Fire Alarm System
A large street fire alarm. The circular alarm is predominantly painted red and it features a button at the centre of a white section. " FIRE ALARM " DUPLEX " BREAK GLASS PUSH KNOB " is written on the face of the alarm in white letters. " DAVIES SHEPHARD " and " DUPLEX " are engraved on the interior. A locking mechanism is also on the face of the alarm which is attached to the body by a hinge on one side. The interior of the alarm is painted grey and it contains a simple mechanism. Two keys which can be used to open the alarm and wind it up are also included.
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Duplex alarm systems were installed in New Zealand's provincial centres during the 1920s and 1930s.
These alarms allowed the public to break the glass, push the knob and raise the alarm when a fire was spotted.
The alarms were mounted on power poles throughout suburbia and once activated they sent a unique signal to a ticker tape machine at the station. The town alarm would then be sounded and firemen would scramble to the station.
New Plymouth’s street fire alarms were dismantled in the late 1950s as domestic telephone ownership increased but they were used as late as the 1970s in other areas.