Wednesday, 16 October 2019 19:07

Emergency siren returns to Hamlet Fire Department

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The Hamlet Fire Department's old siren has returned to the station after years of sitting atop a water tower. The Hamlet Fire Department's old siren has returned to the station after years of sitting atop a water tower. William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

HAMLET — A piece of history has returned to the Hamlet Fire Department.

An old siren that used to sit atop the old city hall and station on Main Street is now mounted on a pole outside the current station, according to Chief Calvin White.

“This siren was used a lot back then,” he said. “Of course, technology wasn’t around to where all the members had radios or pagers.”

White said, at the time, members had 1010 boxes, which sat inside firemen’s homes and received calls through an antenna.

“Well, if you were inside, of course, you could hear that,” White said. “If you were outside doing yard work or whatever, you could not.”

So the siren, which could be heard anywhere within the city limits and for a short distance outside the limits, would alert firemen that there was a call.

The number of times the siren was blown signaled different things, according to White:

  • Once was an out-of-town fire
  • Twice was a fire on the east side of town
  • Three times was the west side of town
  • Four times was north of town
  • Five times was a major wreck or emergency call

After it was taken down from the old city hall, White said it was placed on the water tower at the end of Main Street.

The department has wanted it back for quite a while, White said, but didn’t have the funds to have it taken down and restored — until recently.

When they finally took it down, White said it no longer worked. But a company in Laurinburg was able to reconnect the electrodes and install new bearings and get it operational.

“It’s running perfect,” White said, adding that they’re planning on testing out within the next day or so.

Underneath the siren is an old signal light and pole from the railroad.

“Of course, we’re a train town … and this fire department has been involved with the railroad since before I came here,” White said. “At one time, half the members of the department were Seaboard Railroad workers.”

With the history and cooperation of the railroad, White said he felt like the signal is a “a thank you for them”

The department is currently developing protocols and guidelines for the siren to be used in the future.

White said it will be used for imminent tornado warnings and can be used for hazardous material spills along the tracks or from a tractor-trailer to alert residents that there is a problem and they can contact local officials to find out what’s going on.

The siren will be incorporated into the emergency operations of the department and emergency plan for the city, he said.

“It’s a part of our history, and it’s a part of the city’s history,” he said. “I get asked all the time, ‘What happened to the siren that used to go off on Saturdays at 12 noon … and why is it not working, It’s a part of Hamlet’s history.’

“And it is, so we worked and kept working at it and finally got it to where it is now.”


Last modified on Wednesday, 16 October 2019 19:10