In the 19th Century, Eyre Massey Shaw - the first chief officer of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade - linked London's fire stations by telegraph.
In his 1867 book ``Fighting the Flames,'' author R. M. Ballantyne explained messages were relayed through a central office in an effort to improve response times and maintain adequate fire cover in each of the brigade's districts.
``When a fire occurs in any part of London ... the fire station nearest to it at once sends out its engines and men, and telegraphs to the head or centre station at Watling Street,'' Ballantyne wrote. (Actual alarms of fire were turned in by neighborhood runners paid a shilling per shout from the station purse.)
``From Watling Street the news is telegraphed to the foremen's stations, whence it is transmitted to the stations of their respective districts, so that in a few minutes after the breaking out of a fire the fact is known to the firemen all over London,'' according to Ballantyne's book.