The picture doesn’t show it, but the alarm puller wouldn’t actually be shackled to the burning building; instead, a large cuff would detach from the alarm box and secure itself to their wrist until unlocked by the fire department.
This was the solution to the problem created by the prevalence of pranks and false alarms in the 30’s. After fire depts realized that around 20% of calls were a waste of time, some turned to these sorts of innovative solutions.
This was also demonstrated in a 1970’s documentary, “Gizmo!”
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