If you're looking for sources other than the usual ones above, here are some routes to try:
usually has some fire alarm items for sale, though sometimes overpriced. If you're into antique devices and coded pull stations, this is definitely a site to check. I've had good experiences with Etsy sellers in the past.
- There are other auction sites besides eBay that people actually use. I've seen fire alarms sold on government liquidation auctions
, US postal service recovered mail auctions
, and liquidations of private estates
. Most school districts hold annual auctions just to get rid of stuff, and many items get sold for pennies. There are still auctions held in real life, too. If you're looking for Gamewell masterboxes, they're sometimes sold off at borough and fire department auctions.
- Keep your ears open for buildings scheduled to be demolished. When you see a fence go up, the demolition company is now in charge of the property and may be willing to salvage items for you. Depending on the situation, you may be able to just walk up, ask a worker, and offer to remove the items yourself. If there's no one to talk to, call the company and explain that you're a collector. If it's not obvious which company is handling the job, do some research (such as looking for newspaper articles related to the project, or calling a town or borough office). Before asking, you'll want to think about payment. Demolition companies are used to dealing with salvagers and would probably be far more open to getting you alarms if you compensated them for it, especially since they may not allow you to enter the building and might have to remove it themselves.
- Pop in some junky-looking antique shops. The ritzier places will be overpriced, but there are a lot of shops that sell old electrical equipment and fire department-related stuff. There's one booth in a shop near me that has had a different fire alarm device each time I've checked. I guess the guy has learned that I'm a sure sale when it comes to alarms. I picked up a box full of vintage 270-SPO's there once for $15.
- If your school, college, or company is doing a renovation or system replacement, it doesn't hurt to ask the right people. Your best bet is to catch a fire alarm technician while they're there and explain that you're a collector. If that's not possible, you could get in touch with a maintenance person or facilities manager, but don't expect too much. Some institutions require a property release form to be submitted when stuff is given away, and they wouldn't have any real incentive to do that for you other than being nice. I did, however, get tons of stuff from a very nice lead fire alarm tech at a major hospital. Also, in this type of situation, offering to pay won't get you far since institutions often have no structure or precedent for accepting money for a one-off purchase outside their usual ecosystem.
- Dumpster diving! A few members here have gotten very lucky.