Meridian Fire Bell - Purchased in 1911
The fire bell is a significant part of the Meridian Fire Department history. The bell was originally purchased 100 years ago and placed in the waterworks station in order to notify the volunteer firemen that there was a fire. The Hello girl would ring the bell directly from the central telephone station.
The bell weighs approximately 550 lbs. The cast steel bell is 36” and was purchased on August 18th, 1911 for $52.50.
As technology advanced the bell was no longer used and for awhile hung above the only fire station within the Meridian Fire District. It was then used for many years at Meridian High School and rung in honor of every touchdown. After a while, it was retired from the football games and sat below their bleachers. Then in the Spring of 2011, Captain Bill Allen contacted Meridian High School and was able to return the bell to the Meridian Fire Department.
The Meridian Fire Department members used their talents and restored the bell to its original condition by soda blasting off the blue and gold Meridian High Warrior paint. On September 11, 2011, just past the bell’s 100th birthday, the bell was dedicated in a ceremony held at Station 1. The bell now hangs in its permanent resting place in front of Meridian Fire’s Station number 1 on Franklin Road.
Please see below to read the full article from 1913 on the Meridian Fire Bell.
Meridian, Ada County, Idaho, Friday, January 31, 1913
Meridian’s Fire Bell
Meridian’s big fire bell, in case a fire alarm being sent in, is rung direct by the hello girl at the switchboard in the telephone office here. This is, so far as known, the only place in this state where the fire bell itself is rung direct from the central telephone station, says Capital News.
When the central telephone office in Meridian receives the information of a fire, the telephone girl immediately closes a switch on a private line running from the telephone office to the mechanism that proceeds automatically to ring the fire bell. This bell is 36 inches in diameter and weighs 600 pounds. It is a clear toned bell and is easily heard all over town. The Meridian telephone central has a 24-hour service; therefore, central can be called up at any time of day or night, and the fire bell will be rung immediately to give the general fire alarm.
The mechanism that automatically rings the fire bell is located in the water works station, about 24 blocks from the telephone office. It is a very simple device and is the result of some original thinking by O. Price, the superintendent of the Meridian water works.
When the telephone girl closes the switch on the private line above mentioned, the current starts in motion the little horsepower motor at the water works plant. This motor turns a crank which strikes a lever, which draws the bell hammer away from the bell. Each time the lever is released the strong spring on the hammer causes the hammer to strike the bell.
The crank on the motor makes 41 revolutions to the one revolution of the crank shaft. Each revolution of the crank shaft causes the hammer to strike twice. In other words the hammer strikes the bell 82 times a minute.
Mr. Price used two gears taken from an old cream separator and two gears from an old grain binder. These gears are attached to the motor and to the crank shaft. The bell is hung in the tower of the big water tank. A wire runs from the bell hammer to the lever.
This simple mechanism adds much to the efficiency of Meridian’s fire department.
The well which furnishes Meridian with pure water is 256 feet deep. The water is pumped by electricity through a six-inch casing, into the big 30,000 gallon tank. When the well was first tested two years ago it had a flow of 235 gallons of water per minute. A few days ago when a test was made this well’s flow was found to have increased to 333 gallons per minute. This increased flow is due to the sand in the well having been pumped away, thus causing the water to flow more freely.