Fire alarm system a concern in Massachusetts city

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

NEW BEDFORD, Mass.—This city’s fire alarm system is so old it’s continually being compromised, forcing the Fire Department to ask people to report emergencies by phone, according to an article from southcoasttoday.com.

Recent storms, in particular, have taken a toll on the fire system’s lines. More than 40 percent of the city’s 880 fireboxes were reportedly down after the recent blizzard.

The city’s chief financial officer, Ari Sky, plans to create a capital improvement plan by the end of the year that will address problems associated with the antiquated system.

According to the report, installing a new system has its drawbacks, as the process is both time-consuming and costly. Each installation could cost $4,000 to $10,000, and completing the process could take up to six years, although substantial savings would be had in the long-term, the report said.

Currently, only 71 of the city’s 880 fire alarm systems are wireless. The report noted that since Hurricane Sandy, there have been at least three incidents in which people called in fires by phone because the alarm systems were not operating at the time.