notifier system and SpectrAlert Advanced speaker/strobes were what was used as the notification appliances.

2018 - The school is currently being renovated right now and it is holding classes in the Pawtucket Annex. If the system is replaced again, I would assume it would have System Sensor L speaker/strobes.

I’m hoping everyone’s okay with this, but I’m going to use this topic to post my own district’s fire alarm history, rather than creating a whole new topic with the same name as this one. Also keep in mind that there are several schools in my district (elementary mainly), that I’ve never physically been inside of, and the information from those schools has been gathered through some online research, and a little bit of guesswork based upon similar schools I have been inside of. Finally, note that I’m not going to be using any real school names, but I’ll instead be referring to them as ‘School 1’, etc.

Anyways, my district is a pretty large one. Eight elementary schools, three middle schools, and two high schools. To keep this post just reasonably long and not totally insane, I’m going to be splitting all of this information into three different posts (parts). The first is going to be this introduction, the second will be every school’s “old” fire alarm system(s), pre-2000s upgrade (aside from one school that’s too new to have warranted an upgrade yet), and the third post will be every school’s ADA-compliant “new” fire alarm system. I’ll probably post parts 2 and 3 later tonight or tomorrow, or whenever I have the chance to sit in front of my computer for 30 minutes typing information that most would consider useless :smiley: .

This actually took me quite a bit of time to put together so I do hope you’ll all read it, as my district has actually gone through some interesting transitions over the past few decades, and the fire alarm systems definitely reflect that. In any case, I’m going to say that I’ve never seen or heard of another school district with so many different brands of fire alarm systems in service.


My School District’s Fire Alarm System History | Part 2 | Pre-ADA Systems

I’ll just refer to this as ‘School 1’, which is a high school, and was built in 1917, making it by far the oldest building in my district. Unfortunately, I don’t really know what, if any, fire alarm system was originally installed, but sometime in the late-1960s or early-1970s a Simplex system with Simplex 40XX horns was installed (you’ll be hearing this quite a bit). I’m not certain on the exact panel, or pull stations (if there were any). This system survived until 1994, when it was upgraded.

Next, we have ‘School 2’. This is an elementary school, built in 1948. This is also the one school in which I have absolutely no information regarding the pre-ADA system, so I’ll just leave it at that. This system (or probably an upgraded one from the original), survived until around 2012.

Now things start to get a little messy, because lots of schools were constructed from the late 1950s through the early 1970s. ‘School 3’, also an elementary school, was constructed in 1958 and originally had a Simplex system with a mixture of Simplex 4030 and 4037 horns. ‘School 4’ and ‘School 5’, both middle schools, were constructed in the early 1960s, only a few years apart. They’re both virtually identical on the inside, and both have seemingly undergone two fire alarm upgrades since being constructed. The original 1960s system was most likely identical to ‘School 3’, but in the 1980s both schools received new Simplex systems with Simplex 2903-series light or strobe plates, and Simplex 2901-9806(?) horns. Next, we have ‘School 6’,‘School 7’, and ‘School 8’. ‘School 6’ and ‘School 7’ are both elementary schools, and ‘School 8’ is my current high school. All three were constructed in the late 1960s. Obviously I’ve talked about these systems before, but all three schools had a Simplex 2001(?) system with Simplex 40XX horns, and no pull stations to my knowledge. All of the systems in these schools were upgraded at different times, but I’ll get more in-depth with that in part 3.

Now, fast forward to the late 80s, when three identical (quite literally identical) elementary schools were constructed. ‘School 9’, ‘School 10’, and ‘School 11’. Each one opened one year after the last, in 1989, 1990, and 1991. All three of these schools had Simplex 4002 systems with Simplex 4904-9101 strobe plates and 2901-9838 horns, along with Simplex 4251-20 pull stations. Ironically, these systems were all upgraded (or not) at different times, so you’ll see quite a bit more variety in part 3.

You might have noticed that I’m missing ‘School 12’ and ‘School 13’. That’s because these schools were built in 2008, so they obviously still have their original ADA-compliant systems. I’ll talk about these systems in part 3.

So does anybody have any comments on my school’s fire alarm system first of all?

These existed? I thought the horizontal strobe came first and then the option for code 3.

I assume the 1955-1975 system was set to 4-4-4-4 code, the 1976 system was set to continuous and from 1995 it was gradually replaced with horns set to code 3, until the installation of the voice evac system in 2013?

First Wheelock made Wheelock AS’s that were horizontal and only did continuous. Then they made horizontal AS’s that were capable continuous near the end of its run. Then came the vertical AS’s. The AS in my elementary school was horizontal and did code-3. That was my mistake.

As for the system, you probably are right about the 4-4-4-4 code and then in 1976 it being on continuous. My middle school and I’m sure some of the remaining schools that have or had 4051s+4050-80s had them in continuous and the light flashed in march time. As for the 1995 system, the 9219s, SHGs and the 9838s on 4903 strobe plates were continuous. The AS was code-3. There was a bit of an issue when the OT teacher and the enrichment teacher were in that room for the first year and they heard the alarm going off and didn’t know what it was until they saw the strobe flashing. The OT teacher told me that she thought the kid that pulled it tried to put the T-Bar back up.

By horizontal and vertical, are we talking about the strobe or the device as a whole? First came the ones that had the strobe mounted vertically on the right, and later came the ones that had the strobe mounted horizontally on the top (although the only real difference is the orientation of the FIRE lettering).

The strobe is what I was talking about. The first AS’s that came out had the strobe to the right. They did continuous. Near the VERY end of its production, a few of them got a code-3 option. Then the strobe was mounted on the top.

A little off topic here, but what is a district? Here where I live, the school board I went to had about 45 elementary schools and 9 high schools. I’ve just never heard the term district used here before in terms of schools.

A school district is the local school system which serves your township/city/county, etc. There can be both large and small districts; for example, major cities all have one public school district. The teen district only applies to public schools, parochial and private schools are known as charter schools as they are a largely Independent institution which doesn’t need to necessarily follow all the government regulations and guidelines that public schools do. However it has been proven that students in public schools get a more diverse education experience than those in private schools due to the fact that public schools cannot deny admission to any student; every child has the right to an equal opportunity and a quality education; whereas private schools are allowed to deny admissions.

One of these days I will get around to do my junior high school/middle school which unlike most of the district, STILL has its old fire alarm system.