Southeastern Partners with Norton Fire Department in Restoration of Fire Alarm Call Boxes

What started out as a sandblasting job in Southeastern Regional’s Precision Machining Program has evolved into total restoration of potentially five hundred Fire Alarm Call Boxes for the town of Norton.

Norton Firefighter Lieutenant Robert Wood, whose daughter Colleen is a freshman in Southeastern’s Precision Machining Program, brought in two aluminum Fire Alarm Call Boxes for sandblasting.

Wood said, “The outer shell casing we brought in was rotting, pitted and had missing pieces. These boxes hang throughout town on telephone poles and are exposed to all the elements.”

The original plan was to take the box apart to sandblast the parts separately. Precision Machining Instructor Robert Dennen said, “We had to saw, bang and use heat to take the damaged box apart. Everything was frozen, completely frozen.”

Precision Machining Instructor John Medeiros said, “Students in grades 9 – 11 fixed broken parts, and drilled and tapped to remove screws and broken fasteners. This opportunity is saving cost to the town of Norton and building a relationship with the community.”

Because the box was in such rough shape, needing welding repairs, Metal Fabrication students, senior Ebad Kahn, from Easton and junior Callie Royer, from East Bridgewater, did some light welding and repair work on the broken pieces and inside posts. According to Instructor Brendan Messier, “The boxes came in with some damage to the corners. The students filled in gaps with weld and sanded them.”

Collision Repair & Restoration junior Isaias Gutierrez, of Brockton, was enlisted to paint out the repaired box. He said, “I used a dual action sander on the five different pieces, then a red scuff pad before priming, and a spray gun for paint.”

Gutierrez will add this project to his portfolio and intends to highlight his tasks on Norton’s boxes as his Senior Project/Presentation. When asked how he feels about participating in a year-long project, restoring potentially hundreds of boxes, Gutierrez said, “It feels awesome. Someday I can walk by one and say, ‘I worked on that.’ That makes me proud of myself.”

Once painted, the pieces were returned to Precision Machining where the box was reassembled.

“The school was more than willing to work with us. It’s wonderful, the kids have the opportunity to perform community service within their programs.” Wood added, “We have about five hundred boxes around town, and as long as they are willing to work with us I’ll keep feeding them to them.” As one is replaced, he plans to remove the older one and submit it for restoration.

Colleen Wood, said, “I’m happy to help not only my father, but the Town of Norton. It’s nice to do community service.”

The first refurbished box will hang at the top of Wood’s Street. She will pass it each day coming and going from home, and according to Dennen, “There are plans for Colleen to sign the inside of the box, noting her year of graduation from Southeastern. Who knows how long that box will be there?”

By:  Karen Olson