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Fire Alarm Building

BY http://tulsapreservationcommission.org

Built in 1931, the Tulsa Fire Alarm Building is one of Tulsa’s great Art Deco buildings. Designed by Frederick V. Kershner, the building features Terra cotta frieze work that was based on the detailing of Kershner’s award-winning Mayan Temple Design. The building is noteworthy for its intricacy of design and its depictions of fire-related themes.

The front façade uses a reoccurring theme of a double-headed dragon. These were often portrayed in Mayan culture to conjure the power of the earth and were also symbols of calamities. The entrance originally had large, matching, deco-style lanterns. The terra cotta panel above the main entry door is elaborated with an “Adonis-type" male, stripped to the waist. He has Gamewell alarm tape running through his hands. Flanking him from behind are two helmeted firefighters. A two-headed dragon is shown connected to stylized hoses with the nozzles appearing as their heads. On the back of the octagon shaped building is four gargoyle-like sculptures topped with a hatchet and flanking either side of nine windows.

The Fire Alarm building was important because it incorporated the best alarm system available during the early days of fire protection in the Midwest. Originally the city of Tulsa constructed the building to make it possible for all fire alarms to be reported to one central station. From there, the firemen at this building could alert the appropriate firehouse of the location of the fire. From its original inhabitation in 1934 to its vacancy in 1984, the building acted as the alarm reporting center for the City of Tulsa.