Pa. city keeping 127-year-old fire alarm system

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

YORK, Pa.—Older is better, in some cases.

Fred DeSantis, president of the York city firefighter’s union, calls the city’s 127-year-old Gamewell fire alarm network “the best system out there,” according to the York Dispatch.

The city council recently voted to keep the system, comprising 83 boxes spread through the city, despite the growing cost of maintenance.

The system can be triggered manually or by smoke, and it sends signals straight to fire stations, bypassing the 911 dispatchers normally alerted first by private companies’ smoke detection systems, the paper reports.

DeSantis said involving dispatchers can add several minutes to the time it takes to generate a response to an alarm, and noted that not everyone has a cell phone to use to call 911.

Officials say the Gamewell system needs repairs that could cost as much as $730,000, but it generates $85,000 per year in fees raised from businesses hooked into the network, according to the paper.