This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
Quick responses to a fire call by the Fire Department were not as efficient in 1929 as it is today. When we hear the city warning sirens sound today, we do not give much thought to what methods were used in early years.
In March of 1929, there were times when people complained because they were unable to get a telephone operator. At the time of the Trosper fire at 5 A.M. there was only one operator on duty. She had to call the Fire Department members and inform them of the location of the fire. The operator then had to call a water works employee to go down and start the pumps in order that pressure might be maintained. Then she had to call electricians to go down and shut off the power in the vicinity so the firemen might work among the wires in safety AND she had to call the parties whose property was on fire and the businessmen in the vicinity whose property might be threatened.
All of this was because the blowing of the light plant whistle for alarms had been discontinued. It was written that the cost of using the steam for the sole purpose of blowing that whistle meant maintaining enough steam to operate a 250 horsepower engine. When use of the steam whistle was discontinued, it was necessary to notify volunteer firemen by telephone and often they could not be reached.
Two years later in 1931 the City Commission was still struggling to install an efficient and less costly fire alarm. We can be thankful for our current communication systems and the work our Fire Fighters do to not only fight fires, but provide us with emergency medical assistance.