Fire Alarm Trapper

False alarms are a big problem for fire departments, but Vincent DiPaula figured he had a solution. In 1973, he invented a fire alarm ‘trapper’. It looked like a phone booth. If someone wanted to pull the fire alarm, they first had to enter the booth and close the door. Then, when they pulled the alarm, they would be locked inside the booth until the fire department arrived.

DiPaula figured this would deter pranksters. The obvious problem (which, I assume, is why his invention failed to be adopted) is that in the event of a real fire, it would also trap a legitimate alarm-ringer inside the burning building.

Fremont News-Messenger - Nov 27, 1973

     Posted By: Alex - Mon Jan 27, 2020
     Category: Inventions | 1970s

Way back in the 70's and early 80's my department had alarm boxes on the streets. We used to mix potassium permanganate with vasoline and coat the pull down handles with it to help with identifying those who would turn in false alarms. Worked too.
Posted by Steve E. on 01/27/20 at 11:36 AM
They now have special dyes for detecting tampering. The stuff is water-soluble only to the point that trying to wash it off spreads it all over the place. They're really proud of it -- it's priced like printer ink!
Posted by Phideaux on 01/27/20 at 06:02 PM
Those dyes would have been great for us. But then as the city grew larger and tone alerting radio receivers for firefighters less expensive we did away with the external alarm boxes.
Posted by Steve E. on 01/28/20 at 01:39 PM
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