Monday, March 7, 2011

Citizen vs Town

This incident never should have happened
How a town had its eyes opened up by accepting Fire and Burg signals

Back when I was a young man about 1981 My Uncle and God father Jack who was a Captain at his local communities Fire dept west of Pittsburgh’s Border Introduced Me to a customer with an old existing Faraday AC Type Fire Alarm in a Senior High Rise Tower where the Fire system was a had a leased line Reverse Polarity signal to local police and fire Dispatcher but also had a primitive nurse call system in each apartment they desired to be tied into the circuit . I designed a circuit were for 10 seconds the dispatcher would receive a pulsing signal which would flash when it was a medical alarm at tower and stay solid for fire I also put in a back up battery on circuit so it would not drop during a intermittent power loss which was a problem in this area. Everything worked fine till one day I got a call from tower something was wrong medical alarm went off and no signal was sent I trouble shooted the circuit and determined power was going out and decided to go down to dispatch center to see if the were getting power at there Ademco Mod U Alarm Board
When i got there to my horror I found some one had pulled the horn unit out because one subscribers alarms was sending multiple alarms and driving everyone crazy having to reset it. Instead of taking the offending unit off line which could be easily done the Police chief insisted on taking the horn off and putting it in the office safe he told dispatchers to look over at the board every so often to check if any were in alarm . I blew my stack knowing not only my building full of seniors lives were at risk but several other structures were at risk of a delayed response by the Volunteer fire dept I had the Police Chief called at home on a Sunday and made him come in open the safe and give me the meter to protect the citizens or he would face a hell and brimstone he would regret. He threatened to arrest me and I advised him as a citizen I would place him under Citizens arrest for risking a catastrophe/riot a serious felony arsonists are often charged with and had already called state police. He wised up we both cooled down and resolved the matter I pulled out the offending burglar alarm unit .That Monday I get a very mad call from a Boro Councilman that asked me who the #$%$@ I was, and he wanted me at the council meeting that Wednesday to basically get inquisitioned .
I immediately called the local channel 11 News channel and they like sharks after blood started asking questions and I got a call later that evening from a different councilwoman
Who asked me what happened and I explained it to her and she asked me to call off the hounds and come to council meeting she wanted the whole story out.
I went to the council meeting and very diplomatically explained the situation to the council and went on to explain to them the liability they were left open to over this issue and what should be done in the future to avoid it. They had no idea just how much trouble they could have gotten into both from a criminal and civil matter. I started sighting various things which have happened in other towns across the country and the Boro Solicitor
Agreed with me .He was familiar with a couple of them as well as various state laws.
The chief very well could have been charged with several felonies and the council could have paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars due to gross negligence
So after all the dust settled there was peace in the valley .I also learned a valuable lesson from the system I designed as well as I did not rig in a latch circuit on the medical system and when a man bent on committing suicide by jumping from his apartment window was being restrained by his wife she would pull the medical cord to get help he would reset it and dispatcher took several minutes to figure out the trouble signal he was getting was coming from the tower. The delay was enough despite a valiant effort from Police and fire dept personnel the man succeeded in his plan. We switched the medical over to its own leased line after the incident despite the cost.
I eventually lost this customer several years after the incident when a new owner came in and used his preferred servicing company and also the digital communicator was coming on strong as a replacement for expensive leased line polarity reversal systems as dispatch centers condensed into centralized 911 centers. Most of the people involved in this incident are long gone or very old at this point but I chose to keep there and the towns name private to avoid embarrassment to them and there families.

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