Friday, March 12, 2010

New York's Fire Alarm Boxes

New York's fire department wants to deactivate its 15,000 alarm boxes posted throughout the city. The move will save $6 million a year but needs court and legislative approval. In 1995, Mayor Rudy Giuliani tried to do the same thing but a judge stopped him when the Civic Association for the Deaf sued. The group argued the alarm boxes were necessary for the deaf and hard of hearing to report emergencies. The court agreed and told the city the boxes could only be removed after it could be shown that deaf people had another way to report fires. The fire department hopes to make the case that mobile phones now play that role. But Robert Stulberg, the attorney who filed the federal suit 15 years ago disagrees.