Beyond the Textbooks

Bad Inventions: Fire Box, 1938

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In February 1938, a new invention was introduced to stop fire alarm pranksters. If a person went to “sound the alarm” they would have to insert their arm into a special compartment to activate the signal dial. Immediately after activating the alarm, the person’s arm was locked in the compartment until police or firemen arrived with a key. It was a good idea to catch pranksters, however, for obvious reasons, a bit flawed if there was an actual fire….

After a bit more research, it sounds like these fire boxes would sit outside of buildings, a more logical location than the alternative. Also the photo looks as if the trapping compartment came off the box so a person could walk away after initiating the signal wearing a rather bulking bracelet. Regardless of where it would be located or the specific mechanics, the firebox was not the best invention the world had ever seen nor was it the worst!

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  • http://www.for-the-love-of-pete.blogspot.com Valerie

    Now a bracelet like that would make a very unusual and bulky fashion statement! Hopefully no one ever was seriously hurt when trapped in the fire box during an actual fire! Once again Jess, you write some of the most interesting blog posts I’ve ever read! Keep it up!

    • http://historybyzim.com Zim

      Thank you so much Valerie! I couldn’t find much information on it so hopefully that means no one was ever hurt while using it!

  • Brittany

    This is hilarious, glad this invention didn’t stay stay around!

    • http://historybyzim.com Zim

      I completely agree Brittany!

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