“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Manassas, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Steam Locomotive Tire Fire Alarm – 1909

Steam Locomotive Tire Fire Alarm - 1909 Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 2, 2007
1. Steam Locomotive Tire Fire Alarm - 1909 Marker
Inscription. One of the challenges for volunteer fire departments is how to alert their members to a fire. In July 1909, the Town of Manassas authorized Mr. J. I. Randall, the first town Fire Chief, to purchase three locomotive tires to be suspended in frames in different parts of town to be used as fire alarms. Each alarm was to be furnished with a hammer or other device to strike the tire.

One alarm was located on Center Street by the Town Hall, another was placed on Grant Avenue at the present location of the Piedmont Building, and the third was erected at the intersection of Center Street and West Street. The alarm at the Town Hall on Center Street used a heavy iron suspended on a rope to be swing like a bell clapper. A small section of the tire had to be cut out in order to produce the loud ringing sound that alerted the volunteers.

The railroad tires were eventually replaced by a steam whistle at the power generating plant on Church Street, which was itself later replaced by air raid sirens positioned around town. Today, radio voice pagers that are activated by the Manassas Police Dispatchers alert volunteers. All of these altering systems, except for the steam whistle, are on display at the Fire Department Museum at Fire Station #1 on Centreville Road.

This locomotive tire is not one of the original alarms.

The Alarm image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 2, 2007
2. The Alarm
wheel tires from steam locomotive No. 89 donated 1998 by the Strasburg Rail Road Co., Strasburg, PA.
Location. 38° 45.16′ N, 77° 28.14′ W. Marker is in Manassas, Virginia. Marker is at the intersection of Centerville Road (Virginia Route 28) and Quarry Road, on the right when traveling west on Centerville Road. Click for map. Located in front of the Manassas Volunteer Fire Department Station. Marker is at or near this postal address: 9322 Centreville Road, Manassas VA 20110, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 10 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Manassas 1850 (within shouting distance of this marker); Harry J. Parrish (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Steam Locomotive Tire Fire Alarm – 1909 (about 700 feet away); Wartime Manassas (about 700 feet away); Manassas 1862 (about 800 feet away); Manassas Presbyterian Church (about 800 feet away); Manassas 1892 (approx. 0.2 miles away); Manassas 1906 (approx. 0.2 miles away); Defenses of Manassas (approx. 0.2 miles away); Opera House (approx. 0.2 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Manassas.
Regarding Steam Locomotive Tire Fire Alarm – 1909. This marker is duplicated at one other site near the City Hall (see related markers)
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. To better understand the relationship, study each marker in the order shown.
Categories. 20th Century
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 2,062 times since then and 25 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. • J. J. Prats was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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