View Full Version : Sterling Siren - any interest?

Walter Suiter
02-24-2018, 08:11 PM
I'm in possession of the history of Sterling Siren Fire Alarm company Buzzard Breath, Sterling's last siren mechanic put together years ago. Yes, the same company built vehicle sirens beginning with hand cranked models for horse drawn fire wagons to replace ineffective bells. They also built firehouse sirens.

The real Sterling company was owned by Bill Corey who also owned Superior Coach & Equipment in Rochester NY after he closed up his Rambler dealership.

I have Buzzard Breath's permission to publish it if there is interest.

Nicholas Studer
02-25-2018, 01:43 AM
Please do.

Denny Shira
02-25-2018, 02:15 PM
Bill was a good friend. I bought several rigs from him. I remember when he bought Sterling. Moved the production into the rear of the ambulance sales building on Manitou road. I would love to read Sterling's History

Walter Suiter
02-25-2018, 08:31 PM
Sterling Siren Fire Alarm
Posted 23-May-2008

"Sterling Siren Fire Alarm" Copyright F.D. All Rights Reserved

Sterling Box

RFD 1907 Water Tower

Rochester FD Tractor #8
In a time when much firefighting apparatus arrived at the fire behind a team of horses, and firemen ran to fires from wherever they were when the alarm was called, bells were the standard alerting device on equipment, and even atop firehouses. In some larger cities steam whistles alerted the firemen and were blown in a coded pattern to advise responders of the fire's location. Gamewell even offered a steam whistle blower that could be electrically connected to the incoming alarm telegraph system. The whistle blower eliminated the need for a Central Station Operator to open and close the steam whistle valve in the appropriate pattern for the box of alarm origin. Even as new chain driven motorized tractors replaced horses, and steam propelled pumpers were racing to the fire at 8 miles an hour, bells were the standard alert. The driver of the pumper had his hands full with the horses, the engineer was on the tailboard bringing his fire and steam pressure up, and the Officer was yanking himself silly on the bell rope as the machine hurtled toward the fire. That would begin to change in 1913. Equipment still had bells, but now equipment either came from the manufacturer with or could be retrofitted with a siren. The hand cranked siren soon proved to be superior to the bell as an alerting device, and more and more equipment was fitted with sirens.
The consensus in the available literature on firefighting seems to be that the first Fire Siren arrived in the US in 1913. It was a hand cranked siren touted as superior to the then-in-use bell mounted on most firefighting equipment as a way to clear a path to the fire scene. The idea of sirens rapidly caught on, and hand cranked sirens were quickly mounted on fire equipment. Fire Houses of course still had BELLS. The reality was a lot of Fire Houses still didn't have electricity.

Walter Suiter
02-25-2018, 08:55 PM
This isn't exactly coming up as originally published.

Content will all be there when I do get it up though.

Denny if you had the pleasure of knowing Wild Bill you were a lucky man. When he moved Sterling to Manitou he had already added service bays to the original building and the paint shop.

Bill sold National much of their fleet "on the hook" leaving Manitou either on National's tow truck or on a real tow truck. He also sold the Snorkel to the City of Rochester. Due to some legalities, when the City needed it so Walenda could walk a wire across Main Street, but wouldn't formally take delivery, the problem was solved by Dot driving the rig and Buzzard Breath riding shotgun, both costumed in borrowed rubber goods. I heard some good stories about that run.

Bill swapped buildings with Suburban Disposal when he retired, and Bob got to continue on selling cars. Bill and Dot moved to a new house, and Bill took up a new career woodworking for fun. Bill figured he needed another job when Dot told him he better get out of the house before he drove her nuts.

Bill hooked into a deal placing do it yourself blood pressure machines in stores and servicing them. He also got to build a new building in the back yard for his wood shop.

When Dot passed Bill bought himself a new condo and covertly hauled his woodworking machinery in. The Sterling inventory along with a lot of car parts also made the move, also covertly. By then Bill was very hearing challenged. Buzzard and Craig installed a strobe system for the doorbell so Bill knew somebody was at the door. The Sterling antiques had passed to Craig for safe keeping by then.

Bill did well living the condo life style, and found himself a new wife to finish life with. Wild Bill was a good man and an honest car dealer. He is missed.

Steve Loftin
02-25-2018, 09:59 PM
This isn't exactly coming up as originally published.

Content will all be there when I do get it up though.

Can it be attached as a PDF?

Walter Suiter
02-26-2018, 12:07 AM
We're about to find out Steve.