Horns with bugles attached…

4 minute read

October 27, 2016, 8:24 PM

As I mentioned earlier, the trip to Philadelphia that Elyse and I made on October 3 was primarily about fire alarms.  In short, I now am the proud owner of 16 Federal Signal Model 53 fire alarm notification appliances, and 12 Couch coded fire alarm pull stations.  This was the total haul:

12 pull stations and 16 horns

It’s funny how this all came about.  As a fire alarm enthusiast, I’m in contact with other enthusiasts, some of whom work in the industry.  As an example, Elyse and I got to know each other on account of fire alarms.  In any case, a friend and fellow enthusiast let me know about another person who had some vintage equipment in Philadelphia that had just been removed from a building that would be disposed of if not saved.  My friend couldn’t make it to Philadelphia due to distance, but I could.  So they put me in contact with them, and we made all of the arrangements.  We built a trip around the alarms, planning to visit Christiana Mall on the way up, and then photograph some infrastructure on the way to King of Prussia Mall.

However, due to a late start, we ended up having to delete Christiana Mall from the itinerary, as well as any sort of Delaware stop.  Ah, well – there’s always next time.  But we made it to Chinatown right on schedule, and parked right next to Ho Sai Gai.  We made the exchange, and that was that.  I got a photo of Elyse holding one of the horns in the back of my car as proof to send to my friend:

Elyse with one of the horns in Chinatown

That was also when we realized something important: these alarms are very heavy.  Realize that these are old-school alarms.  They are made entirely out of metal, plus they have that bugle-like thing on the end, which is also metal.  The pull stations are also all metal, and they’re the older, bigger size.  And there were lots of them.  I ended up keeping some of these in the back of my car for about a week because of the need for assistance in bringing them in.  I could carry the smaller of the two boxes in by myself, but the second one… no way.  Too heavy to carry up the stairs alone.  I got help for that one.

Meanwhile, I don’t know about you, but I find horns that have projectors on them to be especially intimidating.  Take this horn (long since removed), from JMU’s Harrison Hall:

That sound projector makes it seem way more intimidating than it would be without.  Behind that projector is a Standard 4-350 horn, one of which I have in my collection.  The horn itself is not that bad, but that projector seems to say, “Watch out, I’m really loud.”

And this horn, with that bugle-like projector, fits the character.  It is very loud, as demonstrated in a video that Elyse took:

Even from that far away, that will blow your ears out.  These were installed in a residential building prior to an alarm system upgrade.  I can’t imagine being woken up by these in the middle of the night.

The horns themselves are very large, with the horn unit itself measuring 6″ in diameter, and 12″ from the wall to the end of the projector.  Here are a few views of them:

Federal Signal Model 53  Federal Signal Model 53

Federal Signal Model 53  Federal Signal Model 53

Federal Signal Model 53, label

Meanwhile, the pull stations were more familiar to me:


This pull station is identical to the Simplex 4263-10 that I already have in my collection, except that this is the original equipment manufacturer’s branding, rather than a rebrand like the Simplex one is.

So that’s the new fire alarm equipment that I now have.  Not too shabby, if you ask me.  That horn, however, will be a challenge to formally photograph for the website, considering its large size and the size of the area where I typically photograph these sorts of things.