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.
Training has always been a priority for the West Paterson Fire Department. When Chief Paul Salomone came up with the idea to fabricate his own training building, there was no stopping him and his brother Joe. The brothers, from Salomone Brothers, Inc. acquired two shipping containers, one forty feet long and the other twenty feet long, and brought them to their shop in Wayne, New Jersey. There they stacked the twenty foot container on top of the forty container and created what would be a one stop shop for many of the department’s training needs.
The building features two pitched roofs for ground ladder operations. One of the roofs sports a four foot square frame where firefighters can practice cutting a hole on a pitched roof from a roof ladder. There is a custom made door system made by the shop’s welders that allows for forcible entry practice on inward and outward swinging doors. Indoor and outdoor stairwells allow for firefighters to stretch handlines. Soon to come is an indoor convertible maze that will allow firefighters to stretch handlines, search for victims, and practice mask confidence drills. One of the building’s most unique features is the side by side windows that allow firefighters to practice using their bail out systems. The windows have a unique closing system that prevents the outside elements from intrusion into the building. Also, a custom made, valved, piping system, allows smoke to be directed to different parts of the building where needed.
Once the building reached its final resting place, the borough’s firefighters spent many hours constructing many of the extra features of the building, as well as painting and woodworking. Last to come is electric service to the building’s lighting and smoke machine and the relocation of a fire hydrant.