Copyright 2014 by Joseph F. Krygoski
Whippany Railway Museum
Federal Sign and Signal Corporation Model C3 1/2
7 1/2 Horse Power Motor
3 Phase – 220 / 440 Volt – 60 Cycle Motor
Total Units Bought New 1951 (3)
Remote Operation Control via NJ Bell Phone Line (Verizon)
This Siren was originally installed across from 9 Reynolds Ave, Whippany, NJ in 1951. It was relocated to Hanover Township’s Bee Meadow Pool Parking Lot in 1969 and remained in that location until the Spring of 2013 when it was donated to the Whippany Railway Museum.
Hanover Township’s first / original siren was located on the roof of the existing Whippany firehouse and was controlled by the Hanover Township Police Department. If the police officer was not at police headquarters, all fire calls were forwarded to the Magee residence located just a few doors up from the fire house. A Magee family member would take the information from the operator and push the siren button located by the special police phone, sounding the alarm / siren.
The siren would blow eight cycles with each blast lasting about five seconds.
The first responding volunteer firefighters would use the police phone located inside the fire station. The officer on duty or the Magee family member would give them the information as to the type of fire / emergency, and location.
This information was then written on a large blackboard inside the firehouse for other responding members to see. As the police department grew in size, the need for the Magee family to be a “back-up” for phone service was eliminated. All calls were directed to the police station desk, now manned 24-7 / 365 days of the year.
As the town grew in population and new housing developments went up after World War II, the need to alert volunteer members in outer-lying parts of the town needed to be addressed.
Two more sirens were added in late-1951, one pole-mounted siren located across from 9 Reynolds Ave and the third pole-mounted unit sited near the Salem Drive School on the Water Department’s water storage tank property. These new audible signals provided the necessary coverage for the next twenty years.
The introduction of radio messaging to fire department volunteers was introduced around 1969, when the Plectron Radio Receiver was issued to each department member where a voice message was sent with location and type of emergency. The sirens were still used as a back up at this time, but the siren cycles were reduced and would only sound four times during each emergency call.
During the Cold War-era and the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962, the sirens were also used for Civil Defense.
The siren would sound one very long blast lasting about five minutes…..a very fearful warning for everyone who remembers those uncertain times.
The only time the siren was a “welcome sound” was for school children…alerting them of the much loved “Snow Day”!
The Board of Education would decide if weather conditions were too dangerous and closed school. Parents would listen to the local radio station (WMTR 1250 AM ) or wait to hear the siren blow at 7AM.
These sirens were tested every day at 5 PM, and the test signal was used by many local families as time for dinner. Many kids would race home so as not to be late when the whistle blew!
As technology with radios, pagers and cell phones advanced, the needs of the siren or Fire Whistle was diminished. Once members were able to be contacted via radio signals, the sirens were eventually taken out of service.
One siren still is active in Whippany, at Fire District 2 on a “limited basis” and is located on a pole next to the Whippany Fire Station at 440 Route 10.
The members of the Whippany Railway Museum would like to Thank all the volunteer men and women of Whippany Fire Department, who get out of bed in the middle of night, leave family functions, and take time off from work to respond to fires and emergencies in every type of weather condition to help those in need.
Air Raid Siren donation to Whippany Railway Museum