Alert System at Dallas Fire Stations is Often Delayed, Failing

System meant to alert firefighters at a station that they have been dispatched to an emergency is often delayed by 90 seconds or more, according to representatives with Dallas Fire-Rescue

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An alert system that is meant to ready firefighters for an emergency response is often delayed, and sometimes does not work at all, according to representatives of the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department.

The fire station alerting system is designed to announce a fire call through a public address speaker in the fire station and raise the lights inside of the department in an effort to wake any sleeping firefighters.

The system itself is 20 years old and needs to be replaced, according to Dallas Fire-Rescue leadership.

“We are starting to see [the delay] be more than 90 seconds. That is much too far of a delay from the time the dispatch call comes through and when it announces through those speakers,” said Bill Zielinski, Dallas’ chief information officer when addressing the Dallas city council’s Public Safety Committee on Tuesday.

Councilmember Cara Mendelsohn said during the meeting that she has been made aware of multiple instances in her district, an apartment building fire and a medical emergency when the closest station to the emergency was not notified.

Zielinski noted that the problems with the system are intermittent, but have been increasingly of concern for the last year and a half.

In the short term, the department has designated a 911 dispatcher whose sole responsibility is to contact the fire station that is closest to a reported emergency to ensure that they are aware of the situation.

In the long term, the department will need to replace the system, Zielinski said. That replacement may come as early as next year.

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