West Paterson Fire still relies on its historic gamewell system, it's well-maintained and functions perfectly. This classic Gamewell fire alarm and pull box system is still used for notifying the fire department of a fire. Typically installed on street corners, Pull Boxes were the main means of summoning firefighters before the general availability of telephones.
When the box is activated by pulling a hook, a spring-loaded wheel turns, tapping out a pulsed electrical signal corresponding to the box's number. A receiver at fire headquarters and here at the firehouse annunciates the pulses via a pen recorder or commonly known as a "Joker System" and the box number is matched to a list of box locations so the firefighters know exactly where to respond. In modern installations a computer receives and translates the pulses; in unmanned installations in small communities, the box number is sounded out by a horn in our system and bell audible in the fire stations.