The History of the Fire Bell


The red fire bell is one of the most recognizable symbols in the world of fire service. The first recorded use of a fire bell to signify a fire-related alert dates back to medieval England, though there is controversy over which monarch first instituted the practice. In any case, by the year 1068, a compulsory curfew had been imposed across the country of England, requiring all citizens to put out their fires and retire to their homes upon the sounding of the church bells. This served the dual purpose of keeping criminals off the streets, and preventing disaster caused by a neglected fire pit.

This law was in place for 35 years, until Henry II eventually repealed the mandate (though many English towns still sound bells in the evening). Centuries later the English curfew bell serves as the inspiration for the modern city-wide emergency alarm.

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